Crowdsourced Testing: Give the People What They Want
How do you gauge the success of a product? While you can probably list several parameters pretty quickly, the one thing that stands out is user acceptance and satisfaction—better still, user delight.
A part of this may be tangibly measured through survey feedback and sales numbers, but a portion may still remain intangible, including factors such as brand value and customer goodwill that has been built over the years.
In the traditional days of product development, the gap between developed solutions and what users really wanted was one of the biggest reasons agile came in with a bang and made it big. The focus was largely shifted to be user-centric, enabling teams to respond to user requirements and feedback in a short period of time.
One of the effective approaches teams have adopted in this process is to engage with customers early and often, actively working with them over the course of the product development lifecycle. Ongoing beta tests have become invaluable compared to usability studies that used to be conducted at the end of the lifecycle in the “good old days.” Engineering teams also were often not fully privy to such usability studies, widening the gap further.
Around the time agile came into the limelight was when crowdsourcing also started gaining visibility. Crowdsourced testing can happen both before and after a release, and beta testing is a significant piece of crowdsourced testing. This is an effective approach to stay connected with the users and ensure that the product idea, design (sometimes even the architecture), implementation, and nonfunctional elements meet and exceed their expectations.
Despite the value of this practice, the industry is still dabbling with how to implement crowdsourced testing, given the lack of understanding about how to effectively put together a crowdsourced test effort. As with any other test effort, crowdsourced testing is both a science and an art, and the industry is slowly defining guidelines on implementing crowdsourced testing.
Aside from best practices regarding how, when, and what, another key factor is that crowdsourced testing needs to be closely monitored. The one managing the effort must constantly evaluate progress and make changes to stay on track with defined goals. This is a project management effort too, and an important one where users are directly involved.
What’s exciting about crowdsourced testing is that it brings a balance between shifting left and shifting right with your testing efforts. You’re conducting testing early and often, and you’re connecting with users, thereby increasing the chances of product success in the marketplace. Embracing crowdsourcing testing and creatively customizing it to your needs is the best way forward.