What are the different testing types that analysts use?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 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.

Software testing is important as it allows QA analysts to diagnose errors and prevent them from disrupting end-user activity by making coding changes. There are many different types of testing in software that companies use to identify areas that require improvements. As a QA analyst or software developer, the testing method you'd use for these purposes can vary according to the type of software and what aspect you want to examine. In this article, we outline what software testing is, the three different ways to test software and some software testing types.

What are software testing types?

Software testing is the process of checking software programmes through a variety of testing types to ensure it meets expected requirements and is error-free. Websites, mobile applications, content management systems and various other products and services use software, which is why there are several types of software testing techniques. The primary aim of software testing is to ensure the software is end-user friendly and operates at maximum function. Here are some common problems that arise with software development that software testing types can identify and prevent:

  • a frozen screen

  • pop-up ads

  • attachments that won't open

  • incorrect data edits

  • inadequate security controls

Related: Software engineering vs computer science: the differences you need to know

Three ways to test software

There are three different ways to test software, with each method providing its own set of advantages. They include:

  • Manual testing: Manual software testing involves a QA analyst or software professional clicking through the application and interacting with the software, which makes it time-consuming and prone to human error, although it's also the most cost-effective option. You need the appropriate tools to interact with APIs and test individual aspects of the software.

  • Automated testing: These tests allow you to check singular aspects of the software to examine full sequences. A machine that runs a test script that's written for software conducts this form of testing.

  • Continuous testing: This type of software testing involves carrying out tests continuously using automated tests to obtain feedback as software evolves. This is useful for when companies plan to launch the software on a large scale.

Related: How to become a software testing engineer with skills

Different software testing types

There are more than 100 types of software testing methods that you can use to determine whether software achieves its necessary goals. Some of these methods include:

1. Unit testing

Unit testing is a way of testing small pieces of code that a software system can isolate. These small components comprise a particular function, module, sequence or subroutine in the software. This test ensures that individual parts function properly on their own and is relatively cheap to automate given the low level of testing involved.

2. Age testing

Age testing evaluates the system's performance in the future, determining whether its efficiency might decrease over time or maintain its original function. In simpler terms, age testing assesses the durability of software. As a tester, it allows you to take actions to improve the system and fortify it against forecasted problems before they occur. The results may indicate that the software requires an update every five years to remain usable or needs new features periodically.

3. API testing

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the layers or connecting tissues of an application. API connects the data and presentation layer of an application by dictating how a user interacts with the application. It does this by interpreting the data and presenting it in a user-friendly form for the end-user.

Testing teams use API testing to test the functionality and security between software systems. The goal is to ensure that the data interprets features well and allows for a great user experience. This is an important aspect of software testing since it comprises more than one component, so it's common to use continuous testing to assess APIs.

4. White box testing

White box testing examines the internal structure of software, including its design, code and architecture. This software testing technique verifies input-output flow and ensures software runs according to its original specification. Testing the internal components allows you to make appropriate changes to design, security and usability features.

5. Active testing

Active testing is where software testers experience the software as an end-user. This means that you'd interact with the software as though you're a customer, vendor or client to identify any problems. You can select different software combinations and features to validate software behaviour and ensure it performs properly. This type of testing also allows you to determine whether the software is difficult for an average individual to navigate or understand.

Related: 6 essential software engineer skills

6. Sanity testing

This test involves testing software after it has already undergone code changes to improve its functionality. Sanity testing is a secondary testing method that determines the status of previously identified fixed bugs and ensures the new changes don't cause further issues. This test doesn't verify whether the software is fit for end-user activity, but rather involves applying logic, or sanity, to existing problems.

7. Functional testing

Functional tests focus on the business requirements of an application or system and ensure it's doing exactly what it's intended to do. This test involves providing appropriate input and verifying whether the output or result aligns with the specification. This method neglects the code of a system and rather assesses how it translates for users.

8. Blackbox testing

Otherwise known as behavioural testing, this technique involves testing a system with no prior knowledge of the internal paths, code structure or implementation details. As a tester with no previous understanding of the code behind the software, you'd input data and observe the outcome of it. You'd then assess whether the output aligns with the software requirements and specifications as detailed in the software brief.

9. Acceptance testing

Acceptance testing ensures a product or application is acceptable for end-users. Users determine whether the software satisfies their end-user needs, business requirements and performs optimally. If the software passes the test, it means customers or clients accept it. Failure means that it doesn't meet business or end-user needs and may require additional features or updates. To perform acceptance testing, the application or product requires full completion.

10. Ad-hoc testing

Ad-hoc software testing is an informal process that detects software errors and mistakes by forcibly trying to break the software. It's common to perform this test in the early stages of software testing and it involves performing random actions that don't follow the software specification. This is a relatively inexpensive form of software testing as no planning, documentation or process is necessary to launch it. Ad-hoc testing allows you to troubleshoot and fix unidentified problems before software goes live.

11. Security testing

Security testing unveils the threats, risks and vulnerabilities in software. This test is important for protecting software from intruders or unwarranted activity. Identifying and fixing threats or loopholes removes weaknesses in the software structure. This prevents intruders from gaining access to data, information, repute or revenue.

12. Alpha testing

Alpha testing is primarily used towards the end of the software development process as it involves diagnosing all the issues in an entire software system. It requires you to emulate customer or client behaviours and check for any late-occurring errors or bugs. Some testers create a virtual environment to test the product in real-time and under real circumstances. You can then give a comprehensive review of the software and decide whether it's ready for end-user deployment.

Related: 36 software testing interview questions with sample answers

13. Interactive testing

Interactive testing involves creating manual tests for individuals who don't use or have access to automation services. Interactive testing requires you to follow a written test plan that outlines all the unique test scenarios. You then analyse the performance of an application or product manually. If there's a difference between the actual behaviour and expected behaviour as outlined by the criteria, this indicates a bug that requires fixing.

14. Regression testing

This is a software testing type that confirms that new code changes or modifications haven't had a negative impact on the software's existing features. Regression testing is therefore a secondary test that focuses on a particular aspect of an already tested software to guarantee that existing functionalities work as expected. This is useful because, in some instances, code modifications can cause the software to break or consume resources.

15. End-to-end testing

End-to-end testing is a method that involves testing software processes from beginning to end, ensuring that it runs smoothly and as expected. It goes through every operation to test how the software communicates with hardware and databases, its network connectivity and its external dependencies. Operations may be as simple as logging in or as complex as customisation.

For this test to be successful, you'd replicate end-user behaviours and scenarios in a complete application environment. This means that end-to-end testing usually happens in the later stages of software development. Performing this test under real-time circumstances validates the integration and data integrity of software.

Explore more articles