Software testing trends for 2023: exploratory testing or a return to the past?

Posted: 2023-01-12
Written by: Michał Zaczyński

As we head into the new year, it’s a good time to review what’s happened in the software testing field in the past and anticipate trends for the future. In keeping with this tradition, here are a few words about my observations, particularly about one.


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New-old trend

Trends have been discussed continuously over the past two to three years. These discussions have mostly focused on the emergence of a more comprehensive DevOps definition that contributes to the Shift Right Testing approach, as well as the automation of everything possible and, of course, the replacement of testing (and therefore testers) by artificial intelligence (AI).

The development of these issues deserves its own article. Today, I would like to bring your attention to a somewhat forgotten, somewhat dusty topic that could be a turning point for trends in 2023.

We are talking about exploratory testing’s comeback. The same tests that some people shirk admitting are often much disliked and sometimes cause shock or disbelief (especially in heated discussions among specialists). This year, however, exploratory testing is once again at the forefront, its undoubted advantages being rediscovered at testing conferences. There is no reason to be ashamed of them. Quite the contrary!

It is worthwhile to recall what exploratory testing is before I discuss its pros and cons (per its definition in the ISTQB1 dictionary):

An approach to testing in which testers dynamically design and execute tests based on their knowledge, exploration of the test subject, and results of previous tests2.

Why do we need testing (2)


Exploratory testing: pros and cons

Is exploratory testing a cure-all? Certainly not, although it cannot be denied that they can make a big difference to project success.

Key benefits of exploratory testing:

  • TIME – Give very rapid initial feedback on the quality of the application, thereby suggesting what we should do with it next.
  • AVAILABILITY – Their design and execution require sound domain knowledge and solid experience, but they do not need, for instance, the ability to design formal test cases.
  • DOCUMENTATION – Have minimal documentation (however, it is worth writing down right away that exploratory tests are also documented, and yes, this is necessary!).
  • FLEXIBILITY – Are very flexible and practically always reveal defects undetected by executing traditional test cases (whether manually or automatically).
  • PRICE – Thanks to the above points, they are simply… cheaper than traditional approaches .

Exploratory application testing, of course, also has its drawbacks, for instance:

  • Human factor dependency – the quality of exploratory testing depends solely on the tester performing it.
  • Difficult to reproduce – defects detected by testing are sometimes difficult to reproduce.
  • Neglecting the documentation – they are often poorly described or not documented at all.

It is worth noting; however, that exploratory testing, especially when combined with traditionally-designed tests, is a powerful weapon in the hands of an experienced tester. This is because defects will already be nearly impossible to hide.

Our testing methods are selected on an individual basis, depending on the project’s specific requirements. Some projects might be best suited to exploratory testing, while others might be better suited to classic methods. We never follow a formula here; each project is handled individually. Based on a detailed assessment of the project’s scope, we determine how to approach testing.

We recently tested a system (backend + mobile app) for one of our clients using only exploratory methods. It took under a month for us to complete the order, delivering a comprehensive report with a large number of defects. This only confirms the benefits of this type of testing. An imperative issue in the implementation of exploratory testing is that such a method is useful when it is carried out by an experienced tester. For me, 2023 signals the return of exploratory testing to a permanent position, and I hope it will last.

If you are looking for a technology partner to test your software, get in touch with us! We have successfully completed many projects that required choosing the right type of tests, selecting the right tools, or creating them from scratch. We will be happy to tell you how to do it. Set up a free consultation!

1 –
2 – My own definition
Written by: Michał Zaczyński,
Test Automation Domain Expert

Test Automation Domain Expert who has been with Solwit for over ten years. He’s a flesh and blood tester – his experience includes Quality Assurance activities, work with IEEE/ISO standards, and supervision of test projects. In his view, a competent specialist combines practical experience with theoretical understanding, seasoned with a dash of “that something” one must possess.

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