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Exploratory Testing: How Do You Approach it as a QA Engineer?

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing process vividly contrasts with other, more structured testing activities. Some teams even neglect it altogether due to exploratory testing not being a “true QA activity”, although we think this cannot be further from the truth. Instead, this type of testing is a very creative activity that allows QA people to identify various software defects that otherwise could’ve been overlooked with a more structured approach. So today, let’s talk about how you can get the most out of exploratory testing.

First, let’s start with defining what this approach is. The actual test cases that the tester will carry out are not established during exploratory testing. Instead, individuals or groups taking the tests decide what area they will focus on, and what they will do at each point in the test. There is no defined approach that describes the step-by-step process and its desired outcome.

The primary goal of this unique testing method is to allow testers to simulate the flexibility and choices of individual end-users. As a result, software testers engage in this process to get a deeper understanding of the quality and usability of the final product. When it comes to testing, it doesn’t need a lot of preparation since testers may choose what features and scenarios they want to focus on.

During this kind of testing, the tester is expected to think outside the box. We can think of exploratory testing as thinking of user journeys that regular test cases are likely to have omitted. The number of possible user inputs in a complex application can be staggeringly large. Sometimes, it is not feasible for testers to cover every possible test case.

As a user, you may have mindlessly explored your favorite game and uncovered glitches when certain combinations of player inputs were entered. Exploratory testing works on similar principles.

Types of Exploratory Testing

  • Unplanned/Improvised exploratory testing

This form of testing takes a freestyle approach to testing and does not contain any strict rules, methodologies, or requirements. Sometimes, this sub-type of testing is also called ad-hoc. This method works well in scenarios where the tester approaches a new project that they’re not familiar with. It’s one of the fastest ways to get a feel of how the software works and potentially uncover flow imperfections.

  • User Scenario-based testing

Real-world situations are the basis for this kind of exploratory testing, in which the software is tested from every aspect to make sure it matches the scenario. This approach can precede the stage where test cases are being written. The primary goal of this form of testing is to examine the software in as many different ways as possible in order to guarantee the comprehensiveness of the test cases.

  • Strategic exploratory testing

This sort of testing is carried out by a skilled tester who is well conversant with the program under test. In order to find more complex issues, this approach uses a variety of testing approaches, such as equivalence, risk-based testing, and error guessing.

Some Challenges of Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing, when done correctly, is a lot more complicated than going through existing test cases. Thus it requires highly skilled testers, and finding and mastering the right talent is both costly and time-consuming.

Another challenge is the wide range of testing. It’s pointless to engage testers who utilize the same methodologies, since the results will be the same. When it comes to testing, diversification is crucial. When every tester on the team is using the same devices and is exploring the same user scenarios, the results will be redundant.

It might be difficult to measure the success of exploratory testing and calculate the return on investment.

Exploratory Testing and Agile

In exploratory testing, the software is swiftly evaluated on the fly. Testers are permitted to investigate the product from any angle, using their originality and ingenuity. This kind of testing uncovers defects and edge case situations that would have otherwise gone unnoticed by other ways of testing. This method of testing enables testers to learn and test the product concurrently, which is critical in an agile setting, allowing for speedy feedback.

Developers and testers are sometimes required to work on additional features or functions as the project advances, as the scope of the requirements expands. Exploratory testing then helps QA to respond to changes swiftly, without having to alter the whole test plan.

How testRigor Helps with Exploratory Testing

One of the drawbacks of exploratory testing is the difficulty of keeping track of all the steps you did to arrive at a specific bug. It is tedious to manually keep track of all the different inputs entered, and reproducing the bug is always challenging.

With testRigor’s chrome extension, you can record the steps and automatically record the input values at every stage. Most importantly, you now have the playback feature available. This allows you to recreate the same test on a different browser and OS without having to manually redo the steps.

testRigor seamlessly integrates with the most common bug tracking and test case management systems (Jira, TestRail, and many others). Your exploratory tests can be tracked, and issues that need to be fixed can be prioritized accordingly. The ticket created in Jira with the help of testRigor will have the steps necessary to reproduce the defect.


Exploratory testing remains a viable and very valuable type of testing methodology, allowing QA teams to uncover bugs of various types while also realizing time savings. It’s necessary for the testers to have an adequate understanding of the product and user needs and a clear goal in mind. Another key to success is to always log each issue right away; otherwise, you’re risking losing track of it – however, this is the area where an automated test recorder will help.

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