Which Types of Software Testing Will Your Product Need?

Timothy Joseph Timothy Joseph | February 5, 2019

Which Types of Software Testing Will Your Product Need?

There is no one-size-fits-all type of software testing that will solve your QA challenges with a single implementation. 

Most products will require three to five different types of software testing to reach the highest standards. Thankfully, the overall process is not a tangled mess of test cases. Rather, with the right approach, each type of software testing fits together in both chronological order and as part of a full test cycle: Each is necessary. Each complements the other. And each has a place within your QA process.

The Dominant Types of Software Testing

The three most powerful forms of software testing are:

  • Manual testing: Requires a human tester to emulate the role of the end user

  • Automation testing: A scripted version of manual testing that operates with greater speed and volume

  • API testing: Tests the functionality and reliability of programming interfaces

These tests carry the bulk of your QA load. Most applications will also require two additional layers of testing: 

  • Security testing: Exposes security design flaws within an application

  • Performance testing: Assesses the responsiveness, scalability, throughput and stability of an application

Today we are going to outline why each type of software testing should be used, when it should be employed and how each fits alongside the other within your product cycle.

We’ll begin with manual testing—the most labor-intensive kind.

Manual Testing

Manual testing has become an unnecessarily-maligned form of software testing. As the name suggests, it is the slowest element of the QA process. However, it has the distinct advantage of deploying the human brain to achieve a level of thoroughness and user empathy an automated system cannot match.

Why You Should Use It

There has not been an automated type of software testing created yet that can match the ingenuity, intuition, demands and domain understanding of a human tester. It follows that manual testing should take precedence whenever the end-user experience needs to be simulated. Total automation is not possible, so it is important to cover non-automated areas through manual testing.

Manual testing is best equipped to handle:

  • Installation

  • Security

  • Usability

  • User acceptance

  • User interface

At its simplest, manual testing is a method of prioritizing quality over quantity.

When You Should Use It

We listed some of the key QA process stages best suited to manual testing above, but this type of software testing is most often deployed to detect bugs during the initial stages of an application under development. Manual testing is important for areas which cannot be automated, or when test cases have be to run only once or twice; for any further repetition automation testing is preferable.

Manual testing is usually reintroduced into the QA process as a complement to automation testing.

Automation Testing

The promise of automation testing is that it saves time and resources and improves test coverage. It can reduce your testing time from days to hours—and that equates to faster releases. You also get increased scope and depth within testing from a method that is repeatable, reliable, and reusable. Automation testing is very helpful in covering complex scenarios with a high probability to be missed during repetitive manual testing. It saves time and effort when testing multiple browsers, platforms, and environments.

Why You Should Use It

Automation testing thrives at high volume. It is great at repeatable tests, and so is often used in regression, static, and repetitive tests; smoke or sanity testing; and data-driven testing. The tools to run test automation and test maintenance can be expensive, but the speed and efficiency of the process ultimately generates a higher ROI.

When You Should Use It

Automation testing is usually applied once the core application components are in place. It runs more efficiently with a low-change environment. Automation is often applied in combination with manual testing during the latter stages of the QA process.

API Testing

API testing is essential to ensuring an application can successfully interact with another and reliably pass data back and forth. It is employed to improve the coverage of a test cycle, conserve resources, and produce faster, more efficient releases. The video below provides a brief introduction to getting started with API testing using an API documentation tool. It details how you can test the core functionality of an application with drag-and-drop simplicity.



API testing basically lets you test the core of your product while it is still under development.

Why You Should Use It

API testing allows the QA and development teams to access and test the core of an application without a user interface. This means teams can evaluate the overall build strength before running GUI tests and fix small bugs before they become larger problems at that near-end stage.

When You Should Use It

API testing is usually performed before the initial phases of manual and automated testing. This timing, however, will depend on the specific product application. API testing is one of the first QA testing phases. It helps ensure your product is safe, secure, and stable from the start. It also keeps your integration points leak-proof at the initial stage of your product development lifecycle.

Security and Performance Testing

Security and performance testing fulfill similar roles in determining how your application will stand up under certain conditions and threats. They act as the final insurance that your product is ready for real-world use.

Why You Should Use It

Security testing uncovers all the vulnerabilities and potential risks associated with your customer’s protected information. Data is vulnerable both in transit and in storage, and security testing provides an analysis of your current security solution, your encryption technique, and your policy-based data management. It is a search for the holes and vulnerabilities in your system.

Performance testing is about ensuring your customers have a positive experience with your product. The results it produces will generally serve as a baseline for each subsequent release. Performance tests usually run through:

  • Soak

  • Load

  • Stress

  • Spike

  • Configuration

  • Isolation

Security and performance testing are designed to ensure the safety and the satisfaction of the end-user.

When You Should Use It

Both security and performance testing are run periodically throughout the product cycle. It is common to perform the tests quarterly, although monthly tests are not uncommon. Security and performance testings are performed alongside manual, automated, and API testing. Performance and security testing teams are usually separate. During development every new build may be checked for effects on performance and security. That lets necessary action be taken for any abnormal behavior at the time, instead of the end development.

Agile: All of the Above

The Agile methodology is perhaps the most common testing methodology today. In this method, different types of testing are performed at the same time. Manual testing, GUI automation, API testing/automation, security, and performance testing all take place in parallel. Most testers use different specialized testing teams. Each day of the sprint, every member presents the Done/Not-Done/Blocked/Deferred items (with reasons) to the scrum master or product managers to help track the progress of the sprint/release.

Effective configuration of testing types is easier with the right QA partner to guide your progress, and to maximize the capabilities of each type of software testing.

QASource has expertise and experience in each of these types of software testing to provide you with a comprehensive QA process. Our QA experts are available to guide you through your testing choices. Contact us today for a free quote: Email info@qasource.com or call +1.925.271.5555 to get started.


This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be considered legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out of this information and encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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