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Exploratory Testing: An Unscripted Quest For Bugs


Exploratory testing is a form of quality checking that does not rely on test scripts. A tester is let loose on the system, often with very little introduction, and they are encouraged to report any and all issues they find.

As you’re doing exploratory testing, you attempt to use the system as a user who doesn’t understand where they need to go or where they will end up.This increases the likelihood of encountering issues that a formal test script might not bring to light.

What exploratory testing techniques can you use to uncover issues?

Trying Every Link

Click every link, visit every screen, get a feel for what you’re dealing with. Do all the links lead somewhere? Is a consistent design used throughout? Do you see any obvious error messages as you browse through the system?

Log In, Log Out

A common source of issues can be due to users viewing a page while logged out. When you click the login link, where do you end up? Does the system take you back to where you were? Does the site allow a user to get too far before asking them to sign in – or are they locked out too early in the process?

What differences occur when you view a page while logged out, and if you view the same page when logged in? How clear is it that you’ll see more information when you sign in?

Form Filling

When you fill out a form and you need to change the values you entered, are you shown exactly what you need to correct?

Navigating the Site

How easy is it to find the link you need? Can you find your way back to a page easily if you’ve found it once before?

Find Issues Before the Client Does

Exploratory testing allows you to test a lot of functionality in a relatively short timeframe. You probably won’t hit all scenarios, but you’ll get a good idea of whether the system is ready for more detailed testing. It’s also a good way to find and fix any serious issues before your client finds them. This means you’re much more likely to deliver a polished product.

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