What exactly is Manual Testing?
When any tester, developer or QA team begins a functional or performance testing process for the first time, they’ll likely start with manual testing. Regardless of the size of the company or web application, manual testing is an essential component of any testing strategy because it gives deep insight into the user experience.
This is because manual testing is done completely by human hand, without the assistance of automation tools or scripts of any kind. For this reason, manual testing is the ideal way to assess the details that are relevant to the end-user including how the application functions, how well visual elements render, and other GUI qualities.
Manual testing is specifically valuable in exploratory testing or other test cases that are only run once or twice and ensures that you discover bugs and other issues early on in the development cycle. These tests are an optimal environment for incorporating human observation without an urgent need for the speed and in-depth accuracy that’s characteristic of automated testing.
Manual testing also allows testers to build test cases, which are needed for automation so that you can repeat those actions. No matter how much time you’re willing to put into manual testing, it’s the first step to creating a script that can be run in parallel in other browsers, or many times over.
For this reason, it’s crucial to understand some of the stages and techniques before executing manual tests.
Types of Software Tests
These stages of testing are sequential, starting with the smallest component of the application and progressing to make sure that all parts are working together.
Unit testing is at the bottom of the testing pyramid because, as the smallest testable part of an application, it focuses on one individual function within the entire application. Although this type of test is better performed in an automated manner – it’s still the base of our pyramid and most plentiful type of tests out there.
Clicking a button to make sure it takes you to the correct destination would be a unit test. For example, making sure that the “Next page” button will actually take to you the next page.
Integration testing is the next step after unit testing and is the process of integrating multiple units to test them together. This lets testers observes how different components of the software harmonize to ensure functionality.
An example of an integrated test could be your applications log-in process. Now, you’re testing whether entering a username and password and clicking login will bring you to the Welcome screen. These types of tests match two or more unit tests together.
It is important to have an inverse amount of tests as you go down the testing pyramid. This allows for easy debugging and error locating, speeding up both testing and development. Have unit tests along with integration and other test lets you diagnose the exact location of bugs.
A system test refers to testing completely integrated software in order to evaluate that system meets the requirements of the other hardware or software systems that it’ll come in contact with.
This is actually a series of multiple tests including end-to-end scenario testing, verifying inputs and output and testing the user experience. There are also multiple types of system testing such as stress, regression and functional testing, the uses of which will differ from tester to tester depending on available time and resources.
Again, all the components that would be tested in a system test have already passed integration testing. System testing after is necessary for testing the design and behavior of the software.
Acceptance testing or User Acceptance testing is the beta testing of the software performed by actual end users. This, of course, is to bring the product into a real life environment to see how well it measures up to a user’s standards in case the tester misses an essential user function, specification or request.
As you can see, manual testing requires a thorough and sequential completion of these stages in order to properly measure a software’s functionality at different points in the testing process in order to target or fix various areas.
Black Box vs White Box Testing
Black box testing and white box testing are two techniques of testing that can be applied to the above stages.
Black box testing is where the internal structure of the software being tested isn’t known to the test, while the internal structure is known within white box testing.
Black box testing is the most common for testers because they don’t have to be expert in coding, making it easier and simpler to execute. It’s also quicker to do because testers only have to look at the GUIs that users are interacting with and looking at.
However, black box testing has restricted coverage in this way and can only evaluate a percentage of every possible test case or scenario, rather it just considers inputs and outputs.
In comparison, white box testing is a little more in-depth and looks at the programmatic structure of the system. In this way, it allows the developer or tester to spot errors and bugs quicker and more accurately and provides a more thorough insight.
Keeping Manual in Your Testing Strategy
While the testing environment is largely moving to automated testing as today’s developers focus on a strategy that embodies agile CI, there will always be a very specific and important place for manual testing. Those hoping to move towards 100 percent automation will find that their results will fall short from complete and efficient web development.
Instead, getting to know your code through the methods and techniques of manual testing will prove to be invaluable when it comes to present and future web testing practices.