Interview with a Betabound All-Star: Mark Malley

There are many different types of testers with different motivations. However, there are some qualities that make you stand out as a tester. We like to highlight testers in our community that hold these such qualities. We call them our Betabound All-Stars.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to Mark Malley. With a decade of beta testing experience under his belt, Mark has repeatedly proven that he has what it takes to be considered a Betabound All-Star. Mark is an IT project manager from Plymouth, CT. Let’s have a few words with Mark.

What got you into beta testing?
My interest in beta testing began in college when I was majoring in Information Science and Technology and took a few courses in Human/Computer Interaction at Drexel University. The professor of one of my courses observed many of the innovations at IBM and shared several of the stories of poor design, encouraging us to always look at things from the viewpoint of users. I quickly became a fan of Don Norman and constantly had an eye out for good user design, and always had in the back of my mind to work in product testing.

In the early 2000s I usually rushed out to order the latest and greatest gadgets, but often the software wasn’t ready to support the rapid changes to hardware. I reached out to the developers of the software I used the most and offered to be a beta tester. Many companies accepted, and since these were applications I used regularly, I was able to provide useful feedback. Instead of becoming a full time job, beta testing became a hobby, and I’ve been beta testing ever since.

What’s been your favorite part about being a beta tester?
It’s really hard to come up with my favorite aspect of beta testing. The best part may be providing valuable feedback to development teams. I love when I am working with the people who designed a product and they tested it in-house, and yet I realize I’ve stumped them or discovered something to improve. It’s a really satisfying feeling to uncover an issue that otherwise would have snuck into the production product.

What makes being a beta tester for Betabound unique?
Betabound is unique because of the number of beta opportunities available to those interested in beta testing, and the large pool of beta testers. The Centercode platform makes it really easy to communicate with those running the beta and with other beta testers. The testing portal makes it easy as a beta tester to share videos, pictures, and journals to demonstrate any issues with the tested product. The people I meet through Betabound really add to the experience, and it feels like a small family.

What motivates you to keep devoting your time to beta testing?
The more I beta test the more I’m amazed with the trust companies put in their beta testers, and that trust is really motivating. As a beta tester I have the latest and greatest, and I play a part in making sure what I’m testing is the “greatest” when the product is put on the market. It’s extremely satisfying to see a product make it to retail with features or changes that originated from the beta community.

Any advice you would give to newer beta testers?
My first piece of advice would be to apply to test products that you would actually use and could provide valuable feedback for. If you hate flying, don’t apply to be a beta tester for a new space shuttle. If you’re excited about the product and it’s something you would use, beta testing comes naturally. There isn’t anything special people have to do to uncover issues or generate product improvements, these things typically come just from using a product as normal, since everyone has a little different definition of normal. After all, this is the reason companies should be beta testing products in the first place. Don’t be afraid to mention an issue you think might be the result of “doing something wrong.” If something doesn’t work for the beta tester, it will likely be an issue for users who pay for the product once the product is on the market. Just because a user is doing something wrong and finds the right way to do it doesn’t mean the product can’t be improved.

What do you like to do for fun?
I like to ride my motorcycle across the country every year, it’s a great way to see and experience everything America has to offer. Though I’m currently working towards my doctorate, with whatever spare time I have left I like to brew beer and spend a few weekends each year camping.

We are very fortunate to have so many great testers in our community, and we enjoy sharing their experiences with you. We hope that you find our interviews with Betabound testers helpful as well. Keep an eye out for more installments in the coming weeks.

Not a Betabound community member yet? Sign up now!