24 Common software testing types and when to use them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 May 2022

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.

Software tests check a software application to ensure it works properly and meets the written requirements specifications. It aims to eliminate bugs and to enhance the performance, security and user experience of the software. Understanding the different software testing types can help you know which type of testing is best to contribute to customer satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the software. In this article, we consider the 24 most common software testing types, what they test and when project teams use each type.

Software testing types

There are two primary categories of software testing: functional and non-functional. Maintenance testing is another general category of software testing. Here are the different software tests:

1. Functional tests

Functional testing involves testing the functional aspects of a software application. Functional software tests test every aspect of the software's functionality. It makes sure the software achieves its intended purpose. You can perform functional tests manually or using automation tools, such as Micro Focus Unified Functional Testing (UFT), JUnit, soapUI, Watir or Selenium. There are many types of functional testing:

  • unit testing

  • integration testing

  • end-to-end testing

  • smoke testing

  • sanity testing

  • regression testing

  • acceptance testing

  • white-box testing

  • black-box testing

  • interface testing

2. Non-functional Testing

Non-functional testing involves testing the non-functional aspects of an application, including its performance, security and usability. These tests take place after functional testing and aim to improve the quality of the software. The different non-functional tests are:

  • performance

  • security

  • load

  • failover

  • compatibility

  • usability

  • scalability

  • volume

  • stress

  • maintainability

  • compliance

  • efficiency

  • reliability

  • endurance

  • disaster recovery

  • localisation

  • internationalisation

Common software testing types

The most common types of software tests include:

1. Unit testing

Unit testing involves testing every component or module of a software project. Programmers perform unit testing, as it requires programming knowledge. Tools you can use for unit testing include Mocha and Jasmine.

Related: 6 Essential software engineer skills

2. Integration testing

Integration testing takes place after integrating the software modules and tests whether the combined modules work well together. You don't perform as many integration tests as unit tests. Suitable tools for integrating testing are Jasmine and Mocha.

3. End-to-end testing

End-to-end testing involves the functional testing of the complete software system. End-to-end testing is not as extensive as integration tests. Some of the best tools for end-to-end testing are Cucumber, Jasmine, SpecFlow, Protractor, Jasmine and Karma.

4. User interface testing

User interface testing tests the software application's user interface to determine whether the user interface meets the documented requirements. These tests help to make the application's user interface more user-friendly and attractive to its users. Some of the best-automated user interface testing tools include Monkey for Android, Protractor and Sauce Labs.

5. Accessibility testing

Accessible testing involves testing whether disabled people can access the software successfully. When you perform these tests, you check whether blind, colour-blind or deaf people can use the software. For example, to make software accessible to colour-blind people, the right combination of colour and contrast is critical.

6. Alpha testing

During Alpha testing, you look for issues and errors in the complete software system. Alpha testing takes place during the last phase of the application's development. These tests occur with the developers before launching the product or delivering it to the client. Alpha testing takes place before beta testing. Alpha testing occurs in a virtual environment that resembles the real environment.

7. Beta testing

Beta testing typically takes place after alpha testing and before the launch of the product. It occurs in a real user environment. A few customers or users do the testing to make sure it functions smoothly and is error-free. The software developers use the feedback from the testers to improve the software. After the completion of beta testing, the company can release the product to the public.

8. Ad hoc testing

Ad hoc testing occurs on an ad hoc basis without plans, systems, documentation or test cases. Ad hoc tests typically detect technical issues and don't look for errors specifically. Anyone involved in the project can do ad hoc testing.

9. Compatibility testing

Compatibility testing checks the compatibility of the software with different web browsers, operating systems, hardware or network environments. It determines whether the software application works well with different configurations. For example, if the software is a web application, compatibility testing tests whether users can access the application using different versions of the most commonly used web browsers.

Related: 12 Essential web designer skills

10. Backward compatibility testing

Backward compatibility testing tests whether a new or updated version of an application is compatible with the previous versions of the environments (including operating systems and web browsers) on which it operates. An application may receive an update to match the style and standard of a newer, more modern environment. In such a case, backward compatibility testing takes place.

11. Browser compatibility testing

Browser compatibility testing is a type of compatibility test. It tests the application's compatibility for different browsers. Popular tools to test browser compatibility are LambdaTest, CrossBrowserTesting.com, Browsershots, Browsera and Experitest.

12. Performance testing

Performance tests involve running the software to check how well it performs. The performance of the software application can improve when the developers fix the issues identified through performance testing. Great performance testing tools or load testing tools for web applications include WebLOAD, NeoLoad, LoadView, LoadRunner, k6, Tricentis Flood or Rational Performance Tester.

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

13. Load testing

Load testing focuses on testing the load the system can take before the software's performance degrades. This test shows what the capacity of the software application is. Tools you can use for load tests include JMeter, LoadRunner or WebLOAD.

14. Recovery testing

Recovery testing checks whether the software application can recover from crashes. Testers observe how efficiently the application returns to a regular flow of execution after a crash occurs. Recovery mechanisms can help the software application recover quickly to function smoothly again.

15. Regression testing

Sometimes the developers make changes to one or more modules, components or functions of a software application. When this happens, regression testing takes place to determine if the system functions well after the modifications. Regression testing tests the complete system's functioning after modifications.

16. Agile testing

The Quality Assurance (QA) team performs agile testing. This test uses the rules of the agile method and focuses on the actual customers' viewpoint. Valuable tools for agile testing include Jira, JunoOne, PractiTest, VersionOne, SoapUI and TestRail.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

17. API testing

Application programming interfaces (API) testing is a type of code-level testing, similar to unit testing. The development team performs unit testing and the QA team handles API testing. API testing tests the application's APIs directly as part of integration testing to determine if they meet the functionality, reliability, security and performance requirements.

18. Black-box testing

The QA team performs black-box testing. It involves a check of the application's functionality without technical knowledge of the application. Technical knowledge includes knowledge about the software's internal structure, how the code works and its logic.

19. White-box testing

The development team performs white-box testing. White-box testing requires a good understanding of the software application's code. For white-box testing, the testers need detailed knowledge of the application's internal logic.

20. Security testing

Security experts perform security tests. They determine if the software application's security measures prevent security breaches. They also identify security issues to strengthen the application's security. Security testing tools you can use are Grabber, IronWASP, Arachni and Nogotofail.

Related: How to write a security officer cover letter (with a template and an example)

21. Usability testing

Usability testing tests how user-friendly an application is. One way to perform usability testing is to invite people to use the software and see if they can use it with no help. Commonly used usability testing tools are Optimizely, Crazy Egg, Qualaroo, Clicktale, Usabilla, Five Second Test and Chalkmark.

22. Scalability testing

Scalability testing determines if the software is scalable. It checks if the application performs well regardless of the number of users and transactions. A business may experience a loss when a software application is not scalable.

23. Reliability testing

Reliability testing verifies the reliability of the software. Part of reliability testing is testing if the software runs without errors to allow people to rely on it. For example, a user may store their personal information in the software's database. If the database gets deleted because of an error in the application's code, we can conclude that the software is unreliable.

24. Acceptance testing

The client purchasing the software performs acceptance testing. They check if the system meets their preferences and requirements to decide if they can accept the software. If the software doesn't meet the client's requirements, they may request changes to the software before accepting it.

None of the companies or products mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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