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The Pros & Cons of Manual Testing

Amy Patt

In the wide world of software development, the testing process is invaluable. Of course, there are many different methods of testing that can be employed, depending on the desired outcome.

Manual testing is one avenue development teams can explore to ensure software or an application is error-free and functioning correctly.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is exactly as the name suggests—the test cases are conducted by the software developers or quality assurance (QA) specialists without the use of  automated tools. It is one of the more basic forms of testing, and even someone with a basic understanding of the application or system could perform it.

The purpose of manual testing is twofold; to verify that the software or application meets the predefined requirements and to identify any bugs or problems in the system.

Depending on how the test is carried out, there are different types of manual testing that can be executed, such as:

  • System testing
  • Integration testing
  • Acceptance testing
  • Unit testing
  • Black box testing
  • White box testing

The type of manual testing used is usually determined by when the test is performed within the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Pros of Manual Testing

This form of testing is incredibly useful in finding issues that would impact the user experience (UX) of an application, especially in regard to visual components like text and layout. It has a low operational cost to implement since additional tools are not used, and advanced knowledge and skills are not necessary.

Manual testing is a more intuitive approach (as opposed to a strictly logical, automated test) and is more likely to catch problems that would impact end users. Plus, since these tests are carried out by people and not machines, there’s more flexibility involved and that can translate to a more agile development cycle.

Cons of Manual Testing

Manual testing is not without shortcomings. In general, it tends to be time-consuming and an inherently slower process than other forms of testing, especially with higher test volumes. This is something to consider with the prevalence of agile methodologies and tighter deadlines on test cycle deliverables.

While a human touch is necessary in all testing, the manual approach tends to be more prone to human error. As a result, these test results can be less reliable. For this reason, automated testing will often be deployed in tandem.

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