Testing - Man versus machine

No websites should ever be static – there are always reasons to make changes. As part of this process, it’s key to test that the website still works as it should. Increasingly, these tests are automated but there are benefits to manual testing too. 

Traditionally, making changes to a website could cause ramifications elsewhere. However, at Lake Solutions we utilise the latest development technologies and practices to minimise collateral impact. That said, carrying out regression testing is good practice. 

Manual testing has its advantages, as an actual person takes the place of a visitor to that website, making the journey as a typical customer might, with all the randomness of a human... 

There are two types of manual testing – positive and negative. Positive tests might be carried out to see if something works as it should, while a negative test throws in an issue which isn’t expected. One example might be to input a date in the future in a date of birth form. Will the website accept the date or highlight it as a mistake?

Manual testing is useful for checking a new change and making sure everything works properly. Each manual test is arguably unique – as no human will act quite the same as another. However, humans can generally only do one thing at a time, while machines are better at multitasking. That said, humans can give a considered opinion on the look and feel of a website and report back on how easy it is to use, plus ideas for improvement.  

An automated test can run multiple tests at the same time. Manual testing can be more time consuming than automated testing and can be more costly. 

If you are looking at doing regression testing, checking a website on an ongoing basis to make sure it’s working OK and you are not necessarily checking a current change, then this takes more and more time each time you do it, so it might be sensible to automate this part of the process. If, for instance, you are checking code on an ongoing basis – then it makes good business sense to put some automated testing in place. 

Automated tests are useful if you want to compare data from one test to the next, as you’ll know that the test will have been the same without any human error. Generally, automated testing is also quicker and you can do it at any time – overnight if that makes sense. It is also good at finding glitches in the early stages of development, which could cost money if not dealt with when they appear.  

There is a cost to automated testing though – so, as many of these things do, it will come down to risk and budget and picking your battles. Everyone wants their website to function to its optimum level but most organisations will have areas of their website which absolutely have to perform all the time – such as a loan calculator. So, it is probably worth focusing ongoing automated testing in those areas; and the earlier automated testing is adopted, the more cost effective it will be.

The key is to focus on techniques to ensure that the website is fit for the purpose it is intended for and resilient to any changes. For most websites, a mixture of both manual testing and automated testing is usually the best solution. 

If you want to find out more, contact us. 

Article Details

Ian Jepp
18 September 2018