FAQ: What Is Software Testing?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 15, 2022

Published December 14, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Illustration of a person typing on their computer next to a flowchart outlining the four main stages of testing.

People constantly use software, from websites to phone applications to banking systems to security databases. As companies develop new software, they use software testing to ensure the system works well when released to consumers. Software testing has an increasing demand as a skill set and career field.

In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about software testing.

What is software testing?

Software testing is the evaluation of how software acts when faced with a variety of tasks or circumstances. For the best results, the software testing process would start as early as possible in the development process and continue until the product launches.

Software testing is an intensive process that requires repetition and strong attention to detail from the developer team and the software testers. As new technology emerges, software testing changes and grows to meet the demands of the testing.

Related: 12 Best Certifications for Software Testing (Plus Tips)

What are the modes of software testing?

There are many ways to designate types of software testing. The first designation refers to the method the software tester uses to complete the test, whether by hand or by code. This designation has three methods:

  • Manual: With manual testing, a software tester runs test cases without using a set of codes or scripts and completes the test by attempting the task by hand. This method can be time-consuming, as humans process things slower than a computer, but it allows the tester to see results of the task in real time.

  • Automated: Automated testing uses test scripts written by the tester to run the task. The computer runs the test much faster than a human could and allows the tester to save time.

  • Hybrid: Hybrid testing is often the preferred method because it combines manual and automated testing. A tester completes some tasks manually and uses a script to run the other tasks, allowing multiple tasks to happen at once.

What are the classifications of software testing?

Some of the other ways to classify software testing look at what information the tester uses or what function of the software the tester evaluates. The box labels refer to information, and the functional and nonfunctional labels refer to how a facet of the software performs. Here are some of those testing methods:

Box

Here are the three box methods of software testing:

  • White box: For a white box test, the software tester has the most information about the product. The tester uses information about how the software should run for customers and developers, then runs tests and makes improvements on both sides.

  • Gray box: The gray box method gives the tester some information about the product and asks the tester to find bugs that might not be obvious to the user. This helps find bugs with things like aesthetics or something the user might not realize is incorrect.

  • Black box: For black box testing, the tester only uses the same information that a consumer would have, and performs the test as a consumer. This reveals bugs that consumers might find when using the software before releasing the software to consumers.

Functional

Functional testing evaluates how each application or function of the software performs against the business or organization requirements. Functional tests often run as black box tests, so the tester only uses the software as a consumer might. Here are some of the functional tests:

  • Unit: The developer team often runs unit testing before the test team does. Unit tests evaluate that the code unit performs the function as designed and allows the developers to catch the earliest set of bugs in the code and save time later.

  • Integration: Integration testing takes multiple units of code and combines them into modules with specific functions. These tests ensure those modules complete the task or set of tasks correctly when integrated with the software.

  • System: System testing evaluates how the entire system performs once integrated. Testers run this test by acting as the consumer and testing the software from end to end.

  • Acceptance: In acceptance testing, a small group of consumers use the software before the general release to find and report any bugs that the testers may have missed. This allows users outside the development team to try the software and give feedback.

  • Interface: Interface testing evaluates whether the software communicates correctly between two systems. These systems include servers, databases and user platforms.

  • Regression: Regression testing uses old test cases and tries them on the software after adding updates, along with testing if the functionality breaks down over time or use. Using the same test cases shows the testers if the functionality improved with the updates.

  • Sanity: Sanity testing evaluates the logic of a system. It ensures that pieces work together in a way that other testers and users can follow.

  • Smoke: Smoke testing focuses on basic functions, such as logging in or page navigation. This works on bugs that may occur for a high percentage of users.

Nonfunctional

Nonfunctional testing evaluates the operational capacity of the system. With nonfunctional tests, the tester examines how the software performs under stress or different workloads. Here's a list of some of the nonfunctional tests that software testers use:

  • Compatibility: Compatibility testing observes how the software acts on different platforms, like browsers or operating systems. This helps ensure accessibility for an array of users.

  • Compliance: Compliance testing ensures the software meets standards, both internally and externally. This test gives the team the chance to improve product quality by meeting standards.

  • Install: This tests how the software behaves after installation. This helps things like apps on a phone and browser extensions.

  • Load: This test evaluates how the software performs under different levels of demand. The test simulates different levels of site traffic and task performance to ensure the software works as designed.

  • Localization: Localization testing checks that a software operates correctly within a local environment or cultural settings. This ensures the software's accessibility to users across a large geographical spread.

  • Performance: Performance testing measures the software's speed under the average demand. Performance tests also refer to load and stress tests.

  • Recovery: Recovery testing looks at how well the software recovers from things like failures and hardware crashes. This helps measure the recovery time after a failure and if the software is fully functional after a reboot.

  • Reliability: Reliability testing evaluates the software's capacity to perform one task for a length of time without failing. Reliability testing helps increase the operational capacity and extends the time needed between updates.

  • Security: Security testing involves testers attempting to "attack" the software and find any vulnerabilities. This test helps strengthen the software against outside security breaches after release.

  • Stress: Stress testing puts reasonable and unreasonable amounts of high demand on a software to find the point where the software breaks. This shows where the peak load and the overload points are for a software.

  • Usability: Usability testing evaluates if the software is intuitive and functional for the consumer with things like layout and aesthetic design. This happens during later testing stages, like system or acceptance testing.

  • Volume: Volume testing adds an increased data volume to the software and evaluates how the software performs. This helps evaluate performance speeds in high-input situations.

Read more: 111 Types of Testing in Software

What is the software testing process?

There is a four-step process for testing software. This plan stays the same whether an individual or team of testers works on the project and repeats every time the team performs a new test. Here's the software testing process:

  1. Planning: Every test starts with a plan. The tester gathers the information, like what tests to perform, what bugs to look for and the desired test results, and creates a plan with a set of priorities and tasks.

  2. Preparing: Testing requires the correct setting. The tester researches the product features and previous test cases and gathers the tools needed for the particular test set.

  3. Executing: The tester runs the tests on the software and records the results. The tester notes which test cases succeeded or failed and how the results compare to the ideal result for the particular task.

  4. Reporting: The tester compiles the results for that test into a report and delivers it to project leaders. Documenting the results is important so that the team can fix problems that arose or bugs that appeared.

Read more: The Phases of Software Testing: Explanation and Steps

Who performs software testing?

The software development team includes software testing engineers who perform these quality assurance tests. The testers run the software through all the tests, often repeating the tests as needed as new code and information become available. Software testers use technical skills like proficiency with different coding languages and database tools and combine them with soft skills like critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

Related: How To Become a Software Testing Engineer

Why is software testing important?

Software testing improves several facets of product function and provides benefits to both the creator and the consumer:

  • Product quality: Starting the software testing process as early as possible helps improve the quality of the product. Software testing eliminates as many bugs as possible and results in a higher-quality product.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Software testing is an expensive process for both time and money, but starting the process early allows for identification and resolution of some of the larger issues before they are consumer-facing. This can help prevent even costlier fixes later on, like problems for consumers or potential losses during downtime.

  • Compatibility: Software testing helps ensure that the final product is compatible between various platforms and user interfaces. The testing process helps eliminate compatibility issues and ensures a smooth transition on every platform.

  • Security: The software testing process helps increase the security of the product and any personal information the consumer puts into the software. The testing process eliminates as many weak points in the product's security as possible by finding the bugs that might allow system breaches by hackers or other software.

  • User satisfaction: By eliminating the malfunctions in the software, software testing helps deliver a better product to the consumer. With higher consumer satisfaction, the consumer is more likely to continue using the product


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