Manual testing is one of the basic activities related to software development and is the base in building software quality.

It is a process whereby QA testers operate and test a software application manually to trace out defects or deviations from the expected behavior mentioned in the requirements.

This kind of testing is fundamental in the early stages of development, as it lets the team know about the user interface, the overall functionality, and the user experience.

Testing is conducted manually and involves no automated tools; it's purely based on the skills and instincts of a tester. This technique helps testers perform exploratory testing, simulating real-world scenarios and picking up unexpected errors in the process.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual Testing

Definition and overview of manual testing.

Manual testing is the stage in the Software Development Life Cycle wherein execution of test cases takes place without the help of automated tools. This kind of testing is primarily conducted to discover bugs or flaws in an application software.

The manual tester is instrumental in this process, wherein he enforces the written test plans to cover indistinguishably all cases of software use, different environments, and configurations, making sure that the behaviors are matched to the outcome expected.

Not only in running a test that is planned will it be useful, but also in finding unexpected errors or subtlety of software.

Importance of manual testing in the QA process.

Even with increased levels of automation, manual testing still continues to play a huge role in the QA process. It enables a far more granular analysis of the user experience and will organically foster human insight into the usability, design, and general user mechanics of the software under test that automated testing tools might miss.

The manual testing is more relevant during the early stages when the software is evolving. It's adapted for complex test cases requiring human judgment or when the environment in which testing is going to take place is too costly or impractical to automate.

Assuring that the most important features of a product are perfectly tested manually lets QA teams make sure of a level of personalization and care that helps improve the reliability of the final product and overall user satisfaction.

Techniques of Manual Testing

Exploratory testing

Exploratory testing is a flexible, ad hoc technique of manual testing where the testers, upon their findings, dynamically alter their strategies and test cases with every progress in testing.

Hence, the approach does not depend on predefined test cases but relies on the experience, intuition, and creativity of the tester. This is what allows testers to be able to discover defects that traditional scripted testing might miss.

This, therefore, makes exploratory testing very handy for applications that have frequent changes or when the documentation is limited. Critical functionalities are still put under rigorous examination.

Boundary value analysis

BVA or boundary value analysis is a technique which in itself goes for the values at the edges. It involves detecting errors at extreme ends in the spectrum of input domains, such as maximum, minimum, just inside, and just outside the edges.

For example, if an application is designed to accept numbers in the range of 1 through 1000, then a test case designer, by using BVA, would test 0, 1, 2, 999, 1000, and 1001.

This technique helps testers concentrate only on a set of test cases that gives high fault-detection ability with efficient use of resources on areas likely to cause faults.

Equivalence partitioning

Equivalence partitioning or equivalence class partitioning is a method in manual testing where input data is divided into equivalent partitions that can be tested using a single test case.

This technique assumes that all values in one partition behave similarly, so only one scenario needs to be tested. For instance, if an input field accepts all numbers from 1 to 500, these could be segmented into ranges, and tests are devised for each range rather than individual numbers.

Equivalence partitioning reduces the overall number of tests needed and simplifies the testing process by identifying a suitable representative from each partition. This ensures comprehensive coverage and enhances testing efficiency.

Examples of Manual Testing

Examples of Manual Testing

Testing a login page

When testing a login page manually, the main goal is to ensure its functionality, security, and user-friendliness. Testers will typically check various scenarios such as entering valid and invalid username and password combinations to ensure the system correctly handles authentication.

For example, entering a recognized username with the wrong password should trigger an appropriate error message. Other critical tests include verifying if the password visibility toggle works as intended and testing the response when a user attempts to log in multiple times with incorrect credentials.

Additionally, testers might validate elements like password recovery links and the SSL certificate to ensure that the page is secure from data breaches.

Verifying calculations in a financial software

For financial applications, ensuring the accuracy of calculations is paramount. Manual testing in this area involves keying in different input values and verifying if the outputs are accurate according to predefined rules or formulas.

Take, for instance, a loan interest calculation feature. A tester should verify if the interest calculated on various principal amounts at different interest rates aligns with the expected mathematical outcomes.

They might also check the application’s response to edge cases, such as zero or negative values, and observe how the software handles such exceptions.

Validating user input fields

Testing user input fields involves examining the system's handling of the data entered by the user. This includes testing for field length restrictions, accepted characters, and mandatory versus optional fields compliance.

For example, a tester might try to submit a form without filling out mandatory fields to see if the system rightly prevents submission or prompts for the required data. Input fields should be checked for proper sanitization to prevent SQL injection attacks and other security vulnerabilities.

Error messages should be clear and helpful, guiding the user to correct the entered data.

Best Practices in Manual Testing

Clear test objectives

Clear test objectives are crucial for effective manual testing. They provide testers with specific goals and criteria against which they can measure software performance and functionality.

Test objectives should be well-defined, achievable, and aligned with the overall business goals. Ensuring clarity in testing objectives helps in maintaining focus and efficiency throughout the testing process, facilitating a more systematic approach to uncover potential issues.

Comprehensive test aces

Developing comprehensive test cases is essential to cover all possible scenarios that a user might encounter. Test cases should include normal as well as edge cases, including how the application behaves under unusual or extreme conditions.

Each test case should be detailed with step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. It’s important to capture the expected results clearly so testers can easily identify any deviations from expected behavior.

Thorough documentation

Documentation plays a key role in manual testing. It ensures that knowledge about the software's functionality and issues is preserved and is accessible to anyone who needs it.

Good documentation includes detailed descriptions of test cases, the testing environment, and any anomalies found, including screenshots or video captures if applicable.

This comprehensive documentation is vital for reproductions of issues and for future reference during maintenance and enhancement phases of the software lifecycle.

Book a Demo and experience ContextQA testing tool in action with a complimentary, no-obligation session tailored to your business needs.


Manual testing remains a pivotal component in the QA process, necessary for ensuring the functionality, usability, and overall quality of software products.

Despite the increasing reliance on automation, manual testing provides the nuanced, human insight essential for detecting subtle issues that automated tests might overlook.

Organizations should invest in skilled testers and continue to innovate in comprehensive training and methodologies to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of manual testing.

The combination of manual and automated testing strategies leads to a robust framework, capable of tackling complex software landscapes and ensuring a high-quality end user experience directed by thorough QA practices.

Remember, the goal of manual testing is not just to find faults in the software but also to understand the user's perspective, making it indispensable in the development cycle.

Also Read - 15 Different Types of QA Testing You Should Know

We make it easy to get started with the ContextQA tool: Start Free Trial.