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Top 10 Ways To Test Your Software Before Launch

If you haven’t tested it, then you’re doing this all wrong. Software testing is a fundamental part of the software development process. Testing allows interested parties, developers, and users to gain intimate knowledge of the product’s functionality in a low stakes test environment. You don’t want to launch blindly just to find that something fundamental to the software doesn’t work as intended.

Testing isn’t just taking a few steps and allowing your roommate, girlfriend, and mom to click around on the product for an hour. There are definite and important items to test for, and proven methods to do so.

Top 10 Ways To Test Your Software Before Launch

1. Build A Feedback Loop

We’re not talking about when you smush two phones together and yell into the microphone to enjoy the screeching that results from the rapid cycling of your voice bouncing between the two devices. What we are talking about is getting your end product, or better yet, getting your preliminary ideas into the hands of trusted individuals early, often, and at each step of the way.

The feedback can start as early as sharing mockups with developers and friends or even the client. Feedback loops need to be built into virtually every stage of the development process. Using your trusted groups of feedback providers, you can quickly catch issues at their earliest stages without inadvertently coding them into the final design. Get your team involved while things are still malleable then move fast and move forward.

Saying you need a core group of trusted individuals to provide feedback is the easy part, but what if you don’t have a large pool from which to build a trusted feedback loop? The next few points in this list are about building those groups and getting your much-needed feedback.

2. Cultivate Early Adopters Through Facebook

Create a Facebook group around the project. Using social media to establish a focus group early is key to the success of this strategy. Wrangling the few trusted people you do have into a cohesive group around your software will help build a community and a sense of ownership in their minds. This allows you to quickly validate features, ask questions by surveying potential users, and to get honest feedback on your software’s functionality.

Facebook allows you to inherently prequalify these potential users. Members of your group have already expressed interest in the software – or at least the development of that software – and have agreed to be a part of your development process just by joining the group. This eliminates the need to beg your peers every time you need feedback on a different stage of the development process. Using social media streamlines communication, provides a simple repository of information about your software for newcomers to easily get up to speed and become active participants in the feedback loop.

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3. It’s Betta To Have Beta Testers

Because you’ve already built a community of active participants around the creation of your software through social media and facebook groups, you are in a better position to get your first set of actual beta testers on board to run the software through its paces.

Before your app is flying solo start looking over your trusted contacts in your feedback loops for potential Power Users. Prune your facebook group members and cultivate a subset of the most active and helpful members to join your beta testing program. Once the app is functional, it is important to call upon a strong group of beta users and get the software out there. Mobilize your power users.

4. Read This If You Forgot To Build Your Feedback Loops Early

Whether you’ve pushed your software out to friends, colleagues, and fans online, you are going to want to test your software among multiple audiences. Team members who are familiar with the software’s primary objectives, experts in your field who can spot issues and bugs, and very importantly, test your software with users who represent your target customer.

Although this step is for everyone, the next bit can be a potential safety net for those who don’t have a large pool of trusted contacts and developers to help them develop their software through feedback loops. Your solution is focus groups!

If you need a solution to getting your software out to a wide selection of people, you can work with specialized agencies to cultivate groups of test users based on your needs and growth strategy to ensure groups testing your software reflect your target market.

I’ve got my trusted focus group. What exactly should they be looking out for? The TL;DR, Everything.

5. Did Your Developers Do What You Intended?

Run the software through its paces with your quality assurance team. This might easier for large companies who already have a stable of trusted individuals operating in a QA capacity, but as we’ve detailed above, it’s not impossible for the independent developer or boutique software company to compile a group of trusted users to act as a quality assurance team.

You quality assurance team is tasked with ensuring that the development team stays within the predetermined rules of the plan. It is the quality assurance gals’ and guys’ chief responsibility that all requirements identified as part of the product launch are well executed and that the software/web-app/website is free of bugs. It is also crucially important that the product is intuitive and design friendly with the end user in mind.

Being thorough in your quality assurance tests will only serve to release the best functioning product, and simplifying the notes/review process by communicating clearly with team members, project leads, and clients with a tool like The Bug Squasher will only help to strengthen your quality assurance strategy resulting in a quicker sign off by your client.

6. Does Your Software Actually Work Where It’s Supposed To?

The software is in the hands of your quality assurance team. What should they test for? A fundamental, and almost insultingly basic test but sometimes overlooked is compatibility. If your web app only works on Chrome for Mac users (for some reason) that excludes a large population of potential users. These compatibility issues are easy to spot, relatively easy to address, but if left unchecked can render your software useless thus fueling rage and angry paying customers in its wake.

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Ensuring that your software is thoroughly tested to work in all environments that you intend it to work, is vital to a viable software launch. Just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for me. Test, test, test.

7. Does It Do What It’s Supposed To?

Next, we test for software usability. This goes beyond basic functionality. Testing for usability is a comprehensive view of your software and it takes into consideration the users overall experience when interacting with the software. This includes design aesthetic and technical performance.

What are your pitfalls, what issues arise when implementing the software as an actual user? Aesthetics. Does it look good? Is it designed in a manner that makes sense and lends itself to the software’s overall usability, or is the design motivated by form over function?

This might sound basic, but do all of your menus work? Can a user navigate the software as intended with zero friction? Test the entire sales funnel from start to finish. Navigate to your software’s landing page. Install or sign up for the app. Register. Purchase a plan. Implement the software. Go through the process step-by-step as a customer would. Does it work? Does it flow logically and without issue? Does the software perform as expected under various conditions including high volume? Will it become sluggish when pushed to its limits? What are its limitations?

8. Have You Thought About Security?

More and more the software we encounter and build requires quite a bit of user personal information and is granted access to sensitive digital spaces including photos, cameras, and microphones. When building software that is granted access to such privileged information, it is our duty to ensure it is safe for the end user and secure from malicious actors.

Ensure that your application is protected against unauthorized access. Performing penetration tests on your software will not only protect your valued users, but also save you time, energy, and money in the future. By securing your software now, you are increasing its potential for long-term success.

A solid risk assessment should scrutinize your software’s architecture. Avoid playing catch up and make certain that security is a priority from day one in the initial build.

We’ve run the software by trusted friends, colleagues, contacts, QA, the facebook group, and even cultivated a powerful group of beta testers now what?

9. Testing That Does The Marketing For You

Get the influencers involved!

Including industry influencers early in your testing can help generate press around your software before it launches wide. Make a list of podcasters, bloggers, YouTubers, and journalists who can benefit from your software and start reaching out.

Send a personalized email to each and every person on your list inviting them to take part in focus grouping your new software.

Why is this important? If you’ve build your list effectively, you have isolated a group of individuals who you can help with your software. You have built something that either currently doesn’t exist or is better than anything else commonly used. The software solves a big problem for the influencer and/or their audience. Winning them over can be a big push in your early marketing efforts as they are likely to want to share your awesome software with their audience.

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Make it enticing for them. How can this software benefit them? How can it benefit their audience? What problem are you solving for them, and what exclusive deals or specials will you provide? Your goal here is to get exposure and to get honest feedback from people who matter. Now’s not the time to be stingy.

10. Don’t Be The Village Bicycle – At First.

Take a page from Hollywood and do a limited release. Remember when Gmail was just a side experiment for Google? Remember when it was invite only? Remember when joining Facebook was limited by the university you belonged to? What all of these are examples of is a slow, methodical rollout. What are the benefits of rolling out to a small group of early adopters?

First, your early adopters are more likely to be forgiving of any issues. They are in on the ground floor, they are a part of something that most people do not have access to and they know it. This creates “buy in” for them. These people become evangelists for your software down the line because their use and feedback has actually contributed to shaping the software.

Google’s Developer Console supports staged rollouts for this exact strategy – allowing you to limit the percentage of users who are able to download your app. A staged rollout allows users to review and leave ratings for your app giving you an opportunity to address any low ratings early on and fix issues before your wide release.

Second, a multi-staged rollout allows you to scale along with your user base. As you gain in popularity, you can grow your infrastructure to handle higher and higher volume. Overbuilding, in the beginning, can become a big expense that threatens the viability of your software. Under-building can cause issues with speed and functionality giving users a bad experience and thus a bad view of your software.

A limited release is a great way to control your growth, continue improving the software based on actual user feedback, build buzz around the product by making it scarce and selective while providing the best user experience at every step of the way.

Final Thoughts

A lot of work and a lot of people are involved in the pre-launch sequence when taking a piece of software from inception to reality. Every stage is crucial to its viability. The software won’t work as intended if there are catastrophic technical issues and nobody will know about it if you can’t get it into enough hands. Luckily through strategic testing efforts, you can build a stable of early adopters who will help you build a superior product while increasing exposure at every step of the way.

– The Bug Squasher Team

P.S. A lot goes into producing a successful software pre-launch. The more you have checked off your list before the release the better. Be methodical, thorough, and get trusted individuals involved. The testing phase can serve a double purpose in creating buzz.

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