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Every day, thousands of new applications make their way into app stores. To ensure these apps are functional and bug-free, a combination of manual and automated testing is essential.

While automation is known for its speed and efficiency, there are multiple scenarios where human engagement is required.

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Four reasons why manual testing is indispensable

1. Usability and UX Testing – a need for human touch

Human touch plays a significant role in measuring how easy and user-friendly a software application is, and whether it meets design expectations. Although automation tools and frameworks have improved significantly in the past few years, they’re no match for human intuition. Humans are more creative when performing visual testing and are free to choose an unscripted, exploratory path for maximum test coverage. Ultimately, if the application is meant for human usage, a human being should interact with it before being released to the broader public.

2. Even automation is prone to errors

Test automation scripts offer a great level of efficiency but they can be subject to unexpected problems – code failure and maintenance has always been a nightmare for developers. False-positive and false-negative results are part of automation and eventually deliver inaccurate test results. In such cases, human input gives the application under test another layer of security and helps ensure its reliable delivery.

3. Exploratory testing requires a human to explore

While automated tests are terrific for unit and regression level testing, they cannot perform any other tasks beyond their automation scenarios. This why manual exploratory testing is essential to any app’s success. Exploratory testing requires skilled human testers who are able to strategically perform quality manual testing, using their intuition, creativity, and experience. Often, this way of testing will uncover a bug where it was least expected. 

Consider this example:
One of Testlio’s online marketplace clients offers a variety of user-friendly functionality for buying, selling, coordinating in-person meetings to complete transactions, and more. Before conducting exploratory tests, Testlio first runs over 1200 regression tests for mobile (Android and iOS) and Web. While the quantity of regression tests covers most end-user scenarios, other unforeseen user behaviors slip through the cracks. To augment regression testing, Testlio creates structured exploratory tests. For example, a major feature, say, posting an item for sale, is assigned to test. The testers then explore the feature and go through the smaller steps necessary to complete the task, including editing the items prior and after posting. Testers have the freedom to explore as deeply as possible and uncover relevant scenarios and opportunities for feature enhancements not covered by the regression tests.

4. Meeting the dynamic demands of an agile environment

Agile methodology is iterative and incremental, meaning that product development works in parallel with product testing. In the context of agile testing, automation plays a vital role in maximizing efficiency and shortening development cycles. Meanwhile, manual testing provides a quick way to execute test cases that are not automated. For example, in heavily loaded sprints, there may not be time to automate all the new features released in the current sprint – in such scenarios, opting for manual testing would be a much wiser and faster choice. Similarly, there is no point in wasting time and effort to automate a test executed only once (e.g., edge cases).

Real-world scenarios that cannot be automated 

Despite evolving technologies and the proliferation of automation tools, there are still many scenarios that cannot or should not be automated – either because of technology limitations, the high complexity involved, or ROI considerations (in terms of efforts and cost involved). 

Here are some examples:

  • Fitness for use: The quality of an app depends not only on whether it meets technical specifications but also on customers’ perception. Does the product meet the needs of its end-users? Will customers want to use it? Answers to these will require human input. 
  • Video Streaming: Video streaming controls are usually flash objects which are not automatable with Selenium WebDriver and various other automation frameworks. Hence, streaming control testing is more feasible with a manual approach. 
  • Mobile gestures: There are many human gestures involved while using a mobile app, like swiping, tapping, pinching, etc. Replicating these gestures and interactions with automation tests is not as accurate as manually testing them. 
  • Usability testing: This method helps identify whether a product is easy to use and requires input that can only be provided by a real person. For this test type, emulating human behavior with automated scripts is thus extremely challenging.

There are many other situations where automation depends on manual. For instance:

  • Bug fixes and patches deployed to the staging environment need to be retested manually as an integration/sanity test before they get released to the production environment.
  • An automation test report with passed/failed test cases that include logs and screenshots is usually given to the manual QA team so they can identify why test cases failed.
  • When recruiting new test automation engineers, the manual QA team is responsible for giving them the product’s KT (knowledge transfer).
  • When there are hundreds of low priority bugs in the backlog, it’s generally up to the manual QA team to review, test, and close these bugs.

Leveraging high-quality manual and automated QA with networked testing

To scale and meet demanding release schedules, organizations often need to supplement their in-house testing resources. If they want their application to have the best chance of success globally, it needs to be tested in the real world, by real people on a multitude of real platforms and devices. For these reasons, a thoughtful networked testing approach that integrates the right mix of automation and manual techniques is essential.

Networked testing combines crowd participants’ diversity with software testing best practices by involving real people worldwide, available on-demand, using real devices, and possessing actual testing expertise. It can effectively serve the dynamic demands of agile methodologies and ensure that critical software issues don’t impact customers and cause revenue loss. Ultimately, manual testing and automation testing are vital to delivering web and mobile app experiences that users will love – and organizations that care about quality will always seek the right combination of both.

The world’s leading mobile and web app developers rely on Testlio’s manual and automation testing best practices to deliver unparalleled app experiences. Contact us for a demo.

Ramit is a technophile, always interested in keeping current with the latest technologies. He works as a Test Automation Engineer and is always up for travel and adventure.