There’s a lot of talk that automated testing is replacing manual testing. Why endure the expense of manual testing when you can just write automated tests in their place? It’s faster, cheaper, and provides the same results as manual testing… right?

Wrong. The truth is, manual testing hasn’t gone away. It never will, and here’s why.

Automated testing won't replace manual testing

 5 Reasons why Manual Testing Won’t Replace Automated Testing

1. Usability testing can’t be automated.

Automating usability tests is just not possible. Usability testing requires a human. You can’t train a computer to identify “good” usability vs “bad” usability. Perhaps you’re thinking, “ok, we will just skip usability testing”. Don’t make that mistake. By skipping usability testing, you’re introducing a tremendous amount of risk. This step in the QA process is crucial to ensure confidence in the release, and there’s no way around involving a human being in usability testing.

2. Automated testing only tests what is predictable.

Automated tests reassure us that what we expect to happen does in fact happen. We call this the “happy path”. Automation focuses on functionality that already exists. Its coverage is vast, but it is not deep. Automated testing is great for regression tests, especially when resources are limited. But only doing automated testing is sure to introduce some failures and holes in your testing process.

3. We’re all exploratory testers.

The truth is, we all do software testing. Even if you don’t have “tester” or “qa” in your title, chances are you’ve partaken in some exploratory testing. This “choose your own path” type of testing is not possible with automation. Exploratory testing allows us to take areas of our application and peel back the layers to uncover things automated tests will never find. It enables us to ask questions like “what if I do it this way instead?”. Exploratory testing is a manual process, and there’s no changing that.

4. Automated tests can contain bugs/errors.

Just like your application’s code can contain bugs, automated tests can too. If you write automated tests with bugs, you’re going to have false positives. This can lead to major problems for your customers and your team. The human element of manual testing can identify these errors and make sure you’re testing properly.

5. Technical limitations can come into play.

Some test scenarios are just too complicated or downright impossible to automate. A common argument is “automated testing is cheaper”. But it’s not hard to spend a ton of time and money on elaborate automation. Take for example, testing a variety of touch screen devices. How do you automate the experience of a “tap” and a “swipe”. You can’t do that in a way that is equivalent to human usage.

Conclusion

The existence of both manual testing and automated testing forces us to think about our choice of tools, their cost, and the benefit they will provide. There is a time and place for both methods of testing. Manual testing helps us understand the entire problem and explore other angles of tests with flexibility. Automated testing helps save time in the long run by accomplishing a large number of surface level tests in a short time. It’s up to you to determine when and where each method of testing is used.