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!