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Best Practices in Exploratory Testing

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Best Practices in Exploratory Testing

Often, the most crucial bugs in the system are found by exploratory testers when they play around the software just like an end user in the real world.

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Speed is the biggest requisite for the success of any software product. While releasing new software versions to clients, quick and effective testing feedback is crucial for a successful launch. Undetected bugs can cost the business a lot in terms of reputation and brand value.

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is highly beneficial in finding critical bugs in a short span of time. Unlike documented test cases, exploratory testing does not rely on pre-set test designs or rules. Testers with sound knowledge of the business goals, end users, and technology explore the application. By browsing through and using the application like a real user, testers are more likely to find issues that customers might face. Often, the most crucial bugs in the system are found by testers when they play around the software just like an end user in the real world.

Merits Of Exploratory Testing

The following are the key benefits of exploratory testing.

1. Better Utilization Of Tester Talent

Exploratory testing allows QA teams to explore and investigate the different facets of an app. Testers can demonstrate their personal skills and experience by identifying opportunities for improvements in the software. 

2. No Preparation Required

In exploratory testing, tests are designed and executed at the same time. There is no need to create test cases or scripts for executing the tests.

3. Quick Feedback

As different tasks are executed simultaneously, this form of testing saves time and enables quick feedback to developers for product improvement. 

Challenges in Exploratory Testing

Although exploratory testing has many advantages, it is not suitable for every scenario. It comes with its own challenges in execution. The key challenges are as follows:

  • It is a highly skilled activity that requires access to experienced software testers for planning and execution of the test cycles.
  • It requires careful documentation for reproducing and fixing the bugs found.
  • It is not effective in all scenarios, especially in the case of a large project in which coverage is the focus.

The challenge of getting the best talent in software testing can be met by relying on crowd testing platforms. Skilled crowd testers with expertise in requisite domains can successfully plan and execute exploratory test cycles for clients. Execution of an effective exploratory testing skill requires a good testing strategy.

Best Practises in Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing involves investigation of the software beyond the normal requirements. To get the most out of exploratory test cycles, here are some top tips for exploratory testing:

1. Understand the App and the Business Goals

Although exploratory testing gives complete freedom to testers to test any aspect of the app, it is time-consuming and ineffective to try to cover everything in one shot. Understanding the technology, the business requirements, and the purpose of the app will help you identify key areas that need to be tested. Factor in development goals, the lifespan of the app, any laws that govern the app, and end user expectations arising from using previous versions of the app or similar software products. By understanding the app and focusing on the business goals, QA teams can optimize exploratory test cycles to identify bugs in features that matter the most.    

2. Don’t Script the Tests

The aim of exploratory testing is to find defects that are not detected through other forms of testing by exploring the product. The objective is to find unknown bugs that are missed out on when working with detailed test scripts. Real users don’t have a scripted document while randomly using a feature in the app.

Try new approaches, like a real user to test scenarios that are different from the standard scripted expectations. For this form of investigation, it is more effective to plan the tests and explore various aspects of the app without creating scripts in advance. If you do need a few notes to plan your tests and update the stakeholders, you can use one-liners instead of detailed test cases. These are short test cases in a single line that state the purpose of the test. Plan and list out your ideas, instead of creating scripts for executing the tests.

3. Select the Right Testing Technique That Meets Your Goals           

Choose a testing technique that makes it easy for the tester to execute the tests and the stakeholders to interpret the results. Factor in the availability of time, testing tools, and resources for execution of the test cycles.

4. Empower Developers in Fixing Issues

A short feedback loop during the exploratory test cycles will empower developers with the quick feedback they need to fix bugs. A collaborative environment that enables testers to work closely with developers will help in sharing test results and information faster. This, in turn, helps the development team fix issues and improve product quality easily.

5. Document Findings Clearly

It is crucial to document the findings of exploratory testing in a clear and concise manner. This enables developers to reproduce and rectify the bugs found. Note down the purpose of testing, the way the test was executed, and details of the issue. Tracking the purpose and findings of the tests will help in the easy identification of business risks (if any).

6. Use Exploratory Testing Along With Automated Tests

While automated tests are scripted to verify the accuracy of expected behaviors or patterns in the software, exploratory testing helps in finding critical issues, undetected in scripted tests, that could potentially break the software. A testing strategy that encompasses both automated testing and exploratory testing can help in achieving both adequate coverage and also in gaining end-user insights on product quality. If defects are found in exploratory, steps can be added to automate and prevent the issue from occurring again.

7. Make Performance and Non-Functional Testing Exploratory

Performance and non-functionality testing can also be made exploratory. Testers can check if the app is responsive enough on slow devices used by end users. Further, the exploratory method can be used for non-functional tests including for compatibility testing, security testing, usability testing, reliability testing, compliance testing, and localization testing. Checks can be made to ensure that the app is secure, user-friendly, and translatable and that it works well on multiple device and browser configurations.

8. Don't Confuse Exploratory Testing and User Acceptance Testing

Know the differences between user acceptance testing and exploratory testing. While both forms of testing focus on finding bugs, they are distinct. User acceptance tests are high-level tests conducted to verify if specific user requirements are met. You can use exploratory testing in user acceptance testing.

With effective exploratory testing, Product Managers can know what their product is capable of and where it lags behind. Exploratory testing is highly effective for finding critical bugs in a short span of time and is ideal in an Agile environment for releasing high-quality software products.

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