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Re: [agile-usability] Defining beta

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  • James Page
    Inviting people to test something does increase loyalty.... http://www.feld.com/blog/archives/2008/06/im_done_with_pr.html Boom - a new invention occurred.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 19 12:58 AM
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      Inviting people to test something does increase loyalty....
      http://www.feld.com/blog/archives/2008/06/im_done_with_pr.html

      Boom - a new invention occurred.  This one is called "private beta" and now means "we are early and buggy and can't handle your scale, but we want you to try us anyway when we are ready for you."  I've grown to hate this as it's really an alpha.  For whatever reason, companies are either afraid to call an alpha an alpha or they don't know what an alpha is.  For a web app, operational scale is an important part of the shift from alpha to beta, although as we've found with apps like Twitter, users can be incredibly forgiving with scale problems (noisy - but forgiving).

      James

      On Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 8:39 AM, Nick Gassman <nick@...> wrote:

      The introduction of Agile at our place has stimulated debate over what
      our approach to 'beta' on ba.com should be. Many of you will recognise
      the risk that some people will take what they like and choose to hear
      from Agile principles, and a consquence of that can be that you can
      just put software live to the end user without many quality controls,
      and fix it after.

      I do though think that we can make more use of beta than we have done
      (which is never). It feeds into th debate about what the best tools
      are for getting customer (end-user) feedback, and which stage of the
      project. For a while the only tool we had of any effect was
      studio-based usability prior to release. Now we're much more thinking
      about what would be appropriate to get feedback from in beta, or by
      using metrics or experimentation once the functionality is live.

      We need to set some guidelines around what we would release as beta,
      and some of the factors are
      - still do enough prior usability
      - not an entirely new function
      - be clear on what you're testing - e..g don't text whether the data
      is accurate, do test on user understanding
      - risk to the business
      - adequate feedback mechanisms
      - run in parallel to existing function which it will replace, and flag
      it as such

      etc etc

      Any views? Bear in mind the nature of our business, and the target
      audience.

      * Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *


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