What Is Manual Testing? A Complete Guide to Help You Win Customer Trust & Loyalty.

Arsh Manzer
November 30, 2022
min read
February 22, 2024
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Find out more about what manual testing is, types/stages of manual testing, examples and process.
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Imagine you just bought your dream house in Manhattan, NYC. It's only been a week since your shift and you’re already dealing with water and electricity issues. 

How would that make you feel? 

Frustrated, angry, cheated… maybe all of them. You're likely already cursing the broker who led you to that house, swearing never to contact them again. That's how your users feel when they buy your software or download your app only to find it glitching or filled with bugs. 

Not the kind of impression you would want for your brand, I'm sure. 

So, how do you avoid frustrating your customers? The answer is manual testing.

Initially used to review and use a website from a user's perspective, developers and testers soon began utilizing manual testing to identify software bugs.

With only five percent of companies preferring fully automated testing, it's clear manual testing is still the more effective method for reviewing software. 

This blog is for you if you’ve never performed manual testing — or you’re looking for the best manual testing practices, processes and examples. 

Let’s get started.  

What is manual testing?

Manual testing is the process of testing software manually for bugs or defects without the use of automated tools or programs. A group of software testers uses and reviews the software as if it were for a customer, conducting various tests to ensure it's free of defects and vulnerabilities before releasing it in the market. 

As part of this testing process, a quality assurance (QA) specialist performs a manual examination of the application in order to identify any bugs. Tests are conducted using a written test plan (a unique set of questions). 

Here's an example of a standard manual testing process:

  1. A developer has created a food delivery app. 
  2. After the initial stages of software development, they want to test its functionality and execution. A QA will then review the app for its performance, usability, bugs, and other perils. 
  3. The QA discovers that when they click the pay button, it doesn’t automatically guide them to their bank account for entering the PIN. In that case, the QA will forward this bug to the developer for fixing.

The software isn't just tested keeping the end user in mind, but also for multiple user roles, such as software admins. This is done so that the software is made fault-proof for all its user categories who use the same product differently.

When it comes to ensuring the highest level of security and reliability, it’s crucial to collaborate with the world-class pentest companies, to thoroughly assess their software against potential vulnerabilities which could prove to be fatal if exploited.

What is the goal of manual testing?

Testing a new application manually involves human testers checking its quality without automating it or scripting it. During the testing process, bugs are identified, defects are rectified and operations are checked to ensure they are consistent with the predetermined specifications.

During the software development life cycle (SDLC), software applications — or one of their components or features — are compared with the expected behavior. Test cases or scenarios designed by manual testers are executed one by one before the results are verified. 

Whenever an issue is reported, the development team is notified to fix it and then a second test is conducted.

The fundamental principle of software testing is that no test can be automated completely, making manual testing critical to successful quality assurance.

Why do we need manual testing?

Manual testing serves a variety of purposes, including:

  • Getting a customer's perspective in the early stages of software development. 
  • Understanding workflows and their variations. 
  • Ad-hoc testing.
  • Usability testing.
  • Exploratory testing.

What are the different types of manual testing?

Manual testing is a thorough process. Naturally, there are several types you can use depending on the software being tested. These are as follows:

1. Unit testing

Unit testing verifies the unit parts of the original code, with the individual component being the small testable element of the software. 

The purpose of this stage is to experiment with the performance of the unit components within the software. Testing helps QA identify bugs and functionality issues during the early stages of software development. 

Unit testing involves everything from clicking on a web page or button to verifying to see if it performs the desired function. For example, clicking on the pay button and confirming if it leads them to their payment bank account. 

2. Integration testing

Integration testing is the advanced stage of manual testing. While unit testing verifies a single unit, integration testing involves using numerous units to be tested as a whole. Note that all the units combining the software are integrated and tested together. 

For example, testing the food delivery app in a particular order to understand usability.

This helps QAs understand how all the components function together to provide the required result. When integration testing is performed with software developments, QAs can detect bugs faster. 

3. System testing  

In the system testing stage, the combined components of the software are tested concurrently to check if the system works properly and provides the required results. 

System testing involves various tests like validation output, testing UX and many more. QAs perform several types of testing like regression testing, stress testing and functional testing to conduct this process. 

4. UI testing

User interface or UI testing is conducted to check multiple aspects of a software that the end-user might interact with. Testing UIs or GUIs ensures that the visual elements of the software function as expected.

In this stage, QAs check visual symbols and graphics, including text, fonts, buttons and colors, among other elements, to make sure the UI functions don’t have any bugs. Incorporating advanced UI testing tools can significantly enhance this process, providing more efficient and accurate validation of user interfaces.

As part of UI testing, the software's visuals are tested on different browsers, screens and devices to ensure that people using any browser-device-OS combination can use it easily. The process of cross-browser testing is particularly important to test any web application. 

5. Acceptance testing

Acceptance testing ensures the whole software system together is ready for use by users and is performed both internally and externally. 

Internal acceptance testing or alpha testing is performed by team/organization members to understand how well the software performs its function and delivers the required results. External testing or beta testing involves picking up a group of individuals to try and test the products as the end-user would. 

Acceptance testing is used to identify last-minute issues and evaluate if all the features of the application work, are easy to use and are seen by people. 

6. Black Box testing

Black box testing is performed to test the performance of the software from the user's POV. In this case, the QA has no access to the coding structure, but can only use the inputs and outputs to conduct the test. 

7. White Box testing

This procedure requires QAs to test and evaluate the software in particular. This test is conducted by someone who has prior coding knowledge and knows the internal code used in software creation. 

What’s the difference between manual testing & automation testing?

The following is a tabular break down of the key differences between manual testing and automation testing:

\begin{table}[] \begin{tabular}{lll} \rowcolor[HTML]{CCCCCC} \multicolumn{1}{c}{\cellcolor[HTML]{CCCCCC}\textbf{BASIS}} & \multicolumn{1}{c}{\cellcolor[HTML]{CCCCCC}\textbf{MANUAL TESTING}} & \multicolumn{1}{c}{\cellcolor[HTML]{CCCCCC}\textbf{AUTOMATION TESTING}} \\ Meaning & Manual testing involves a human tester trying and using the software to identify bugs and threats. & Automation testing involves using an automation tool and scripts by human testers to automate testing efforts. \\ Time & It's a time-consuming process where the QA executes tests and creates summary reports. & It helps QAs perform more tests and improve test coverage efficiently. \\ Process & Manual testing is a hands-on process that requires a high level of involvement from the QAs in every stage of testing. & With the use of written test scripts, QAs can reduce their involvement and use automation to validate the software. \\ User-friendliness & It involves checking the user-friendliness of the software. & It can’t give confirmation of user-friendliness. \\ Errors & High chance of errors as this process is performed by humans. & Low chance of errors because testing is done by tools and scripts. \\ Understanding programming language & No need to be proficient in a programming language. & little knowledge of programming is required. \end{tabular} \end{table}

What are the different examples of manual testing?

Here are a few examples/applications of manual testing:

  • Optimizing software for a wide range of devices and browsers.
  • Fast loading pages and images.
  • Links to other pages and/or social media pages.
  • Checking the security of the payments page.
  • Product description and add to cart page.

Despite the variety, the end purpose remains the same: ensuring the end-user doesn't encounter any bug or issue while using the software.  

What does the manual testing process look like? 

To manually test software applications, QAs follow a written test plan describing a set of unique test scenarios. Here's a high-level view of the major phases of successful manual testing.

1. Comprehending the prerequisites

The first step in conducting a manual testing process is knowing the software requirements. 

Understanding how the software needs to work helps the QAs analyze if the software meets its objectives. It acts as a guide directing QAs to test the product, telling them what to do and what parts to check. 

The key is to make the software as bug-free as possible. 

You can also ask your QAs to perform related tasks like:

  • Finding out test prerequisites.
  • Understanding how the manual test is to be conducted.
  • Planning the test.
  • Establishing the environment set-up.
  • Collecting the necessary tools and infrastructure. 

2. Creating the test plan 

Test planning is a crucial step in the manual testing process. 

A test plan document lays down the exact approach and steps needed to reach the goals. It consists of a test plan assessment, finding the core test conditions, finalizing the test items and test cases and setting up the appropriate environment. 

This step is needed to:

  • Figure out the risks and threats associated with the test objectives. 
  • Verify the test environments, people, and so on. 
  • Schedule and list duties related to testing analysis, design, execution and evaluation.

3. Writing test cases

Test cases outline the methods and test data to act as a guide for QAs, helping them follow the instructions with ease. It also prepares them for different scenarios — and tells them how to proceed with testing under each scenario. 

4. Conducting software testing

This is where all the prior groundwork comes into play. It's time to perform the manual test. 

Once the QA has conducted all the predetermined tests, they'll mark your software on the basis of pass, fail or skip. 

Encourage them to make notes while they do this. Maintaining notes during the testing process helps engineers and developers understand the results behind the test and the reason behind failure/success. 

5. Defect logging

This process is executed to double-check the software for any issues or bugs. Defect logging helps teams keep records of past issues as well as create advanced versions of the product while fixing the mistakes. 

6. Defect fix & further-validation

A software developer can mark a bug as 'Fixed' after making crucial code changes and verifying the changes. The bug issues will then get redirected to QA manual testing, after which the person will re-verify and test the modified code to ensure it's working as it should. 

What to do after you’ve identified bugs in manual testing?

If you discover a bug, report it to devs as soon as possible so that they can fix it. Be sure to describe the issue in detail, explain where it appears and be able to reproduce it. 

Reporting bugs is a critical part of software testing. In addition to smoothing out software, it ensures your product is working as expected without frustrating users. Finding and reporting bugs ensures that software is user-friendly, secure and will not cause problems for owners, development teams and, most importantly, users. 

How to make your manual testing effective, powerful & repeatable

The secret to dealing with multiple software creation and product updates is having an effective, powerful and repeatable manual testing process. 

You can do that by:

  • Planning testing activities.
  • Understanding software objectives.
  • Testing information collected and results achieved.
  • Creating test cases. 
  • Setting up good testing environments.
  • Tracking KPIs.
  • Sharing data generated to different team members.
  • Documenting the process for future reference. 

These steps combined with documentation will help you repeat the manual testing procedure without any difficulty. 

How to nail the documentation bit of manual testing? By getting Scribe for free.

Scribe is the easiest way to take manual testing notes and build fast process documentation to track and share bugs and features with your whole team.

All the QA needs to do is turn on the extension, complete the different test cases… and that’s it! The tool will automatically generate a step-by-step visual guide in seconds — complete with annotated screenshots.

Here's a Scribe in action.

QA can also add notes to any part of the guide they want to highlight. What's more, seeing the UI/UX issues visually also provides more context to devs, enabling them to solve the problems more effectively. 


Signing off…

This manual testing post will guide your team to perform effective manual tests that keep your software bug-free and well-functioning.

You can also use tools like Scribe to enhance and streamline testing documentation, as well as collaborate with the entire IT team.

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