9 Must Have Skills To Master Exploratory Testing

Arnab Roy Chowdhury

Posted On: December 6, 2018

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Read time7 Min Read

Exploratory testing is a testing technique that allows testing professionals to ensure whether the developed application is working as intended. Manual testing exists only because of exploratory testing. It can never be replaced with automation since it does not requires a fixed script or a pre-decided approach.

Exploratory testing requires you to think out of the box and find out an innovative approach to test an application by putting yourself in the user’s shoe and check how the application is behaving. Here, we shall discuss 9 skills exploratory testers must have in order to successfully deploy an application in production.

Taking the Parallel Approach

Often a situation may arise when a particular problem has been investigated multiple times by the members of your team. To reach the solution it will require an investigative thinking in a way that has not been done before. Lateral thinking that is taking an indirect approach to investigate an issue is a must-have skill in exploratory testing.

If you are able to think out of the box, you will be able to view the website from a different angle and find out new ways to interact or play with it. By taking a different approach, you will be able to discover bugs that have not been detected before.

Ability to Take Rational Approach

If you think systematically and follow the “rulebook”, you will be able to uncover critical bugs, but may miss out on certain simple bugs that may affect the system during production. The ability to take a rational approach and think with reasoning is must if you want to uncover those hidden bugs. For instance, if you are performing cross browser testing for your application then you will need to analyze and create a proper browser compatibility matrix and share a list of browsers on which the application is meant to run properly.

Be a Good Communicator

It is necessary to have good communication skills before you start executing exploratory testing. There will be times when you will find yourself sitting in a meeting with the development team or the stakeholders, where you would have to explain them about the scopes and strategies you are about to undertake. Letting other testers know about the bugs you found and how they are critical to business and should be prioritized accordingly also requires good communication skills. With effective communication, you would also be able to explain your findings in a detailed and relevant manner. Ability to communicate is a game-changer skill for exploratory testers.

Storytelling Ability – Make Bug Detection Interesting

Storytelling ability is one of the important skill for exploratory testing professional must have. When you detect a bug, the next step is to explain it to the developers that why getting this bug fixed is critical for business. Your job would be to create a fictional user and make the listeners understand that how that user will feel when he is unable to use the specific functionality. Since no developers like others to tell them that their code is wrong, you will be required to explain it to them in a friendly manner instead of directly pointing out the bug to them.

Ability to Work with a Team

Coordination is the most important skill for exploratory testing. Situations may arise when a particular bug or problem is not detected by an individual tester but detected by someone else from the team. It is rightly said that multiple brains work better than one. The ideal thing is to work collectively with your team and rule out personal biased opinions.

Be Technically Sound

Testing domains like visual testing or accessibility testing do not require much technical knowledge. However, exploratory testing is a completely different story. You won’t be required to do any coding, but you should have the knowledge of a full-stack developer. Starting from the user interface and ending at the database architecture, you must be able to understand what the code conveys and general coding of the different layers of the interface. Without sufficient technical knowledge, chances are there that you may overlook some critical bugs.

Be the Sherlock of Your Team

Just by mere observation, a skilled exploratory testing professional will be able to spot bugs that may have been missed out by others. Just by observing the system a skilled exploratory testing professional is able to find out probable bugs and raise questions long before the testing cycle began. Observational skills can be said to be the foundation of exploratory testing.

Ability to Think Critically & Effective Time Management

When you are thinking critically while performing testing, various arguments will come to your find that can explain the codes, leading to a new observation. Exploratory testers having critical thinking skill are ready to suggest actionable approach with respect to the risk associated. With critical analysis you can approach the product with an out of the box thinking, helping you to test your software in the wild.
At present, most projects are following Agile Methodology, that means in a fixed time, both
development, as well as the testing phase of a user story, needs to be completed. Since exploratory testing takes up quite a lot of time, a tester should be proficient enough when it comes to time management so that he is able to complete the testing within the limited amount of time provided.

Be a Problem Solver

Another important skill for exploratory testing is the ability to solve problems. They should stay focused on their goals and no matter how many external factors pressurize them, like lack of resources, delivery deadline, complex procedures, they should not move away from the goals. Experienced testers need to employ multiple techniques like A/B testing, Analogy, brainstorming to find out the solutions to specific problems.

Exploratory testing is not about following the instruction manual. It’s about an end to end testing
throughout the entire application and trying to find bugs where they are not supposed to be. The job can be very hectic and while doing that, be calm and composed. Amidst the chaos of multiple bugs and developers denying to accept them as relevant ones, the quality of your job will depend on how calmly you can handle it. Staying calm is the key to more efficient exploratory testing.

For successful delivery of an application, exploratory testing is highly vital. However, hiring a skilled exploratory tester is equally important as well as difficult. You can learn the fundamentals of exploratory testing through training or online materials, but in order to become successful in the domain, you will need to have experience. With more experience in the field, you will build up these skills in no time.

Also, check out this tutorial to learn about Pair Testing and its role in improving teamwork and testing quality!

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Arnab Roy Chowdhury

Arnab Roy Chowdhury is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has been writing content for about 5 years and has strong expertise in technical blogs, travelogues, and content in the latest programming languages.

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