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Why test automation cannot live without manual testing

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

3. Exploratory testing requires a human to explore

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

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

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