Anyone can draw, but to draw well, you need to hone your skills, focusing on things like shading and perspective. Some of this will take place in art classes. Most of it will be developed from your experience and practice, something which can take years to accumulate.
The same is true with exploratory testing. While anyone can claim to be an exploratory tester, only those with a set of honed skills will produce professional results and find reproducible bugs that will impact your mobile app or website.
Here are the six skills you need to be an exceptional exploratory tester:
1. Lateral thinking
Lateral thinking is when you solve a problem by a creative, indirect approach, and it usually involves seeing the issue in question in a new way that no one else has previously. Essentially, lateral thinking is examining a problem with a creative mindset. This creativity and lateral thinking become crucial to achieving success with exploratory testing. After all, it is impossible to find bugs and other issues without thinking outside of the box.
With lateral thinking skills, you see an app or website in a new light and see the various ways that users will interact with it. By getting creative regarding these interactions, you will discover bugs that would have otherwise been undiscovered.
2. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is a person's ability to think using reasoning in a rational manner. This manner of thought lets you discover a hidden relationship between various variables. As a result, critical thinking also increases the possibility of finding high-risk bugs that conventional thinking would not reveal. Critical thinking gets rid of the biases associated with personal beliefs, leading to a demand that you see valid reasons with an objective perspective.
As you think critically, you will come up with various arguments to justify explanations and codes, which leads to new hypotheses. Those who possess critical thinking skills will always be ready to make actionable suggestions because of their ability to weigh the consequences and risks associated with anything, including the search for bugs.
3. Investigation skills
It should come as no surprise that investigation skills are essential for exploratory testing, as the goal of the process is investigating and finding bugs. During exploratory testing, you can imagine that you are a detective on the scene of a crime, but you do not know what the crime is. You look for clues as to what seems out of place or could cause a problem, and use that information to figure out what crime occurred, or what bug the app or website has.
Investigation skills provide a methodology that exploratory testers can use to discover and reproduce bugs. More importantly, being comfortable with using these investigative capabilities allows you to stray from the set methodology when necessary. With investigation skills, you can set up a plan of attack when searching for bugs and will be familiar with the signs that your chosen method needs adjustments.
4. Storytelling skills
As hard as it may be to imagine at first, exploratory testing requires the ability to tell a story. In this case, it is not a story like those found in books; instead, it is the story of the app or website you test. As you examine it, you will create accounts of various uses for the software and how people will utilise it.
You then turn these stories into reality by following the steps the fictional person in your head would, resulting in either the seamless use or discovering bugs. When you find a bug, this is the climax of the story, leading to the resolution, or the team of developers making adjustments to eliminate the problem.
5. Communication skills
The ability to communicate with other members of the team is essential for any exploratory tester. This ability allows you to coordinate with additional inspectors, determining who will work on a particular aspect of the testing, so you do not overlook any part. Communication is also crucial for telling other testers about the bugs you found, letting you confirm that they are reproducible.
Once you find a bug, the communication skills are once again essential, making it possible to succinctly and accurately describe the issue as well as the steps leading up to it. Developers will need all that information to correct the bug, as well as the ability to ask you questions regarding the issue and receive clear explanations in response.
6. Technical skills
Some types of testing do not require vast technical skills, only a familiarity with the basics since they will not involve more than the user interface. Exploratory tests, on the other hand, may actually look at the full stack, from the user interface to the layers of software underneath. As such, you must have the skills to understand the programs and use general coding. Without that technical knowledge, you will likely overlook bugs that could have serious adverse effects on the software.
In order to deliver high-quality apps or websites for your customers, you need to ensure that your testing and testers find the bugs that impact their usage. Exploratory testing and testers must use these six skills if they are to find the edge cases and issues that contribute to a successful software release.
Exploratory testing is vital for any successful application; finding the right exploratory testers even more so. You can learn some of the skills needed for exploratory testing in a traditional academic setting, but that background alone is not enough without active testing experience. This means that when searching for exploratory testers, you must look for testers with the right skillset.
If you need help with your exploratory testing, talk to us. We are a leading crowdsourced testing company who have helped companies like Spotify, Microsoft and Warner Bros.