It is good practice to plan a beta launch before the true launch of the mHealth program. In a beta launch, the mHealth application is released and used by a small audience in order to identify any remaining issues and work out any implementation kinks before making the application available to a wider audience. For example, a beta launch shows you whether end users can easily access and use the application. It illustrates whether the data generated by the application satisfies the needs of the implementation team and partners. It tests whether the delivery channels work as anticipated, and whether the solution works well given the state of connectivity in a particular context.
A user’s first experience with a new service can determine their willingness to continue use—if it is a bad encounter, he or she will not be motivated to use the service or application later on. In beta testing, you have the opportunity to test solution implementation with real users, while minimizing the negative backlash that could make or break a project.
- What project elements need to be tested before wider scale launch? Think about what can go wrong that would have a large impact on the user experience and program operations, and ensure that you can test those functions during beta testing.
- Who are the audience(s) for beta launch (for example, end user and data managers). How will feedback be collected and addressed prior to launch? How much time is needed to do the beta testing well?
THE EXPERTS SAY...
“Usability testing was incorporated at several levels. First, we did a lot of internal testing for the content and platform. Then we did beta testing with a small group representing end users. Then, after the product’s release to the general public, we monitored and incorporated feedback from users. Usability testing doesn’t stop after release of version 1—the solution should be continuously monitored and improved. Otherwise people stop using it.” – James BonTempo, CCP (with Jhpiego at time of the interview)