The Best Approach To Exploratory Testing

Madigan Johnson

Exploratory testing is a common software testing method used to test software systems on the fly. Oftentimes, companies focus more on other types of testing. They do not give much thought to exploratory testing. Yet, exploratory testing is a great way to investigate systems. It allows the individual tester to have free rein. So what is exploratory testing and how will it benefit your testing process? 

What is Exploratory Testing?

Exploratory testing is defined as a type of testing in which there are no test cases written, but rather the system is checked spontaneously. It is more focused on the thinking aspects, rather than following directions. It is a good test to conduct to discover, investigate, and learn about the product. It is the process of test design and execution all at once. It is not just random investigation but has the purpose of finding bugs. There are different structures within it and has a rigorous testing process. One of the best features of exploratory testing is that the actions you are currently taking will influence your next steps.  

Advantages of Exploratory Testing

Each testing option has its pros and cons. Exploratory testing provides a lot of benefits to companies that implement it. Some of these benefits are as follows:

  • Reduces test prep time as testers can start sooner because there is less documentation
  • Can be conducted when the required documents are not readily available
  • More investigative which uncovers more bugs and bugs that are not normally caught in other avenues of testing
  • Increases the aptitude of testers to write better test cases
  • Focuses on the small and detailed aspects of the application
  • Applies coverages to all situations and scenarios the application can be put through
  • Provokes new ideas that can be used for later test execution
  • Assists testers in getting creative and more intuitive 
  • Works well to conduct quick testing or have a tight turnaround time
  • Allows for quick feedback on the application
  • Supports Agile development

Disadvantages of Exploratory Testing

Like with every type of testing, there are some disadvantages associated with exploratory testing. The cons of exploratory testing are as follows: 

  • Can be challenging as a first-time tester
  • Repeating the issue/bug can be difficult
  • Deciding which are the best tools to use
  • Creating test result reports as there are not actual outcomes to compare against
  • Documentation in general can be difficult to navigate
  • Focusing on the qualitative issues, rather than quantitative. The aim of exploratory is to find scenarios that are not covered in normal test situations
  • Possible lack of out of the box thinking and a creative approach from testers

The Stages of Exploratory Testing

Classification of bugs

This includes looking at the bugs and grouping them together based on previous projects. Looking at what is the root problem and being creative with new ideas to check the application are good starting points. 

Creating a test charter

The purpose of the test charter is to explain the goal of the exploratory testing. There are three main points in the test charter:

          1. What to test

        2. How to test

        3. What factors should be considered

Creating a time box

This is needed to ensure that the tester has a time limit of the exploratory session. 


This is where the testers will find and record any defects in the product. They will provide analysis and coverage of their testing session.

Examining results

Testers will need to compile their results and evaluate them against the test charter. Analysis of these results occurs to decide if more testing needs to be done or the information can be released to the client. 

Top Practices For Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is a fantastic way to get high-quality software. This is possible because it pushes testers and the application outside of the scripted test cases and procedures. Exploratory testers can test the application in real-world situations allowing testers to understand the situations that real users might get into. We have compiled five techniques that help when conducting exploratory testing.

Ask these questions.

          1. What is the product’s purpose? What is it meant to do?

        2. What are the primary functions of this product?

        3. What could be the potential issue areas? What might fail/crash/provide a bad user experience?

Have adequate resources. 

Really what this means is having a skilled tester conduct the exploratory testing. This type of testing can be challenging for some as it does not follow a script. You need to ensure that the tester is autonomous, skilled, creative, and can think strategically. They need to have strong observation skills and be able to improvise depending on what the application is showing. They also need to be holistic and great communicators.

Prepare the tests. 

This means setting up for the different stages of exploratory testing. The most important factors are the classification of bugs, creation of a test charter, and constructing a time box. There also needs to be a testing scope. A solid preparation before undergoing the test will help rationalize the testing method and the scope of the project.

Don’t try and test the entire system in one go

Oftentimes in exploratory testing, testers will try and test the entire system all at once. This is usually not the aim of the test scope. Instead of focusing attention on testing everything, let exploratory testing be a way to test the system’s requirements. It can be conducted through intuitive and creative ways that focus on the system’s continuous improvement.  

Complete a thorough bug report

Creating a detailed bug report in exploratory testing can be difficult. Issues are often hard to replicate and tracing back your steps can be time-consuming. Testers need to focus on communication here. There needs to be a complete report on the idea behind the test, steps taken and how to reproduce them, the conditions of the test, the coverage of that test area, and the results and evaluations from that issue. By doing this, you will help others replicate the issue and solve it.

Examine results and debrief

Finally, after examining the results and getting a debrief from the tester, clients can decide if more exploratory testing is needed or not. It is a great way to evaluate how the test went and if there are future issues that need to be addressed. 


Exploratory testing is a great way to get high-quality software. Any software can benefit from it. Exploratory testing can unleash the potential of a tester. Here at Loop, we believe strongly in exploratory testing and have a team of experienced software testers that are creative and quick thinkers. We would love to help your team find the issues that are blocking strong product development.

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