• Always be in beta

    If you’re actively developing a piece of software, it should be in beta.

    Maybe you run your beta for the last month of a development cycle. Have users take put the app through its paces, find a few bugs, and you can ship to the App Store. If you’re running your community like this, you’re leaving a lot on the table.

    You’re missing out on an awesome resource: your users who are crazy about your app! If you’re building a feature from start to finish, before asking your users what they think, you’re leaving that resource on the table. While beta testers are great for finding bugs, they’re even better at helping you shape your product.

    So, instead of running a beta for a few weeks towards end of a release, leave your app in beta indefinitely.

    Your users are excited about the features you’re cooking up. Ask them! They’ll be happy to test out a feature, even if it isn’t fully polished yet. They’ll feel like they’re part of the club, helping make their favorite software better, and you get an inside track into what they think and how they use your software.

    The main reason to get this feedback early is that developing software is expensive, and your time is valuable. You want to spend the smallest amount of time moving from idea to minimal implementation to knowing if your customers like it. This way, you’ll spend way less time on features that are duds.

    Leaving the beta channel running also yields a side benefit. Users won’t have to switch between the beta version and the App Store version of the app. Make it as easy as possible for users to be in a position to continuously give you feedback on your app.

    In the olden days, this kind of thing was handled with a mailing list. Apps like NetNewsWire had their products formed by the feedback that was given in the mailing list.

    With Backchannel, we’ve brought those mailing lists into the future:

    • Users who have access to your beta automatically gain access to your Backchannel.
    • Users can easily attach images and screenshots.
    • You can get diagnostic information about a tester’s system, attached to every message they post.
    • Users can read the feedback from other testers before they commit to writing anything of their own.
    • And best of all, Backchannel doesn’t clog up your user’s inboxes!

    Try Backchannel today for free!

  • What Is Backchannel?

    Backchannel is a tool for creating a community inside your beta, by solving a long-standing problem in running betas: what’s the best way to collect feedback?

    As app developers, we’ve solved this problem with email. A feedback form in the app turns into an email, which lands in a developer or project manager’s inbox, which becomes an item to be prioritized, which may or may not end up on the backlog … you get the idea.

    This approach is sorely lacking in some crucial ways:

    First, your testers have no way of determining if a bug has been reported already.

    Your users use the data they have: if a bug seems common, they might think it’s been reported already, and they might not report it at all. This chilling effect puts a damper on the feedback you receive.

    With Backchannel, all the feedback is organized into threads. Users can quickly scan them to see if their bug has already been reported. When they can’t find the thread, they’ll know that they should report the bug.

    Second, users can’t build off each other when they email their feedback directly to the developer.

    With traditional feedback mechanisms, all of the conversation is locked inside of direct tester-to-developer emails. In short, your users can’t work together to find tough bugs for you. Using Backchannel, if a user posts some feedback, a second user can chime in and build on the report to make it more precise.

    Finally, users don’t know what will happen when they send that email.

    Will they get a response? Will they be ignored? In Backchannel, all the feedback is visible (even without logging into Backchannel!). Testers can see how responsive you’ve been to feedback, and they won’t be able to wait to join the conversation.

    Backchannel is a discussion tool designed to make the benefits of reporting feedback apparent to your testers. The more feedback you get from them, the better your app will be.

    Get started with Backchannel today, create an account at backchannel.io, and use our easy, drop-in SDK to start getting great feedback, and build better apps.