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What is Exploratory Testing: The Benefits and How to Do More

Anna Thorsen

Anna Thorsen

What’s exploratory testing, and how can you do more of it? Exploratory testing is often the unsung hero in software testing. But testers can so easily get mired down by a huge load of manual tests and test automation maintenance that it’s left behind, or forgotten about.

So what can you do to make room for exploratory testing? We’ll cover that and more. From what exploratory testing is, why it’s important, and how you can make room for more.

Table of contents:

What is exploratory testing?

Why is exploratory testing important?

How can you do more exploratory testing?

What is exploratory testing?

While tests usually have pre-determined results. Exploratory tests don’t have pre-determined results. They find bugs that weren’t considered in advance.

While scripted tests (not to be confused by script-based automation) are structured and sequenced, experimental tests are unstructured. It requires less preparation and documentation which makes room for creativity.

By nature, it’s up to the tester or QA engineer carrying out the exploration to test their own path. There are no expectations of the results. Some might be predictable, others might not be. And if a bug is found, or an issue is identified with a scripted test, it’s reported back to the stakeholders involved in improving the feature bug or test issue.

It’s an excellent way for testers to find previously un-discovered bugs, and improve their test design and the way they execute their tests (whether they’re automated or manually carried out).

Why is exploratory testing important?

Exploratory testing is important because it‘s about investigating the system, finding areas of improvement in the test design, or in the system's design.

This benefits the quality of the system under test and the test cases that you build.

It’s also beneficial to the team.Because it leaves room for creative thinking, it’s more intellectually stimulating than repetitive tests like regression testing (these should really be automated where possible).

How can you do more exploratory testing?

Often, testers are held up in the earlier stages of functional testing (such as system testing and user acceptance testing) that there isn’t time for exploratory testing.

Related reading: 5 Types of Functional Testing

The long testing times can be caused by a number of reasons:

  • Testing is only done manually
  • Testers are reliant on developers to build automated tests
  • The test automation software that’s been adopted is inefficient

So how can you do more? Just because some test automation software is dependent on developers, and others are inefficient, it doesn’t mean that all of them are.

It’s about finding a test automation solution that:

  • doesn’t make you dependent on developers or automation engineers
  • limits the amount of test maintenance you need to carry out
  • requires short onboarding and non-technical skills to onboard
  • keeps build times short (e.g. using smart recorders or a visual language rather than code-based approaches)
  • scales easily by utilizing reusable components and data-driven capabilities
  • works across the applications in your enterprise landscape

And while your unique environment will have additional unique requirements, those listed above are the base-line of where to begin your search.

By finding an automation tool that eases your workload, rather than creating more work, you can save more room for exploratory testing.

To learn more about exploratory testing functional tests, check out our in-depth whitepaper on Functional UI Testing. We explain why you should automate your functional UI tests using visual test automation software to manage your resources more efficiently and allow testers to take back full ownership of the testing process.


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