The Pros and Cons of Manual Testing

Published on
March 16, 2023
Tessa McDaniel
Marketing Team Lead

Manual tests have been run since software was first created, but manual testing has both its upsides and downsides.

In software testing or even eCommerce where businesses rely on a functioning application for revenue, testing is essential to ensure that your product doesn't undergo any unforeseen outages or problems. A broken site or program can cause a loss of revenue and an even bigger headache, so it's super important that you protect your app to the best of your abilities. So, you need to know what kinds of tools are in your toolbox!

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is the process of testing the front end of your application to ensure that everything is meeting a set list of requirements, and it's all done manually. Everything and its mother gets checked, from clicking links to filling out forms to verifying outputs. And even though this can take time, manual testing has its advantages, especially with its different types.

Types of Manual Testing

There are four main types of manual testing that can only be performed manually, and it's important to know what can be achieved with automated testing and what can't. 

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is done with the intention of breaking your application to root out the toughest bugs to find. There's no structure, no plan, no requirements to fill - just getting in there and seeing if you can worm your way between the cracks. That being said, it is important to document the testing that takes place in order to reproduce any bugs that do come up. This type of testing is all about the creativity and intuition of the tester while figuring out how best to test the app. Typically, the tester is intimately familiar with the way the app works, giving them the best chance to unearth a bug.

Ad-Hoc Testing

Ad-hoc testing is very similar to exploratory testing with the main difference being the level of knowledge of the tester. There's no structure or documentation, just the tester looking around at all the crevices, which also makes it harder to reproduce any discovered bugs. However, they're less likely to find more intricate bugs, instead focusing on ones that are more surface-level.

Usability Testing

Usability testing tests how easy a product is to use, how intuitive it is to navigate, and what the user experience will look like. This kind of testing is important throughout the development process. If your development team has to go back to the drawing board, better that it's done a few weeks into the project rather than months later. 

User Acceptance Testing

User acceptance testing (UAT) is done not by testers, but by real end users, and should happen right before release. These end users will ensure that your app is working according to user scenarios, as journeys might not look the same to a tester as a first-time user.

The Advantages

Now, all of the above tests mentioned can't be done by automated testing, which is an inherent advantage of manual testing. Another one is the ease of hiring. Manual testing doesn't require knowledge of programming languages or software engineering experience like automated testing, just a logical thought process and an eye for detail. Manual testers will also produce the best user feedback since when you tell a machine how to complete a user journey, it doesn't care how intuitive it is. However, this invaluable human element also brings in human error. 

The Disadvantages 

Unfortunately, people aren't perfect. While bugs in the product can be harder to miss, things like small visual regressions can slip past even the most detail-oriented of QA testers. Tests also take an incredible amount of time to run, and a lot of them can be similar to each other. The more tests required, the longer it will take to run them all, meaning testing can become a bottleneck in the Software Development Lifecycle and sometimes prompt the reduction or elimination of testing altogether. And once a tester is done running their list of tests, oftentimes it takes so much time that they have to immediately start over, especially if an organization does small but frequent releases. 

So, What's the Answer?

Well, we think that the best solution is a mix of manual and automated testing! As mentioned before, running manual tests can take up a lot of valuable time, so a codeless test automation tool can save hundreds of hours (and we've done a comparison between automated and manual testing if you'd like to check that out). Simply author once in plain English and tests are ready to be run as often as you schedule them. Even tests like Virtuoso's that are run from a user perspective with the use of AI can't replace the intuition of a great QA tester, so while our automation tool takes care of the repetitive tasks in the testing process, you can focus on tasks like exploratory testing and usability testing. Our codeless testing also doesn't require rocket science (or coding knowledge), so anyone can author a wide variety of automated tests like visual regression tests, functional testing, and more! Give our two-week free trial a spin to see how you can free up your time to focus on the fun parts of testing while leaving the repetitive tasks to the bots.


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