What is Exploratory Testing? How can this software testing method drive growth and help you discover more bugs? Find out in this ultimate guide.
As the name suggests, exploratory testing is about testers exploring an application to identify and document potential bugs. Testers embark on a process of investigation and discovery in order to effectively test a product. In exploratory testing, testers have the freedom to run tests how and when they decide. This means there is a simultaneous process of test design and test execution.
Best practice exploratory testing answers the following questions:
These four questions are answered by a process of learning, designing, and execution.
Best practice exploratory testing has three main components:
Testers need a comprehensive understanding of the app or website they are testing, in order to test it effectively. By understanding valuable information like industry awareness, company details, and competitive benchmark data, the tester will have the context needed to execute tests successfully. Learning, therefore, is central to the exploratory testing process.
A big difference between exploratory testing and scripted testing is in design. In scripted testing, the test has specific parameters or rules, whereas exploratory testing has no preset path or predetermined conditions. Exploratory testers are able to conduct tests in a way which they deem fit. As a result, tests are designed frequently, and freely, meaning designing is a key skill for an exploratory tester. Therefore, you need to ensure you have professional testers with a varied skill set, who can design effective test cases.
Seamless test execution is also an extremely important best practice. In exploratory testing, the tester has the freedom to execute a test as soon as he or she would like to do so. As soon as the test is written, it can be conducted. This freedom means that nobody is waiting on scripted requirements and work can be conducted relatively seamlessly.
Let’s imagine you want to test a mobile gaming app. If you decided to use exploratory testing, testers from around the world would be given very general scenarios to test. For example, in a gaming app, the user might expect to use tokens or in-game inventory items before a battle. The exploratory testing for this may require a tester to ensure that this functionality works and the player can complete the battle as expected.
Exploratory Testing, in this case, involves simultaneous test design and test execution, as testers explore the game and the different in-game scenarios that may occur. Although there is a structure to the testing process, with testers planning the general scenarios they need to test, there is an inherent freedom in how and when the testers navigate the app.
These kinds of tests can’t really be executed via automation. While a script could ensure that tokens or inventory items are purchasable, it can’t emulate a human doing battle! This is the inherent human aspect of exploratory testing. Due to the fact that some tests can’t be predetermined (like a battle in a game), the human creativity required for exploratory testing is a key factor in its success.
Unlike traditional, scripted testing, exploratory does not restrict testers to a predefined set of instructions. Test cases are not written in advance, so the tester can learn and iterate throughout the process. This makes exploratory testing unique, and extremely valuable, as testers can use their individual creativity to discover bugs that the software developer may not have ever expected.
Working in agile involves adaptive planning and continuous improvement. The aim is to be able to respond to change quickly and efficiently. This means that exploratory testing can work extremely well with agile teams. Increased demand for frequent software updates has meant that there is a need for faster software development and continuous delivery. Testing methods need to respond to change quickly and seamlessly. Enter exploratory testing, where the continuous process means bugs can be found faster and releases can happen more frequently.
We have discussed what exploratory testing is, what the advantages and disadvantages of the technique are, and how it can be used in agile, but how do you know when you should actually implement exploratory testing? Here are the top 5 scenarios where exploratory testing can be a huge benefit to your testing strategy.
Exploratory testing is a creative and diverse testing method. Using this technique can help you find more bugs and achieve fast results because testers are given the freedom to write and execute test cases seamlessly.