3 Different Types of Helpful Feature Requests

You’re a tester in an exciting new beta test. After using your beta product for a while, it’s clear there are some features you think could be added or possible improvements on existing product features that could be worth making. Instead of letting those ideas go to waste, share your ideas by submitting a feature request.

A feature request is a form of feedback that allows you (the tester) to offer your thoughts about what you would like to see in the product you’re testing. Feature requests also give you the unique opportunity to make a real impact on the final version of a product. While bug reports help a development team fix existing issues with their product, a well-thought-out feature request can offer solutions to future, yet-to-be-discovered problems that ultimately better the product.

There are three different types of feature requests you can submit: new feature requests, feature improvement requests, and unresolved problems.

1. New Feature Requests

A brand new feature request is for a feature that doesn’t exist within the current product. For instance, say you’re testing a streaming set-top box and you want an easy way to access your favorite shows. You could suggest adding a feature where you could create shortcuts to your favorite shows on the home screen. Adding a new feature like this could potentially affect the product’s launch trajectory in a dramatic way.

When you’re submitting a feature request, it’s important to be realistic. In other words, keep in mind there is only so much a development team can do to add your suggested feature between the time a beta concludes and the product’s launch date. This means that most major feature requests (even the good ones) won’t end up in the immediately released product. However, many development teams hold onto high-quality feature request ideas for their planning of future versions of a product.

If you have a brilliant idea, but suspect it might be a feature that couldn’t easily be implemented in the current beta product you’re testing, submit it anyway! The company’s product team could add your top-notch feature request to a future generation of the product you’re currently testing.

2. Feature Improvement Requests

You can also submit a small suggestion for how to improve an existing feature on a beta product. For example, say you’re testing a fitness mobile app whose text and icons are relatively small and hard to make out. You submit a feature improvement request to make the app’s text and icons bigger. You’ve submitted this request because, while using the app while on a run or at the gym, you’ve found it’s difficult to access certain app features because they’re hard to read. By suggesting larger in-app icons and text, the existing interface could be significantly enhanced by making a minor change in visual sizing that could be greatly appreciated by the app’s overall, future user base.

Making small suggestions to improve existing features can improve the product in bigger ways than you might think. These suggestions also have a much higher likelihood of affecting the final product than a feature request for a dreamy “new” feature. Any beta manager will tell you, some of the best feature requests aren’t big game-changing ideas, but rather, they’re suggestions for small tweaks that improve users’ everyday experiences with a product.

3. Unresolved Problems

Finally, sometimes a tester will feel like something is missing in a product, but they just don’t know exactly what should be added, improved, or how to best vocalize their idea. For example, you’re enjoying your experience using the fitness wearable device you’re testing — you’re just not enjoying it enough to consider integrating this device into your daily life. In cases like this, it’s worth submitting a feature request. Even if you don’t know how to fix something (i.e. smaller fitness bracelet, waterproof features, more functionality, etc.), letting a beta manager know there is room for improvement is enough to make a difference. It could also inspire a solution from another beta tester in the project, or give another tester the confidence needed to share some feature ideas they were mulling over.

Submitting Helpful Feature Requests

If you are passionate about helping improve the product you’re testing, there are a couple ways you can improve the feature requests you submit.

First, don’t just explain what you want to be changed — spend time answering why it’s important for a feature you’ve requested to be changed. When a development team designs a product, sometimes it can be difficult for them to guess how a customer will use their product in the real world.

For example, say you’re testing a podcast streaming app, but you’re having difficulty finding your most recently listened to podcast episode. Instead of just saying “Add a Last Played button to the home screen”, explain why this change would be helpful. Explain how you needed to scroll through multiple screens to find your unfinished podcast and how that negatively impacted your product experience. This can paint the picture for the product team of how a particular feature works within your context, which will help them make the product better for other users like you.

Second, get creative with your feature request submissions. If you have a great idea for a new feature (or an improvement on an existing feature) consider including a screenshot. If you have graphic design skills, send the development team a mockup of what you’re thinking. Any additional materials you think could help paint the picture of the new feature you’re imagining can make a difference.

Third, pay attention to the tester discussion surrounding your feature request after you submit it. A beta or product manager may ask for clarification about your idea, and other testers could chime in with ideas that add to your original feature request — making it stronger. Conversely, look at the feature requests other testers have submitted and contribute to their ideas. You may have some additional insights that help flesh out their feature suggestion.

Feature requests play a unique role in the final stages of product development. They provide a development team the earliest viable form of customer feedback regarding the feature design of their product. For that reason, a well-thought-out feature request doesn’t just affect a company’s final product, but can also influence the direction the product takes in the future.

Learn more ways you can give feedback during a Betabound test!