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Manual Testing for Beginners

By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

Testing is a vast domain. When a software application is developed, it goes through various stages of testing. The tests may vary from being functional to non-functional, subject to test requirements.

There are two ways for QAs to carry out tests:

  • By manually executing test cases as mentioned in the written test plan
  • By automating test scenarios using frameworks like Selenium WebDriver

In a tech-advanced world where automation tools and frameworks are making life easier for test engineers, it would be normal to assume that manual testing is obsolete. This is, however, completely untrue. This article will explain everything one should know about manual testing. It will also help readers understand why manual testing can’t be avoided altogether.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing, as the term suggests, refers to a test process in which a QA manually tests the software application in order to identify bugs. To do so, QAs follow a written test plan that describes a set of unique test scenarios. The QA is required to analyze the performance of the web or mobile application from an end user’s perspective.

QAs verify the actual behavior of software against expected behavior, and any difference is reported as a bug.

Let’s take a simple example to explain this. A developer has created a website and wants to test it for functionality. In this case, the expected behavior is that the user must be able to enter the username and password and submit the credentials by clicking the Login button.

However, when the test is executed, the Login button doesn’t redirect the user to the home page. In such a case, the QA will report a bug to the developer.

Manual testing is an essential part of any test strategy as it helps QAs gain deeper insight from an end user’s perspective. Since manual testing is carried out by a human without the intervention of test automation frameworks, it judges software from the most important metric: User Experience.

Manual testing plays a vital role in exploratory testing or in test cases that are executed once or twice. This helps QAs to discover bugs in the early stages of the development cycle.

Stages of Manual Testing

1. Unit Testing

Unit Testing involves verification of individual components or units of source code. A unit can be referred to as the smallest testable part of any software. It focuses on testing the functionality of individual components within the application. It is often used by developers to discover bugs in the early stages of the development cycle.

A unit test case would be as fundamental as clicking a button on a web page and verifying whether it performs the desired operation. For example, ensuring that a share button on a webpage lets you share the correct page link.

2. Integration Testing

Integration testing is the next step after unit testing. Multiple units are integrated to be tested as a whole. For example, testing a series of webpages in a particular order to verify interoperability.

This approach helps QAs evaluate how several components of the application work together to provide the desired result. Performing integration testing in parallel with development allows developers to detect and locate bugs faster.

3. System Testing

As the name suggests, system testing involves testing all the integrated modules of the software as a whole. It helps QAs verify whether the system meets the desired requirements. It includes multiple tests like validating output based on specific input,
testing user experience and more.

Teams perform several types of system testing like regression testing, stress testing, functional testing and more, depending on their access to time and resources.

4. Acceptance Testing

The main goal of acceptance testing is to verify whether the system as a whole is fit for use in the real world.

Acceptance testing is performed both internally and externally. Internal acceptance testing (also known as alpha testing) is performed by the members within the organization. External testing (also known as the beta testing) is performed by a limited number of actual end-users. This approach helps teams evaluate how well the product satisfies the user’s standards. It also identifies bugs in the last stage before releasing a product.

Types of Manual Testing

1. White Box Testing

White box Testing, also known as glass box or transparent testing, is an approach in which the QA is familiar with the internal code or structure of the application. It is primarily used for unit testing. White box Testing also covers specific techniques like data flow testing, control flow testing, decision coverage, and path testing, and a few others.

2. Black Box Testing

Black-box testing is a test approach in which the QA doesn’t have any knowledge about the underlying code or structure of the application. The QA interacts with the software application just like an end-user to test its functional and non-functional behavior. This helps to discover some bugs typically overlooked in the earlier stages.

3 Grey Box Testing

Grey-Box test approach is the combination of both white box and black box testing techniques. The main aim of this approach is to identify any bugs present either due to inappropriate usage or any structural flaws.

How to do Manual Testing

Here’s how to perform manual testing step by step:

  1. Analyze requirements from the software requirement specification document
  2. Create a clear test plan
  3. Write test cases that cover all the requirements defined in the document
  4. Get test cases reviewed by the QA lead
  5. Execute test cases and detect any bugs
  6. Report bugs, if any and once fixed, run the failed tests again to re-verify the fixes

Try Manual Testing on Real Devices for Free

Manual testing can never be avoided entirely as it is a continuous process that requires human verification at regular intervals throughout the software development lifecycle. As a result, it’s essential for teams to find the right balance between manual and automated tests.

Although the agile approach towards software development is continuously demanding a shift towards test automation, manual testing will always be essential. In fact, manual testing is a good way to assess aesthetic aspects relevant to end-users such as how well the web elements render, how easy it is to navigate through an application, and so on.

Identifying the right platform that provides a mix of both manual and automation services can help QAs run the necessary tests at a moment’s notice. BrowserStack does exactly that by offering 2000+ real devices and browsers for manual and automated testing on the cloud. Simply sign up, select device-browser-OS combination and start testing for free.

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