Manual testing in software development refers to manually creating and executing test cases without using automation tools. This approach aims to uncover software application issues, bugs, and defects, ensuring its quality and functionality. It's worth noting that manual testing is not only the most commonly used method but also a cost-effective way to evaluate the functionality and performance of a software application.
When it comes to performing tests, there are two primary methods used by Quality Assurance (QA) professionals. The first involves manually executing test cases as outlined in the written test plan, going through each step to identify potential issues. The second method involves automating test scenarios using test automation frameworks, which helps streamline the testing process.
Even though automated testing plays a crucial role in revolutionizing testing practices, the significance of manual testing cannot be ignored. For example, retesting bug fixes and patches in the staging environment before production release, providing automation test reports to manual QA teams for identifying failures, delivering product knowledge transfer to new automation engineers, and addressing low-priority bugs in the backlog. However, there can also be more aspects where manual intervention is required.
Manual testing involves a QA engineer testing a software application manually to find bugs. They follow a written test plan with specific test scenarios and analyze the website or app's performance from a user's point of view. QAs check if the software behaves as expected, and any differences are noted as bugs.
It's particularly important in exploratory testing or cases executed a few times, helping QAs find bugs early in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
This approach is suitable for testing smaller software projects. Manual testing is still necessary in larger projects with thousands or millions of test cases, to see if it's feasible to automate certain test cases.
Manual testing is important because it helps developers understand how their application behaves, its usability, and overall user experience. It's also helpful in finding issues that might be missed in automated tests.
In the next section, we will understand the importance of manually testing the software applications.
Every day, loads of new software applications hit the market. To make sure these software applications work flawlessly, it's crucial to use both manual testing along with automated testing. Here are four reasons why manual testing is super important:
Manual testing is a hands-on, time-consuming process with the potential for human errors, yet it offers the freedom to explore and doesn't require technical programming skills or predefined frameworks. However, its reliance on human judgment can lead to slightly less accurate results compared to automated methods. Let’s look at the characteristics of the manual test process in the next section.
Shown below are the characteristics of the manual testing process:
Manual testing is helpful, particularly for its flexibility, human insight, and cost-effectiveness in specific situations. However, its limitations in speed, scalability, and consistency highlight the need for a balanced approach, often combined with automated testing for a comprehensive quality assurance strategy. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of manual testing.
Choosing between manual and automation testing can depend on your project requirements, budget constraints, and the nature of the software being developed. However, you can use a blended or hybrid approach to leverage the advantages of both methods. To have a better clarity of this, let’s understand how manual testing is different from automation testing.
In this section, let’s explore the difference between manual and automation testing.
|Test cases are executed manually by human testers.
|Test cases are executed using automated tools or frameworks.
|Speed and efficiency
|Typically slower and less efficient.
|Faster and more efficient, especially for repetitive tasks.
|Relies on human testers for test execution and analysis.
|Involves minimal human intervention once test scripts are created.
|Flexible and adaptable to changes.
|Less adaptable to frequent changes in requirements.
|Ideal for exploratory testing.
|Less effective for exploratory testing as it follows predefined test scripts.
|More cost-effective for small-scale projects.
|Initial setup and tool costs may be high but cost-effective in the long run for repetitive testing.
|Depends on the tester's expertise.
|Can provide comprehensive coverage, especially for extensive scenarios.
|Prone to human error in repetitive scenarios.
|Well-suited for regression testing, ensuring stability after changes.
|Manual testing skills, and domain knowledge are required.
|Requires programming and scripting skills and testing expertise.
|Early Detection of Defects
|Defects may be identified later in the lifecycle
|Enables early defect detection, especially in continuous integration pipelines.
To perform manual testing, different methods or techniques are used, each customized to address specific facets of software testing. Let’s discuss the techniques of manual testing in the next section.
Manual testing comes in various forms, each designed for specific purposes and types of software. Here, we'll look at some of the common types:
This approach allows for a comprehensive testing in terms of functionality, performance, and user experience without requiring knowledge of the internal code structure. It is particularly valuable for validating that the software meets specified requirements and behaves as intended from the user's perspective.
Typically performed by developers or quality assurance professionals with a deep understanding of the internal workings, white box testing aims to identify issues such as coding errors, and security vulnerabilities. It provides a more detailed testing of the software's internal components, ensuring a thorough evaluation of its reliability and adherence to coding standards.
Now you know the different techniques of manual testing, let’s look at the types of testing software applications manually.
Manual testing comprises various stages, such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing, user interface (UI) testing, and acceptance testing. However, these stages may not follow a sequential order. Depending on your software project requirements, there can be overlap or a different sequence of these stages.
Typically conducted by developers during the development phase, unit testing helps identify errors early in the process, promoting code reliability and maintainability. It is an integral part of the Software Development Life Cycle, contributing to the development of robust and modular code.
This testing phase involves testing the software in a holistic manner, validating its performance, security, and overall functionality. System testing aims to identify issues that may arise from the interaction of integrated components, providing a thorough validation of the software's capabilities before it is released to end-users.
Typically performed by end-users or stakeholders, acceptance testing aims to ensure that the software fulfills its intended purpose and aligns with user expectations. This phase includes confirming that all features work as intended, addressing any outstanding issues, and obtaining final approval for the software release. Acceptance testing provides a crucial validation step to ensure that the software is ready for deployment and meets the needs of its intended users.
No matter how testers decide to perform manual testing, they all need to stick to the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). The primary difference comes down to how they carry out the testing. In the next section, let’s explore the manual testing process.
The manual test process takes time, but it's the human touch that makes this kind of testing really effective in achieving a high-quality software product. Manual testing is simple compared to automation testing since it requires fewer technical skills, and you don't have to deal with learning or setting up automation testing tools.
However, testers still need to be familiar with various manual testing methods. Like any software testing, the main goal of manual testing is to check the system against the specified requirements or user stories, find bugs, and help the development team create software applications without defects.
Here are the steps involved in the manual testing process:
In the upcoming section, we will understand the above manual test process with the help of an example.
Consider a scenario involving manual testing for an eCommerce website. This real-life example demonstrates how manual testing is essential to ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience on an eCommerce website, covering critical processes like user registration and the checkout journey.
Test Scenario: User Registration and Checkout Process
Test Case Designing
Steps: Navigate to the registration page, fill in valid user details, and submit the form.Expected Result: User receives a confirmation message and can log in.
Steps: Attempt registration with invalid or incomplete information.Expected Result: Appropriate error messages are displayed.
Steps: Add items to the cart, proceed to checkout, and complete the purchase.Expected Result: Successful order placement, confirmation email received.
Test environment Setup
Reporting and Analysis
Defect Fix & Re-Verification
When it comes to testing software applications manually, you get two options: test on the local machine or the cloud. Most organizations prefer to test on a cloud as it offers scalability and reliability and eliminates the hassle of setting up an in-house infrastructure. This helps testers validate their websites and mobile applications across different real browsers, devices, and operating systems.
AI-powered test orchestration and execution platforms like LambdaTest let you perform manual web and mobile app testing on an online grid of different browsers, devices, and operating systems combinations. In the next section, let’s see how to perform manual testing on a cloud-based platform like LambdaTest.
Cloud testing platforms like LambdaTest let you manually test websites on real operating systems (Windows and macOS) and mobile apps on virtual and real device cloud (Android and iOS).
LambdaTest also lets you perform manual web testing on desktop and mobile environments. For demonstration, let’s look at how to test websites manually on the desktop using the LambdaTest cloud.
A cloud-based operating system will be launched where you can manually test your websites and web applications.
In this section, let’s look at how to test mobile apps manually on the LambdaTest cloud.
For demonstration purposes, let’s choose Real Device.
It will route you to the selected cloud-based device.
For more information, check out the tutorial below on how to perform real-time testing on LambdaTest.
So, in this section, we looked at performing manual testing on the cloud-based grid and reaping additional benefits these platforms offer. However, there are also some myths associated with manual testing.
Let’s discuss some of the myths associated with the manual test process.
One common misconception in the testing world is that manual testing is easy. It's a natural tendency for people to label things as easy when they have some knowledge about them. However, the truth is, we often find things difficult when we lack knowledge about them.
Building on the first myth, there's a belief that anyone can do testing. This is not the case. Testing requires passion. While it may sound appealing at first, real testing involves thinking outside the box and attempting to break systems. It takes something special to be a tester.
A prevalent myth is that manual testing is obsolete and automation has taken its place. This is not true. Manual testing is the backbone of the testing phase, and automation comes after the product has achieved stability. Manual testing ensures a stable product is delivered to customers, and automation enhances that stability for end users.
Due to the aforementioned myths, some believe that manual testers receive low pay. In certain organizations, especially those run by non-technical individuals, manual testers may be undervalued.
However, well-established organizations, led by professional technical experts, recognize the importance of experienced manual testers and offer compensation that aligns with their skills and contributions. In case you are planning to kick start your career in manual testing, prepare yourself with these manual testing interview questions and answers.
Another common misconception is that testers have weak coding skills. In reality, testing often involves coding. Testers create complex SQL queries for data validation, modify code for database migration testing, and write scripts in languages like Java or Python for automation testing. Testing requires a strong understanding of coding principles.
Testing software manually is a crucial part of the software development journey, allowing testers to replicate real-world user experiences and pinpoint flaws in software products. Despite its importance, manual testing presents testers with a set of challenges that they must navigate to uphold product quality.
With software releases becoming a common thing, it's imperative that the testing process initiates early, right from the requirements specification and planning phase. However, manual testing encounters several challenges that need to be addressed before streamlining the testing cycle.
To ensure a good web and mobile experience, detailed software testing is crucial. However, it can become complex and costly if not properly planned. Therefore, software teams need to approach manual testing in a systematic and planned manner.
Testers should follow some of the best practices while performing manual testing.
In this manual testing tutorial, we discussed the characteristics of manual testing, its pros and cons, core techniques, types of manual testing, and how to perform manual testing by leveraging the potential of cloud testing platforms.
Testing software manually requires a tester to have patient, creative, and open-minded. It's a crucial aspect of creating user-friendly software because, ultimately, people are using these applications and testers must approach their work with the mindset of an end user. Thinking from the end user's perspective is key to ensuring the software meets their needs effectively.
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Salman works as a Digital Marketing Manager at LambdaTest. With over four years in the software testing domain, he brings a wealth of experience to his role of reviewing blogs, learning hubs, product updates, and documentation write-ups. Holding a Master's degree (M.Tech) in Computer Science, Salman's expertise extends to various areas including web development, software testing (including automation testing and mobile app testing), CSS, and more.
Shahzeb currently holds the position of Senior Product Marketing Manager at LambdaTest and brings a wealth of experience spanning over a decade in Quality Engineering, Security, and E-Learning domains. Over the course of his 3-year tenure at LambdaTest, he actively contributes to the review process of blogs, learning hubs, and product updates. With a Master's degree (M.Tech) in Computer Science and a seasoned expert in the technology domain, he possesses extensive knowledge spanning diverse areas of web development and software testing, including automation testing, DevOps, continuous testing, and beyond.
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