Beta phase

Beta is when the service finally comes to life. The goal of beta is to turn your best-performing prototype into a live, working service for a large group of people.

This version of your service is called the “minimum viable product” – it’s the quickest and simplest version of a service with just enough features to meet basic user needs and provide value.

In 'beta' you will:

  • help bring the service vision to life
  • support the service’s launch and monitor its performance

Your team from alpha may need to grow to include user experience designers, developers and content writers.

Bring the service to life 

From beta onwards, service design starts to play more of a support role.

The research and prototyping from discovery and alpha help to form a prioritized list (or backlog) of features and improvements that the team will incorporate into the service.

The role of the service designer is to ensure that the insights that were uncovered during the previous phases of work are appropriately reflected in the backlog and how the service is ultimately built.

One way to do this is through usability testing. Test new service features with users as they are built. Use the feedback that you collect to help populate the backlog with features that could improve future versions.

Make sure everyone can use your service

As part of providing a service that everyone can use, at your beta assessment you’ll need to show how you’ve run regular accessibility testing on your service and run research sessions with people who have a disability.

You should do an accessibility audit and will need to fix any accessibility issues before moving into public beta. Also consider whether the service has any pain points that might lead to people being excluded, and what steps you are taking to address them.

Prepare to launch

When the minimum viable product is done, you’re ready to launch the service as a beta for live testing.

It’s easy to surrender to perfectionism and delay the launch until every single issue has been worked out and it functions perfectly. No service will ever be perfect. As soon as the service can provide value, or provides more value than the existing service, it’s ready to launch.

While feedback and analytics are collected to help inform the backlog, services can and should keep evolving after launch, which is what makes it critical to have a plan for continuous testing and improvement.

Completing Beta

All services are different, but most projects need 3-4 months to complete beta.

By the end of beta, expect to have:

  • launched a version of the service for public use
  • routinely tested the service and its features with users
  • updated the backlog with suggestions on how to improve the service
  • iterated on the service until it adequately meets user needs
  • created a plan for continuous monitoring and improvement

This content is based on's Service design playbook and draws on the GOV.UK Service Manual's How the beta phase works guide (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence).

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