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  • Writer's picturePerfectQA

Is Manual Testing Dead?

Updated: Apr 19

In 1897 fake news spread that legendary American writer Mark Twain had died. When in fact, he was at the peak of his health. When asked for a comment regarding his death being printed, Twain answered, "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

The same myth is going around for Manual Testing, and most think that with Artificial Intelligence (AI) entering the automation process, manual testing is dying or instead going into life support. And each of these articles fills manual testers with fear for their livelihood. If you think manual testing is dead, think again! In fact, even the most cutting-edge AI technologies will still need a human eye to detect bugs.

Automation vs. User Experience (UX)

Most businesses are looking to hang up their hats on testing automation. While they agree that it is the next big thing, no one wants to aim for 100% automation.

Automated testing is necessary in the world of technology when hunting for bugs and errors. As more and more organizations jump onto the Holy Grail of DevOps or the CI/CT/CD trio, automation testing has been superseding manual testing.

At the same time, manual testing is essential as it helps QA teams discover errors and improve the overall user experience.

Is manual testing dead?

The Variance between Manual and Automated testing

Before we jump into why Manual testing is still alive, let us take a look at the difference between Manual and Automated testing:

  • Manual Testing - Works for scenarios where automated testing cannot replicate the exact ways that human interactions with the app occurs

  • Automated Testing - Best for routine testing and repetitive roles that are tedious and time-consuming

Manual Testing Will Remain Relevant

You may have a love-hate relationship with Manual Testing. But it will always remain relevant. Even with the latest AI and the growth of new technologies, we must maintain the age-old practice and experience acquired over years of testing.


Because of costs, in some cases, manual testing is more cost-effective than automation use cases.

But there is only one scenario where manual testing can be ruled out - when AI or Artificial Intelligence joins the prevailing game. Thankfully, technology is still not at the level of a human brain or emotions, so manual testing is safe and secure in the current scenario.

So, let us look at some tangible and significant reasons why manual testing will remain relevant against automation testing.

Do you know that we all, in some ways, are Exploratory Testers?

The fact is, we all are involved in software testing. Even if you do not have “tester” in your job title, the probabilities are you have participated in some exploratory testing. This “select your own path” sort of testing is not likely with automation.

Exploratory testing facilitates you to take aspects of your software application and peel back the involved layers to discover stuff automated testing will not ever find. It allows you to ask queries like “what if I do it this way as a substitute?”

Exploratory testing is a manual procedure, and there is no altering or swapping that, even in the futuristic world of automation

Not Automation but Manual Testing is Limitless

Automated testing is the easiest and quickest option available, but it has certain limits. There are deeply ingrained restrictions in the system that stems from inexact pre-programming.

Automated testing revolves around planning and preparing for which there are set limits. So, when you have a planned automatic testing system, you cannot side-track from it.

On the other hand, manual testing helps you scrutinize the entire process or even build a new one. In other words, you have total control of exploratory testing that is not available in the automatic testing technique and methods.

Ad hoc testing does not have pre-made plans or strategies, so manual testing is the only path accessible for most software companies, who cannot afford automation.

Manual Testing Requires Little to No Tools

One of the most significant selling points of manual testing. If you want data, a computer will outsmart any human brain. But, when we talk about the program's usability, manual testing is the driving seat.

Let us look at where your web page or app has an 'Enter' button that shrinks so much that users can discern what it might say. But automated scripts will not identify the activity as a bug.

Manual testing is perfect for this, whereas Automatic Testing is useless with usability issues and UI glitches. Also, there is no potential to locate UI defects as efficiently as the human brain does this.

In the case of manual testing, there are different aspects of testing that may need their tools, like integration, unit, security, bug tracking, and performance. But there are multiple tools built that can help perform them all, like Bugzilla, Tessy Citrus, and LoadRunner. Most of these are open-sourced and commercial.

Why Manual Testing is Best During Early Development Stages?

Manual testing is the best go-to option for the early development stages of software development. This allows developers to identify any visual errors or bottlenecks that may occur before kicking the entire process into full gear.

The initial steps are known for their countless iterations, so engaging the workforce and investing in a completely automated process is counterproductive. This is why manual testing is perfect, as it takes less time, effort, and money to correct the wrongs later in the process.

Mobile Test Automation Tools are Still not Completely Matured

The entire world of mobile test automation is still in its stages of adolescence. This means that the solutions available for mobile testing are still quite far and few. Most tools have an Appium testing framework, but they have multiple errors and limitations that can hinder the efficient automation of users' mobile apps.

These can include options such as device variations, button sizes, location of devices, and others that can cause poor testing processes.

On the other hand, manual testing has greater efficiency:

  1. Accurate user interface testing

  2. Simulating real-time user experiences

  3. Handling app crashes more efficiently

  4. Dealing with more user-case scenarios

You can spend millions of hours automating the verification of particular functionalities, but you need more than that; your testing will be successful. So, when testing software using complex logic and codes, the value-price ratio to performing manual testing needs to be greater than the resources required for writing automation.

Another aspect to remember is that these tasks have a concise shelf life, as the code may be needed only once. This makes the final automation counter-beneficial which makes the manual testing worthwhile.

Some of the Key Manual Testing Use Cases

Manual testing is still essential in cases where automated testing is not viable. So, while automated testing is flashier and gets more attention, manual testing is still relevant. Some of the use cases that manual testing helps with over automated scripting are:

  • Replication of bugs - Testers can read a simple bug report, grab a device and replicate it. There is no need to set up scenarios, frameworks, or requirements.

  • Compatibility of devices - When having issues with specific devices then, manual testing in real-time can help solve the issue

  • UI/UX interface - By manually testing different scenarios to understand how real users can interact with your app and catch bugs

  • Device permissions - These are tested manually with Quality Assurance teams figure the permissions are not used much

  • App connectivity - Testing manually against real-time network environments

Where can Manual Testing not be Substituted or Replaced?

In certain aspects, Manual testing cannot be replaced or substituted by automated testing. These are:

  • Small projects - The cost of installing automated testing is high as the traditional options of manual testing. So, for small projects, it is not feasible to implement automated testing

  • Understanding user needs - A human being can understand human emotions, which, sadly, machines cannot. So, manual testing can put themselves in the shoes of their potential users and analyze the software based on their needs and demands

  • Personalized application of processes - Not all software needs to be tested using the same technique. Every business needs personalized application of testing processes based on the brand's size, type, and need. So, manual testing is mandatory where there are regular changes in requirements

  • High maintenance cost of automation - Automation may get out of the budget of small organizations. They prefer manual testing to move away from the cost of automated options

Opting Automated Testing Over Manual Testing

With the evolution of trends throughout the software industry, a plethora of companies are starting to opt for automated testing over manual testing.

But from the reasons mentioned above, it is evident that manual testing holds an intense validation phase based on the rapid movement of the software development cycle.

Manual testing helps businesses understand the problem from the users' perspectives and explores the other angles of testing with flexibility.

Key Takeaways

Manual testing still gives due diligence to user experience and unautomated scenes, but they cost less during short-term projects. While automated testing helps save time in the long run by accomplishing a large number of tests in a short time, manual testing still has advantages over it. So, to all automated testing advocates who promote that manual testing is on life support - it is still thriving!

At PerfectQA, we enable quality software with testing and Quality Assurance (QA) services. We offer both manual and automation testing services to our esteemed clients. Our services will help you in building great control over your software's life cycle, track every stage of development, and offer consistent product quality to the numerous stakeholders and user base involved in your projects. Let’s connect to discuss your next software testing and QA project.

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