Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

The Importance of a Good Beta

Category: Ajax, Editorial, Usability, Web20

We get a lot of submissions for beta sites to showcase their use of ajax. Michael has written a great post that should be required reading for anyone before they click “send” on that press release email. He stressed that you often only get one chance with the early adopters, so if you blow it you may not have another shot.

He writes about the key make or break features of a beta:

  • do not release incomplete or broken features
  • don’t hold back features just to have new items in a month
  • IE still has the mainstream market, but early adopters use Firefox and Safari – ignore them at your peril
  • avoid the eternal “lauching soon” page – do it close to release and give info on what you are releasing
  • engage bloggers, and don’t get into flamewars with them (even if you are right)
  • don’t ask for any more personal info then you need

Jason of 37 Signals fame has some experience with successful launches, and he says don’t launch a public beta at all. If you launch public, call it 1.0 and take full responsibility.

For more Ajax specific demos and showcases, I would add the following items:

  • its all about the user experience – your typical early adopter maybe spends five to ten minutes trying out your demo, you better make sure you impress quickly!
  • barrier to entry should be zero – if you run a social recipe site that has the latest purple-drop-fade technique you want to share, create a demo page that requires no login. If you absolutely must require an account, setup a demo acct and make it default.
  • validate html/css, clean up your javascript, and check your platforms – see browsershots and safari test.
  • if its open source, provide the code (zipped and online) in an obvious place, with license clearly stated
  • a blog detailing the development of your site can be great, even for those who don’t care about your service

Posted by Rob Sanheim at 4:36 pm

3.9 rating from 57 votes


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Comment by 초고속 — May 6, 2006

[…] And then Ajaxian released the article “The Importance of a Good Beta” and added to the above quote from Jason. […]

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