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The Best Way to Build Great Mobile Apps: Get Employees to Beta Test Them

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You've put in the long, hard hours designing online application software for your company. You've coded it, built in offline access for it, done troubleshooting on it, juiced up its performance, tracked down and fixed bugs,  and finally deployed it.

Finally, the work is done. Now it's time to sit back and reap the rewards, as everyone in the company gives it a try, finds it useful, and helps the business work better.

But then the real world intervenes. Why has nobody noticed it? Why are so few people using it? And why are you getting complaints instead of congratulations? The answer isn't that you're not a good enough developer. There's a good chance that it's because of the way you've beta tested it, that is, if you have beta tested it.

There's a surprisingly simple solution to this ever-present problem. Make sure that the people who will actually use the app beta test it before you finalize it.

Why You Need Employee Beta Testers

Why use employees as beta testers? Nash Ogden, president of Innoppl Technologies, explained it this way to Marguerite McNeal of Chief Mobility Officer: "Quite frequently you have a great idea and then you start putting too many things around it and it gets more complicated. You really should test it in a beta format first, with your actual end users."

Quinton Wall, director of platform technology at Salesforce, writing in an article for Information Week, backs up what Ogden has to say: "I constantly see organizations roll out amazing new mobile apps for viewing corporate data that are completely devoid of enterprise UX…What actually happens is that your business process is now harder than it was before you gave your users that new fancy mobile app. "

As to how you should perform that beta testing, the app platform company Apperian has some excellent advice. Among the takeways: Distribute the beta only to testers, and not through a private or public apps store. Compare different test versions to find the features users like most. Test the app on multiple devices. And carefully control versions, which users have which apps, and on which devices the app is tested on. Do all that, and you'll likely hear congratulations, not complaints, after you roll out your next mobile app.

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About Author

Dion McCormick
Dion McCormick

Dion McCormick, Lead Solutions Engineer at Alpha Software, is a recognized expert on agile application development. He helps enterprise development teams around the world transition from slow legacy approaches to high-performance mobile, web, and desktop development using the Alpha Anywhere platform.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.