Why I Use Exploratory Testing While Checking Software. A Tester Confession

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Bug Reporting, Manual testing, Tips & Tricks, Website Testing

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When you are a new tester in a QA company (yeah, like me), you may encounter several challenges in the first few working days. You need to learn the company’s rules, go through the onboarding process, and meet with colleagues. It’s not easy, you know. However, as soon as you learn it, the most difficult is yet to come. You may have your first project — a huge CRM with thousands of dependencies, modules, and components that you need to test quickly, but qualitatively. It’s fine if it has accurate documentation or mockups, but if not — it’s time to use exploratory testing.

In few words, this is a way to test software without any strict plan or previously developed strategy. You use your intuition, experience, and knowledge. Software testing goes step-by-step. Looks like you’re exploring new lands, or you’re a curious traveler in a new place.

First, you study the product you are working on; its logic, business goals, and user expectations. Then you begin to understand the dependencies of the modules in the system and user view regarding the functionality of the product. And finally, you put everything together and explore the entire system with its smallest features, etc. Well, this is how I met the exploratory tests in practice.

I’m used to getting complete product documentation before testing any software. There are some documented items, and they should be fully checked. Any actions should be planned earlier. Now I understand that sometimes there is not enough documentation. So you need to examine the software yourself. And finally, it could bring great results.

How The Process Goes

In most cases, I use exploratory “test tours”, which James A. Whittaker described in his book about this testing type.

When embarking on a new project, I imagine myself as a traveler who discovers new lands and has to study it in a short time. Thus, I have to go through “test trips” and check the software according to their specific criteria. There are basic “test tours” that I most often use when testing software.

  • Tours of the Business District: I study the basic ideas of the software, its business goals, etc. All that reflect its value to the business;
  • The Intellectual Tour: I study the logic of the product and its behavior in a different condition;
  • The Supermodel Tour: I’m trying to understand what impression the product makes on users. After that, I’ll check its visual appearance.
  • The Rained-Out Tour: I check the behavior of the product in an unusual situation. How it works in critical test scripts.

There are more “test tours”, however, they work most efficiently. This helps me to better understand the product and, as a result, to use other types of testing more effectively.

Conclusion

During my career, I have tested a lot of software. Almost all of them have passed the stage of exploratory testing. At the beginning of testing and at the end. In both cases, the exploratory testing increases value of the software.

  • First, when you meet your new project, you can explore the product from a new perspective; its functionality, design, interface. You can study the product from the point of view of the average user.
  • For the second time, when the project comes to the end, you may find errors that were missed during the testing phase.

Exploratory testing is a useful approach that helps me test software thoroughly. I use this testing type for each project, where I adopt advice of more skilled QAs and my own experience from previous projects. So, every time the process becomes more efficient and fruitful. For our clients, this also provides great benefits, as they can take a look at their software from a new perspective, and then make it even better.

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