The core goal of beta testing your product is to gather feedback that can be used to improve iterations of the user experience. As a result, the methods you use to collect user feedback is key to a successful feedback round. Product and UI/UX professionals have different techniques for collecting this feedback -- namely in person, via screen sharing, or as written feedback. But which is the most effective?
Let’s review the three main categories of feedback collection used in beta tests and the best times to use each.
The ideal way to collect feedback from your beta users is in person. There is no replacement for the quality of the feedback that comes from face-to-face interaction with the user as they test your product. Well-targeted questions, as well as small gestures like body language and frustration cues provide more insight into the user's experience than any other collection method.
Being in front of your users allows you to have full conversations with them as they walk through your product. This is an excellent moment to understand what users expect to result from each click.
Common ways to collect user feedback in person is to hold a focus group or user studies. User studies are usually a 1:1 session between your team and the user. This allows you to collect rich, granular data on the user’s experience in the product.
Focus groups are user studies that happen on a larger scale, you can interview and collect feedback from multiple uses at once, saving you and your team time to collect data.
As a general rule of thumb, you can collect more information about a user's experience by asking open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions. Also, it's critical to always have a dedicated scribe during these sessions; this can make or break the success of the data you collect.
Small gestures and comments can be the most valuable to your team, and losing them in the moment may cause more discomfort than addressing the other items you picked up on during the interview.
Screen sharing is the second most effective feedback collection method after being face-to-face with the end users.
If you can’t be with the user in person, the next best thing is to hold one-on-one screen sharing sessions to watch how they navigate the product and listen to their feedback in the moment. Being able to see their cursor movements and hear their verbal feedback gives an experience that is comparable to collecting feedback in-person.
There are still some important pieces of data you might miss by only screen sharing with the user. Only being able to see their face in the screen share instead of their entire body can cause your team to miss some physical queues like body language and physical reactions to the experience.
Even worse is not being able to see the user at all! Make sure that if you are screen sharing with users to collect beta feedback, you try to recreate an in-person setting digitally as best as you can.
Written feedback is the most common choice for feedback collection. The internet, for example, is littered with prompts for users to write about their experience. I am regularly, and annoyingly, prompted to fill out experience surveys within a product or via email. However, this is not the optimal way to collect beta user feedback.
Firstly, in many written feedback scenarios, the user didn’t opt-in to provide feedback on the product. The ability to opt in (as well as being actively incentivized) greatly enhances the feedback experience for the user, and most likely, the quality of feedback you receive. If the user isn’t primed to provide feedback in the ideal manner, the feedback you receive will be less than stellar. Even worse, the user might just skip the prompt completely, leaving you with a smaller sample size of data.
Making sure that your users are prepared to analyze their experience and provide good insight will increase your chances of gathering actionable feedback. If you can avoid it, written prompts are not the most effective way to collect feedback.
At the end of the day, there is no better way to collect feedback from your beta users than being face-to-face with them. This can be a big hurdle for teams without local users, but modern technology and tools can help you simulate a similar experience by using screen sharing and phone calls. Make sure that you have as much insight into the users physical feedback, like a body language shift, as well as written/verbal feedback. Having both can provide much more information together to the team conducting the study.
At PactSafe, we take feedback from both beta users and customers very seriously. It's part of our user-first mentality in our build and the way we do business. To see how PactSafe collects feedback from customers, check out our customer feedback portal.