What's up with "Beta" websites?

More and more I’m seeing webmasters slap “beta” on top of their website logos.  WTF is up with that?

I can understand that this whole “Web 2.0” thing is supposed to be “web applications” but a website is a website.  Microsoft Word is an application.  Many websites have a lot of dynamic features using Ajax to make them more “application-like”, and in that light they could be considered true “web applications”.

Regardless of any particular domain’s supposed application status, why the hell are you rolling out beta software into production?  If you are going to delude yourself into thinking that your website is truly traditional software, then why are you not following standard development guidelines?

Sure you’ve just added a few features from someone’s pre-written toolkit or haphazardly slapped on a WordPress plugin.  You’re excited to show off these new features to your public.  So instead of testing the application properly, you just have some kid slap “BETA” over your logo? 

This could be fine and dandy if there was a definitive software lifecycle… meaning that you’re actively testing the features and this phase will be over in a period of months… but I’ve seen sites that have had Beta status for over a year, and nothing seems to have changed on the site.

What’s up with that?

For the argument’s sake, I’ll assume that “every” website is legitimate traditional software, developed completely in-house.   You should have a seperate beta domain until it’s fully tested.  Don’t put untested code into production, even if you warn your users that it might have problems.  That’s just sloppy.

Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.