Quality assurance (QA) is essential in the constantly changing world of software development because it guarantees the delivery of reliable and error-free solutions.
While traditional testing methodologies have their place, exploratory testing has emerged as a valuable and dynamic approach to uncovering defects and enhancing the overall quality of software.
But what is exploratory testing?
Exploratory testing is a hands-on, adaptive testing technique that relies on the tester’s domain knowledge, intuition, and creativity to discover bugs and issues within a software application.
Unlike scripted testing, exploratory testing emphasizes freedom and flexibility, empowering testers to explore the application in an unstructured manner. This approach allows for more effective bug discovery, even in complex and rapidly changing software environments.
When should you do exploratory testing?
Exploratory testing should be performed when:
Time constraints exist. In scenarios where deadlines are tight, scripted testing alone may not provide sufficient coverage. Exploratory testing helps fill in the gaps and uncover critical defects that traditional approaches may have missed.
Rapid feedback is required. When quick feedback on the software’s functionality is needed, exploratory testing allows testers to delve into the application immediately, providing valuable insights and uncovering potential issues early on.
Exploring unfamiliar areas. Exploratory testing is highly effective when testing new features or functionalities, as it allows testers to interact with the application more naturally and unconstrainedly, mimicking real-world usage scenarios.
User Experience Evaluation: Exploratory testing is useful for evaluating the user experience of a product. Testers can interact with the application as end-users would, exploring different paths, scenarios, and functionalities to uncover any usability issues or areas for improvement.
How to execute exploratory tests:
Now let’s cover the question of how to perform exploratory testing in a simple step-by-step guide:
Classify the Bugs. Turn to the taxonomy of bugs in software testing. Prioritize defects based on severity and potential impact. This classification helps guide testing efforts and ensures critical issues are promptly addressed.
Test Charter. Develop a high-level test charter outlining the goals and objectives of the exploratory testing sessions. This document serves as a guide and helps testers stay focused while exploring the software.
Time Box. Set a time limit for each exploratory testing session to ensure efficiency and prevent testers from spending excessive time on a particular area. Timeboxing encourages focused exploration and helps maximize productivity.
Execute exploratory testing:Start the exploratory testing session by freely exploring the product, interacting with different features, and following different paths.
Review Results. After each exploratory testing session, review and analyze the findings. Document any defects and categorize them based on severity and impact. This step ensures that identified issues are properly recorded and can be addressed in subsequent development cycles.
Debriefing. Conduct a debriefing session with the development team to share insights, observations, and potential improvements. Collaboration and open communication during debriefing sessions foster a culture of continuous improvement and enable cross-functional knowledge sharing.
Strategies for exploratory testing
There are three key strategies for exploratory testing. Let’s explore each one in detail, including their objectives, benefits, limitations, and implementation instructions:
Charter-based testing focuses on creating test charters, which are high-level mission statements or test objectives that guide the testing efforts. Charters provide a specific goal or area of focus for the testing session.
Focus. Testers have a clear objective and direction for their testing, ensuring that important areas are covered.
Flexibility. Employees can exercise their creativity and adapt their approach based on the charter and the system’s behavior.
Collaboration. Test charters can be shared with stakeholders, promoting better communication and alignment of testing goals.
Limited Coverage. There’s a risk of overlooking important areas that are not explicitly covered by the charters.
Time Management. Testers may spend too much time on a single charter, resulting in less coverage overall if not managed effectively.
Define the testing objectives and identify areas of focus.
Create test charters that encapsulate specific objectives or areas to explore.
Assign charters to individual testers or testing teams.
Testers perform exploratory testing while adhering to the guidelines outlined in the charters.
Document findings, defects, and any additional charters that arise during testing.
A charter for an e-commerce website could be “Test the checkout process for different payment options and ensure smooth transaction flow.”
Session-based testing aims to structure exploratory testing into time-boxed sessions. Testers log their activities, findings, and observations during each session.
Structured Approach. Sessions provide a clear framework for organizing and managing exploratory testing activities.
Accountability. Testers are responsible for documenting their testing efforts, ensuring traceability and knowledge sharing.
Progress Tracking. The number and duration of sessions help measure testing progress and evaluate resource allocation.
Interruptions. Sessions can be disrupted by external factors or dependencies, making it challenging to maintain focus.
Overemphasis on Documentation. Testers might focus more on documenting than on actual testing, reducing productivity.
Rigidity. Testers may feel constrained by the fixed session durations, limiting their ability to delve deep into a specific area.
Determine the appropriate session duration (e.g., 1-2 hours) based on the project’s needs and constraints.
Define session goals or themes to guide testers during each session.
Conduct the session by exploring the system, documenting activities, and observations, and identifying issues.
At the end of each session, debrief and discuss findings with the team.
Review session logs, identify any follow-up actions, and plan subsequent sessions accordingly.
A session goal for testing a social media platform could be “Explore the profile settings and privacy options, checking for any inconsistencies or privacy breaches.”
Risk-based testing focuses on identifying and targeting areas of the system that pose the highest risks to the project’s success.
Prioritization. Resources are allocated to areas with the highest potential impact or probability of failure.
Risk Mitigation. Uncovering critical defects early allows for timely remediation, reducing the overall project risks.
Efficiency. Focusing on high-risk areas maximizes the chances of finding significant issues within the available time and resources.
Narrow Focus. Solely focusing on high-risk areas may lead to neglecting other parts of the system that may still contain defects.
Subjectivity. Assessing risks can be subjective and dependent on the tester’s judgment or available information.
Changing Risks. Project risks may evolve over time, requiring ongoing risk assessment and adjustment of testing efforts.
Identify and analyze potential risks by considering factors such as impact, likelihood, and dependencies.
Prioritize risks based on their severity and potential consequences.
Develop test scenarios and charters that target high-risk areas.
Execute exploratory testing activities within these high-risk areas, actively seeking out vulnerabilities.
Monitor and reassess risks throughout the project’s lifecycle, adjusting testing strategies as needed.
In a financial application, a high-risk area could be the handling of sensitive customer data. Testers could focus on exploring different data entry points and security measures, aiming to identify vulnerabilities or unauthorized access possibilities.
In addition to the strategies mentioned above, it’s worth noting that exploratory testing is highly flexible and can be adapted to suit the project’s needs.
Testers can leverage techniques such as pairwise testing, boundary value analysis, or equivalence partitioning within their exploratory testing sessions to enhance coverage and efficiency.
By combining different strategies and techniques, testers can uncover a broader range of defects and gain valuable insights into the system under test.
What is Crowd Testing?
Crowd testing is a form of testing that harnesses the power of a diverse and distributed group of testers to evaluate software applications. In this approach, a large number of individuals from different backgrounds, locations, and devices participate in the testing process.
Crowd-testing platforms facilitate the recruitment, management, and coordination of these testers, ensuring comprehensive testing coverage and reducing the customer’s management overhead to almost zero.
With crowd-testing, applications can be tested on various devices, operating systems, and network configurations, replicating real-world scenarios.
This helps identify compatibility issues and ensures a seamless user experience across various platforms.
Crowd testing provides access to a large pool of testers, allowing for the rapid scaling of testing efforts when time constraints are present.
This flexibility ensures that applications are thoroughly tested within tight project schedules.
By leveraging a crowd of testers on-demand, organizations can reduce infrastructure and resource costs associated with maintaining an in-house testing team. Crowd testing offers a cost-effective alternative without compromising on the quality and thoroughness of testing.
This type of testing enables organizations to access testers from different geographical locations, providing valuable insights into regional variations and localized issues. Thanks to this, the application caters to a diverse user base and adheres to international standards.
Reasons Crowd Testing is Ideal for Exploratory Testing
Crowd testing is ideal for exploratory testing for several reasons:
Firstly, it brings together a diverse group of testers with different perspectives and experiences, enhancing the exploration process and uncovering a wider range of defects.
Secondly, crowd-testing allows for testing on multiple devices, platforms, and configurations simultaneously, ensuring comprehensive coverage in a time-efficient manner.
Thirdly, the collective intelligence of crowd testers, combined with their ability to perform exploratory testing in real-world scenarios, enables rapid bug discovery.
In addition, crowd testing is perfect for user-experience testing and not only bug-defects hunting. Crowd testers have the ability to leverage a diverse pool of real users, from various backgrounds, demographics, and locations to act as real users of the product and provide valuable feedback to the product team.
Finally, crowd-testing provides scalability, cost-effectiveness, and global coverage, making it an ideal choice for organizations looking to optimize their QA processes.
Crowd testing offers speed, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. With a diverse pool of testers and real-world conditions, it ensures optimal app and website performance. Scale your testing efforts rapidly, identify defects early, and save time and money.