Exploratory Testing Advantages & Techniques

June 25, 2021
Amy Patt
Amy Patt

The goal of exploratory testing is the discovery of bugs or glitches in an unscripted way.
We’ve compiled some unique advantages to this form of testing, as well as techniques for how to get the most from your exploratory testing journey.

Advantages of Exploratory Testing

This testing approach evolves as a tester becomes more confident with exploring scenarios and functions in the device or platform that they’re using, making it great for identifying platform-based problems. There are other notable advantages to exploratory testing, such as:

  • Less Preparation Required: This testing methodology doesn’t require as much documentation as other types, so the tester is able to dive in with less preparation. For instance, all that’s needed for exploratory testing is a test charter (an outline of the goal for the testing), and that can easily be created, as opposed to pulling together multiple test cases and features for other forms of testing.

  • Real-Time Learning: The most skilled testers can apply personal experience and knowledge to learn about system behavior while simultaneously conducting tests. This allows them to design, execute, and adjust testing scenarios in real-time.

  • Better Collaboration: Because these testers don’t need to adhere to the traditional test-case approach, they can focus on critical areas and problems as they arise, instead. This can help developers by adding insightful feedback on the quality of the product, or areas they’ve flagged as possible problems.

  • Critical Bug Discovery: Scripted tests can be somewhat limited by confirmation bias because the developers design cases based on what problems they think might occur, or on hypothetical bugs. Exploratory testers think outside these preconceived notions, allowing them to explore the program or system and discover defects that other testers might’ve missed.

Techniques for Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing serves as way to support quality assurance and ensure the product released is the best possible version. This is accomplished by empowering the testers to break out of the testing lab bubble and openly explore.

With the removal of the controlled testing environment, exploratory testers can focus on making sure the apps, software, or websites work, in the same way real users would interact with them.

Confirming an app or software functions correctly in a controlled environment, like a corporate office, doesn’t mean it will work outside of those conditions. Real users might be using the product on the road, at home, in areas with poor Internet connectivity, on a mobile or IoT device and so on.  

The best exploratory testing techniques focus on identifying:

  1. Product purpose: What is the fundamental purpose of the product; what is it supposed to do?

  2. Primary functions: What are the main functions the product performs?

  3. Potential Instabilities: Which functions are likely to crash, be unreliable, or violate stability standards?

Once those questions have been posed and answered, then the testing for each function and use case can begin, and any problems that arise are recorded. The goal is to deep dive into the product or software, rather than extensively examining every pathway until a bug is detected.

A proficient exploratory tester will find the bugs that other testers have missed. These testers focus their efforts on understanding how users might break the system, crash, or disrupt the functionality through normal actions.  

When exploratory testing methods are deployed in tandem with other testing, it allows the different techniques to complement each other, and the quality of the testing results markedly improves. This translates to better quality products, improved user experience, and happy customers. Interested in learning more about how exploratory testing will benefit your QA? Get a demo.

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