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I'm a beginner to user experience (and programming) and am interested in feedback on an idea I had for setting up my homepage.

The goal is that a user would enter their information and after clicking "Sign Up", HTML5 geolocation would determine their location. Depending on their location, they would either be able to enter the beta version of my app, create a profile, and get started; or they would sign up and be entered into the database for when the app opened up to more users.

If this is a bad approach I'm curious to know if there are ways to improve. I'd like for this to interfere as little as possible with the data entry though.

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It's possible to spoof the geolocation reported by your browser, and it's also possible that the reported location isn't accurate. I wouldn't depend on it exclusively for determining where users are. Consider using IP address as well. Most websites that use location will have an option "is this not correct? report it" (eg. Hulu) –  Rahul Sep 21 '11 at 8:16
    
Does the app itself use gelocation? –  Patrick McElhaney Sep 22 '11 at 0:42
    
I'm considering using "find users nearby" at some point but at the moment the only thing used is search users by a location that is stored in the db as a string. –  tvalent2 Sep 22 '11 at 1:38

2 Answers 2

Is your app going to be location specific once it is out of Beta (e.g. only for people in New York)? If not, then I would argue that this is a bad idea.

Your Beta product is about wider closed testing before you launch publicly, and if the group doing the testing doesn't represent a fair sample of the people who will eventually use the product, then you're doing yourself a disservice.

People from the same area tend to understand and behave more similarly than people from a diverse area. Foe example, you may use words and phrases in your app that make sense to one group but not to another - even when they speak the same language.

Decide what characteristics are important to you in Beta testers and try to choose from the available pool based on that. You won't find a perfect system, but at least you can try make informed choices.

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Thanks for the best practices on a beta app. Definitely worth considering! –  tvalent2 Sep 22 '11 at 1:40

I don't see how this would be any worse than any other scheme for limiting the number of users who have access to your beta program.

In some ways it's actually better as people a) don't have to scramble around looking for invites from people already on the program and b) can still sign up and will presumably become full members when the program rolls out without any further action on their part.

Just be 100% clear about what your are doing. As soon as you know that they don't qualify for beta access tell them so that they don't actually have to enter their details to find out.

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Appreciate the comment. Being up front about it is definitely crucial. Thanks! –  tvalent2 Sep 22 '11 at 1:39

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