Software testing is an essential part of project development. It’s a vast process offering manual and automated approaches that have many crucial differences. Using the correct testing method can help you achieve your goal more effectively. The choice will depend on your project’s requirements, complexity, budget, timeline, etc.
Let’s look at the facts and research behind manual and automation testing to define the method that will suit your product development the best.
Manual Testing vs. Automation Testing: Definition and Use Cases
First of all, let’s answer the fundamental question asked by many product owners and novice QA specialists: “What is manual testing and automation testing?”
Manual testing is one of the primary forms of testing where you don’t need to use any third-party tools. QA specialists validate the software’s functionality and design by creating specific test plans and scenarios for manual implementation, as well as reporting test results. Ultimately, they find both “visible” and “hidden” product bugs – discrepancies between expected and actual results.
In turn, an automated approach means automating the testing process with the help of special software.
Typically, the testing process includes the following steps:
- Requirements analysis. Your technicians need to know your product well to instantly detect any deviations. When it comes to manual testing, you may also need properly documented specifications.
- Creation of test scenarios. Based on the product functional specifications, testers can set several test scenarios to check different interactions with your software. They should cover all the main features and design elements of the product.
- Testing. Once you have scripts and know exactly which parts of the software to test, you can run the tests one by one.
- Bug reporting. In manual testing, don’t forget to keep a record of all existing errors that you find in the product. Clear and detailed logging can save you time and money and will help the development team fix flaws faster.
While automated testing is not suitable for every project, manual testing will be for the majority of cases.
Advantages of manual testing
- Truthful testing
Manual testing allows you to simulate the real environment in which your product will be used more accurately. Therefore, when the user interacts with the product, any errors or shortcomings that may appear most likely will be detected during the manual testing process.
- Detailed design overview
Automatic scripts won’t give you full feedback on the look and feel of the product. However, information from a real person is invaluable, especially if you want to make sure that your application is easy to use and has the proper user interface.
- Short-term investments
By using manual testing, you don’t need to spend money on special tools. Having a few specialists on your team or hiring additional quality assurance resources will save money and doesn’t require upfront costs.
- High flexibility
Sometimes it is crucial to react instantly to any changes in requirements. Manual testing gives us the ability to adapt to absolutely anything. If you need to test a new feature or recent changes as quickly as possible, then manual testing is your lifesaver.
Disadvantages of manual testing
Of course, like any other approach, manual testing has its drawbacks too.
- Longer process
While developing automated tests requires much more time and human resources, manual testing can take significant resources throughout a product’s life cycle. The reason is that the costs depend on the human resources involved in testing, and the time required for testing may be longer than expected.
Several technical limitations can prevent manual testing. Therefore, even though manual testing is conducted under human supervision, it is not suitable for several basic testing types. This is especially true for non-functional types such as load testing, performance testing, and stress testing – tasks that will be difficult for you to complete manually.
Best use cases for manual testing
- Testing of user interfaces
If UI/UX design plays a crucial role in your product, manual testing is exactly what you need. It will help you test user interfaces and their visual aspects. Therefore, manual testers can immediately notice any color errors or changes in font size. As mentioned above, the automation tools won’t be able to tell you whether to use a larger font or change colors.
- Testing at the early development stages
By using manual testing, testers can quickly spot bottlenecks at the initial stage of development, which significantly saves time and resources on fixing bugs.
- Testing of non-automated scenarios
Some tests cannot be automated. And in most cases, data can only be checked manually. For example, you can automatically check if the printer is printing; however, you have to check the printed images’ quality manually.
Types of testing that are best done manually
- Exploratory testing
In this case, you can rely on a set of human skills such as knowledge, experience, and creativity. Typically, this type doesn’t have time limitations and doesn’t require complete documentation.
- Usability testing
This type aims to test product qualities such as usability and efficiency. In this case, with the help of manual testing, you can evaluate these points using the personal experience of the QA specialist.
- Special testing
This approach doesn’t require any planning or preparation, so it cannot be automated.
When it comes to automation testing, large projects benefit more in this case. For example, you cannot manually test a product like Google with over two billion code lines.
Automation testing is used as part of a continuous integration and agile software development approach, as it allows the entire product to be tested at each iteration.
When to Use Automation Testing?
Automated testing is the process of executing tests against predefined scripts. When analyzing the difference between manual and automation testing, you can see that the main polarity lies in how each method is executed.
So, when should we automate tests? To answer this question, let’s look at the key benefits of this approach.
Advantages of automation testing
Automated testing is more cost-effective than manual. While it requires a higher investment initially, the return on that investment will ultimately be much more favorable.
- Highly-accurate results
Since automated testing is done using third-party software, the likelihood of missing any defects is significantly reduced, resulting in more accurate results. Besides, automated scripts execute many different test cases during each test run, providing reliable testing that cannot be done manually.
- Fast process and convenient reporting
The use of software makes the testing process much faster than doing it manually. The tools record all test sessions so that you can reuse them later in other scenarios. Therefore, automated testing provides a more efficient testing process and higher company productivity.
Disadvantages of automated testing
- Additional expenses
Whether you are using a third-party tool or a custom automation framework, you will need additional overhead to set up the required testing process.
- Lack of human participation
Don’t forget that technology cannot give you an authentic opinion about your product’s design. It only checks every element of your project against the parameters you set. Therefore, if you want to be sure that the application has an appealing appearance, you will need to use a manual approach.
- Functionality limitations
It’s hard to find an all-in-one automated testing solution that offers all required features for rigorous testing. What’s more, like in any other software product, bugs and errors are inevitable.
Best use cases for automated testing
- Working on time-consuming tasks
After you have made all the changes and modifications to your product, you need to make sure that new functionality works correctly. By doing regression tests, you can find new bugs with less effort.
- Advanced types of testing
There is no manual alternative for load and performance testing. Automated testing simulates a considerable number of concurrent users.
Types of testing that are best done automatically
- Regression testing
If you change your codebase frequently and make minor changes, then regression testing can only benefit from automation. This will provide repeatability and save you time by re-running test scripts many times.
- Performance testing
With automation tools, even one QA professional can easily simulate vast numbers of concurrent users, database queries, and server queries to test system performance under load.
Make Your Choice Now!
It’s time to find your happy middle ground and make a choice. We tried to consider the main points of the manual vs. automated testing question. However, despite the vast selection of different testing methods and tools, we still cannot rely on just one type. Both automatic and manual tests have their pros and cons. Of course, you can’t automate everything. Thus, manual tests continue to play an essential role in the software development process.
Are you looking for reliable quality assurance specialists who use both manual and automated testing approaches in their practice? Feel free to contact the Webbylab team for highly professional QA assistance right now!