Here comes the end of 2018 and so is my desire to summarize all of the things that happened at TestingCatalog for the whole year. At first, I just wanted to keep things short, though, because there was a lot of stuff going on, I certainly cannot promise you that.
From the beginning, this project’s main intention was to create a platform that connects beta testers and developers. A year ago we had to choose a new path for TestingCatalog, and then came the idea of going more towards the media sphere, based on the vast majority of our audience is who pushed us, and the low demand from developers’ side.
During 2018 our traffic has grown 10 times to a mere 100K visitors a month. Of course, we had to overcome numerous challenges, but everything has paid off. Because of these fantastic results, we sure are going to set even higher goals for next year.
The picture below, which is our banner image, represents TestingCatalog’s motto, or rather our message for you guys.
Why we chose the word “Unlock”
As these days people do spend large quantities of their lives while using their mobile phones, efficiency and productivity are crucial. People need to be in charge of their gadgets for the basic reason that those expose human’s lives to the outside world. Also, you know that this is Android and everything is possible (with or without root access). On the other side, new apps and updates appear constantly and it is extremely hard to keep up with all of them. This is exactly what we want to help you with.
How we got here
Before continuing, I would like to highlight some of the changes that took place in this project.
There were not that many updates to our Android app because our focus was aimed at improving the website, but we still listened to our users and their reviews. Download TestingCatalog from Google Play
- New sorting button on the home screen, which can be used to sort apps by date or by rating
- New ‘Launch app’ button to launch apps directly from the TestingCatalog app
- New ‘Open in Google Play’ button to join beta programs directly via the Play Store
- New option to log in anonymously
- Removed the automatic email subscription
- Replaced banner ads with transition ads
- New designs for the app, report and blog pages with AMP support
AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is a pretty much new technology created by Google that makes web pages load instantly. This is one of the most decisive factors for mobile web users. Example: YouTube beta page
- GDPR compliance and an updated About page
We do care about the personal data of our readers and we are treating security very seriously. In addition to that, we started following Google News’es guidelines for media publishers and we want to be fully transparent with our readers on what we are doing. You can always find more info on our revamped About page.
- Support for APKMirror links and external beta testing programs
We do know that APK Mirror is a great source for Android apps, plus there are many beta apps too and since 2018 we have begun tracking updates there, apart from Google Play and Google+. Our app banners now show links to APK Mirror when available and this gives our users an additional choice. For a reference, see the Google Play Services beta page.
- Push notifications
All users can subscribe to our push notifications service from the homepage of TestingCatalog.com
- A lot of small changes and optimizations, including SEOs and many other things
All these changes were mostly driven by user reviews and GDPR requirements that were enforced by the European Union. Besides, we got to spend countless hours creating fresh and helpful content for you, starting from app-specific guides and continuing with refreshed blog posts like our [Beta testing guide](https://www.testingcatalog.com/blog/post/amp/2.
The second big step for us was becoming a source for Google’s News platform and we did it. You can go ahead and add TestingCatalog on Google News to your favorite sources.
We got one more team member who joined us and is leading our editorial part. Eray helped us reach our goal to become a media publisher and this was the most important achievement for us! You can always get more information about him and say “Hi!” by going on his profile page at TestingCatalog.
There were only two live events that we attended, but they were great! I personally took part of a local Google I/O Extended Livestream. This time it was not very rich in regards to beta testing related news, but, as always, it was nice to join and interesting to watch. I promised myself that one day I will spend a day at the main event.
The second event which I visited was Testathon in Berlin (Hackathon for testers). It was a lot of fun and an awesome opportunity to train my social skills. I took some pictures too.
- We got 625 000 unique users on the website during this year.
- Our mobile app passed 100 000 installs on Google Play and has 25 000 active users at the moment.
- We got 2 500 likes on our Facebook page, 2 000 members on our Facebook group.
- We got 500 followers on Instagram, 600 subscribers on our Telegram channel and 500 email newsletter subscribers.
What did not work out
In fact, nothing, because everything that we are doing right now is part of an experiment, so if something fails, it will not be a problem, because we have tons of knowledge about our audience, the business and other people involved in Android-related stuff.
- Selling testing services on Fiverr
It was a great thing to start with and we got 5-star reviews for all our Gigs, and some awesome feedback. The main issue there was, and still is the demand, which was is quite low, compared to the efforts we had to put in to deliver a good experience for our clients. I do believe that it is still possible, but requires a bit of a different approach.
- Software testing courses
I have not invested a lot into the idea running testing courses and I think that I should keep it for the future. The main obstacle for me is that the educational field is a completely separate direction.
- Testing competitions
Those depend solely on the amount of effort you put into them. I wanted to know if it is possible to organize testing competitions on a large scale without putting in too much effort. Guess what! 😅
At the same time, along the things that are under our control, there are some that are not. By looking at the state of Google+ (after the UI redesign) it was clear that things were not going well. That is why in the beginning of 2018 I have started putting additional efforts to diversify our social resources, and, perhaps, more into Facebook and Telegram.
So, the announcement of Google+'es shutdown was not a surprise to me, but at the same time, it is still one of our major traffic sources and this means that after April we will lose around 80% of our total traffic on the website. On the bright side, this will still be enough for us to operate in our usual way. Honestly, I do still love this network and many of its features, but I am also happy that Google+ will be closed forever, because dealing with spammers one hundred times a day is not fun at all.
So, what's next
With or without Google+, TestingCatalog will always have to progress. I did enjoy running a media resource for years until now and I certainly want to continue going forward.
The main focus for the first half of 2019 will be trying different partnerships and affiliate programs. In most scenarios, it will mean that TestingCatalog will expand its scope by adding other topics to see if they will be valuable enough for the community. In fact, this is the only guaranteed way that big publishers keep their businesses alive.
Apart from covering Android apps, we may start writing content about beta programs regarding proprietary operating systems like Android, One UI by Samsung, MIUI by Xiaomi, and others. This moves us a bit, in a way, towards the hardware testing direction, but I think that it would make TestingCatalog even more interesting and resourceful.
Nevertheless, there are many things hanging in the air like a major website redesign, Android app redesign with new features to be added. I am really looking forward to realize them, but they are still not my biggest priority.
Our reports about Android app updates are going to evolve as well.
Coming back to our main goal, we want to become the most helpful resource around when it comes to Android apps and their features.
Should we focus only on beta apps, or maybe on other types too? Should we also write about hardware testing? We don't know yet what we are going to decide on, and we are always seeking your opinions! What do you think?