QA Still Needs Humans More Than AI
While the revolutionization of artificial intelligence (AI) remains to exceed leaps and bounds every year, the problem for automating just about everything grows with it. And there’s no doubting the fact that in most, but particular, cases, our primal brains simply can’t work as efficiently as artificial neural systems conjoined with code. Software testing is no exception to this case either.
In many cases, testing has become faster and more reliable when human input was taken out of the equation. Today, automation testing organizations appear to be jumping on the bandwagon that is AI and utilizing it to automate tests to remain competitive in a widely agile industry. Times and conditions like these are when QA testers and technicians may begin to feel clammy below the collar. Could AI spell the end of human testing? We don’t appear to think so. Let’s look at a few approaches our robot overlords aren’t as prominent as us when it comes to software testing.
Humans can better recognize user experiences
Harking back to the time when the internet was yet in its infancy, websites were nothing but black-coated pages with white text. This text was only broken up with flashing lights and scattered with – what appears now as ludicrous – underlined, bolded, or italicized words. This is too frequently done in the least aesthetic methods possible to the human eye. That’s all tailored and let’s not spare a minute’s silence for this, shall we?
Computers fail to recognize what is seen as aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The use and knowledge of colors, text, designs, and patterns are all essentially biological in nature. Such an evolution in cognitive understanding cannot be answered through machines. At least not yet. Once you start to understand why your bank cards are colored gold and silver – indicating the elemental values they represent – you begin to see why humans are still required for aesthetic and cognitive decisions.
This is related to testing too, where with user acceptance testing (UAT), testers try various UX/UI features to know why your programmer’s idea of simple is actually button-click hell. Similarly, human QA testers also deploy the use of eye-tracking to learn why users aren’t clicking on simple buttons and tabs. Such a level of knowledge and forethought is parallel to how calculus is to the average adult.
While automated tests are excellent at spotting broken GUI elements and links, they struggle to quantify how simply navigable your software is. The average user just does not have the time or patience to sit through a complicated mess of an application regardless of how well your automated tests regarded.
Humans are better at spotting errors
When the job at hand is to perform repetitive tests across a broad range of web browsers on multiple systems, a computer is your best bet. When you need to tackle situations creatively, you’re going to require a human.
A good testing analogy to better explain this point is the following:
Imagine you’re testing software that is programmed to read text clearly to the user. The text shown on the page displays the day (23) and month (March), followed by a separator bar, and then a casual financial transaction (588 dollars). Possibilities are, the software would read the text as: “March23588 dollars”. This is because the computer could not differentiate which section of the number was the date and which was the financial information.
If this process was automated, chances are no mistakes would be spotted because most testing tools don’t consider variables of this sort. If the text is incorrect or is misspelled, a computer won’t find that as a bug as it lacks the knowledge of what the text actually means and represents. Similarly, bugs like changes in fonts or a misplaced image are simpler to spot by human testers as opposed to AI-based ones.
Humans write better error messages
In the time it needs to run a script, automated testing can look for and recognize common defects. And while cases exist where there might not be any bugs in a developer’s code, experienced QA professionals can still understand that there could be difficulties originating on the user’s side. Cases, where duplications happen in someone’s login name or using an obvious password selection like “Password”, are ones easily recognized and solved with the help of human intervention.
What’s especially fabulous about using humans for this job is that they can build custom error messages that describe the issue for the user and can guide them on how to proceed to solve them. And yes, error messages are also directed to quality assurance solely due to the fact that a human can fully interpret and build an error message that explains to the user what to do next to resolve an error.
Humans can help save time and money
The main idea of the existence of automation is to help ease some of the more time-consuming and repetitive jobs a person would have to do. What most automation testing organizations disregard, however, is that in some cases, you could preserve more time and decrease overall costs by running tests manually.
This is particularly true when considering automating one-off situations. Some important questions to ask yourself before moving the automation route are the following:
- How hard is it to automate a test?
- How many hours is it going to take to perform this test?
- How long is the test cycle going to working for?
After answering these questions, you can fully visualize the time and cost savings you can perform for any test case before automation. Operating the manual route can especially be helpful if your developers are struggling to satisfy a deadline or trying to find a particular bug in a recent build. Then, with vision and the knowledge to provide you for the next iteration, invest in QA automation software.
Humans communicate better
The software development lifecycle includes collaboration amongst many various teams of people. This collaboration shows difficulty most times on its own and is only compounded if any of the teams are outsourced or located offshore. Synchronizing project work is thus a huge challenge for most businesses.
While hard it may be, it isn’t impossible. This is helped if you have a team of humans (and not machines) that are excellent at utilizing their mouths to make recognizable noises in the form of words. In other terms, to communicate. QA testers in particular are great at not just discovering bugs and defects, but at providing valuable feedback when documenting these bugs. At the end of the day, all QA testers are users and can make improvements to the software as any user would.
And if you’re very good at QA and at being a human, you can perform all this and more all the while creating unintelligible noises from your mouths, if that’s your cup of tea.
Automation has truly revolutionized the way software testing is done today and continues to be the saving grace for most companies when streamlining their workflows. Humans, however, are an essential part of the QA workforce and will remain to be just that at least for the foreseeable future.
When it comes to QA, nothing is better than having the correct people in charge. That’s why we make sure that everyone in our team is qualified and accredited on some of the industry’s best practices.
At TestUnity we have an expert team of QA Engineers. This enables us to give our clients the support they require to make sure that their software hits the market in the right circumstances.
Contact us for a free consultation and see for yourself why TestUnity’s QA approach is the best choice for your software.