Time, cost, and quality. These three elemental forces of software development influence every aspect of our QA process. They are the practical realities that, ultimately, determine how we prepare a web application to meet the expectations and needs of our users.
Each point on a web application testing checklist has to be assessed in reference to the timelines of our release cycle, the constraints of our budget, and the rigorous nature of the testing needed to ensure a robust and satisfying final product.
These pressures force us to strike a balance between the speed and repeatability of automation testing and the qualitative human element of manual testing. In some instances, there is no real dilemma: Automation excels at the smoke and regression tests that pave the way for initial and continued quality assurance, and manual testers do a better job of anticipating the user experience.
For most steps along the web application testing checklist, though, we must establish a balance.
Keep Your Web Application Testing Checklist in Hand
Consider the various types of testing that make up a comprehensive web application QA checklist:
- Functional testing
- Non-functional testing
- UI testing
- Compatibility testing
- Performance and security testing
To efficiently execute all of these tests within the pressures of time, cost, and quality, you need to understand where and when to choose between automation and manual testing or to use elements of each. You face these choices right from the start of your QA planning.
Create a Test Plan
The stages of our web application testing checklist are where the test execution takes place. The initial balancing act happens in advance of any test case.
The most efficient way to maximize the QA process is to develop a clear test plan. This establishes the goals, protocols, priorities, and methodology that will govern the entire project. It is also crucial to establishing a strong, Agile working relationship between internal staff and the expert QA team.
This plan should cover:
- The foundational business requirements and product expectations
- The approval process for both internal and outsourced teams
- Protocol for change requests
- The platform and necessary configurations and devices
- The communication and query process
- The availability of resources, including engineers and budget
- Start and end dates of scheduled QA activities
- Non-functional testing requirements
- Test priority, data requirements, and the number of test cases
- Entry and exit criteria
- The release and production support processes
This is also the point at which you must decide, at each phase of the QA process, whether to implement automation, manual testing, or a mix of both. Before you can make those decisions, you need to understand the potential of both approaches across each step of the web application testing checklist.
Functional testing is an essential component of any test suite and ensures the user’s needs will be met upon delivery. Functionality includes several different tests, many of which can be performed with either manual or automated testing.
As a guide, the following tend to be automated:
- Regression testing
- Smoke and sanity testing
- Static and repetitive tests
- Data-driven testing
- Load testing (refer to Performance and Security Testing below)
While manual testing is usually applied to tests involving:
- Subjective validation
- New or changing functionality
- Complex functionality where domain and product knowledge are essential
The non-functional aspects of your product are more quantitative than the subjective results of functional testing. These tests are better suited to automation testing, which can quickly assess the defined measurables that support a web application’s usability and reliability. This phase covers elements of compatibility, load, stress, and security testing.
User interface testing is one of the last strongholds of manual testing. As a rule, humans do a better job of simulating the user experience than computers do. The process can be resource intensive and slow, however, and there are several UI automation testing tools available to help streamline the process.
This is a prime example of how the fundamental forces of time, cost, and quality shape our QA testing. And it is a great demonstration of why you need an experienced QA expert to help guide your web application testing phase.
One of the true pain points of web application testing is the need to test the product across various browsers, operating systems, and hardware. Simply put, different browsers provide different results. Compatibility tests can be performed either manually or with automation, but they are commonly analyzed by human engineers as compatibility is closely tied to a user’s experience of the application across platforms.
Performance and Security Testing
Performance and security testing go hand-in-hand. Both are designed to test how your web application will perform under simulated real-world events, such as peak load times and DDoS attacks. Automated testing is often favored, however, the domain expertise of human engineers can better simulate up-to-the-moment security concerns.
For more detailed information, consult our free performance testing checklist. This 10-point presentation describes how to maximize your web, application, and server conditions to improve the speed, scalability, and stability of your product.
There is not, however, a set of golden rules to provide an answer to every automation versus manual testing challenge. Your QA expert can assist your decision making, but in the end, we are all bound by the time, cost, and quality constraints of our projects.
Balancing Automation and Manual Web Application Testing
The distinct benefits of automation and manual testing become clearer once you apply the constraints of time, cost, and quality. Sometimes there is just no time within a release cycle to realize the full advantages of manual testing. Sometimes automation alternatives for simulating a real-world environment just do not meet the product quality requirements.
The key to maximizing the potential of both approaches is to understand each step of the web application testing checklist we presented above. In each case, your decision between manual and automation should be guided by the three foundational elements of software development:
- How much time do we have?
- How much will this cost?
- How can we produce the best possible product?
QASource has a dedicated team of more than 700 engineers who can help you make the right choice between automation and manual testing in a web application environment. We understand that to achieve the best possible QA results, you need a balance of the two approaches, and we know how and when to apply each. Contact us today for a free quote: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1.925.271.5555 to get started.