Automated Testing vs. Manual Testing: Key Differences

Learn how to find the right balance between manual and automated testing approaches to significantly improve the overall quality of the delivery.

Automated Testing vs. Manual Testing: Key Differences

Recently, we’ve been sharing lots of articles about the parts of the testing pyramid. But today, let’s solve the fundamental dispute in testing: what is better, manual or automated QA, and when?

Table of contents

Manual technique is considered to be more scrupulous and true-to-life, but automation is a crucial puzzle of the CI/CD process. How to find the right balance between manual vs. automation testing and improve the overall quality of delivery? Find out a squeeze of useful info in our new article on testing below.

What Is Manual Testing?

In manual testing, QA professionals individually conduct tests without the aid of automation tools. Its primary objective is to identify defects and ensure functionality before a software application becomes publicly available.

Here, testers focus on validating the core functionalities of an application. They meticulously work through test scenarios and subsequently compile detailed reports on any discrepancies or issues, all without the assistance of automated solutions.

What Is Automated Testing?

Automated testing involves the use of specialized tools and scripts to streamline and enhance the testing process.

A key advantage of automated testing is its ability to run a broader range of test scenarios, leading to improved test coverage. While manual testing can be time-consuming, automated methods offer a more efficient approach, delivering faster and often more consistent results.

How Does Manual Testing Work?

Imagine a developer has crafted an online shopping platform and seeks your testing expertise for its product checkout feature. The expected behavior is that a user should be able to add items to the cart, proceed to the checkout page, input payment details, and finally click on the “Purchase” button to finalize the order.

Should the “Purchase” button not generate an order confirmation message or fail to execute the transaction, this discrepancy would be flagged by the QA and reported back to the developer.

The manual steps undertaken during this eCommerce platform testing would be:

  1. Launch a web browser;
  2. Browse to the shopping platform’s URL;
  3. Select items and add them to the cart;
  4. Navigate to the checkout page;
  5. Input payment details and click on “Purchase”;
  6. Report any issues or glitches encountered during the checkout process.

How Automation Testing Takes Place

In manual testing, QA engineers are posed to repeat their test cases each time they need it, while automation helps to optimize this process. Thus, test cases, once created, can be used many times again till the conditions change. Here’s an overview of how it generally unfolds:

  1. Picking up the right test cases: Automation isn’t apt for every test case or test scenario. Generally, tasks that are repetitive, involve intricate calculations, or are too tedious when executed manually make the best fit for automation.
  2. Creation of the automation scripts: After pinpointing the right test cases and scenarios, testers craft scripts with a language that’s compatible with their automation tool. These scripts detail the sequence of actions, emulating the steps a human tester would take.
  3. Setting up the environment for testing: Before executing the automated tests, the environment, including the system, network configurations, and the software itself, is set up. This ensures that the tests run under consistent conditions every time.
  4. Running all the test cases: Once everything’s set up, the automation tool runs the test scripts. This can happen outside of regular working hours or as part of a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, ensuring rapid feedback to developers.
  5. Reporting the test results: Post execution, the automation tool will provide a detailed report of the tests, showcasing passed and failed scenarios. If a test fails, the tool might capture screenshots or logs to help pinpoint the issue.
  6. Test updates and maintenance: Over time, as the software evolves and new features are added, the automated test scripts will need updates to remain effective. This is a crucial step, ensuring that the automation suite remains relevant and continues to provide value.

By automating these processes, teams can run tests more frequently and catch issues early, ensuring higher software quality and faster release cycles.

6 Core Types of Automated Testing

Now, let’s delve into 6 main types of automated testing that you will come across during your work:


At its core, unit testing focuses on individual sections or elements of a software application. This entails creating code that examines each function or method within the software, verifying that these singular components operate correctly in isolation. This testing level is the most detailed and typically woven into the development phase.


Integration testing evaluates how different components or systems work together. Testers ensure that when individual units are combined, they interact correctly and data flows smoothly between them. This type of testing is crucial when integrating new features or systems.


Regression testing ensures that recent modifications in the code haven’t inadvertently disrupted existing functionalities or brought about unforeseen issues. Through it, QA specialists ascertain that the software, once developed and tested, maintains its functionality even after updates or changes.


Also known as “sanity testing”, smoke testing comprises a minimal set of tests to ensure that the major functionalities of a software application work. It acts as a preliminary check after a build or release to determine if the software is stable enough for more in-depth testing.


This type of testing is needed to ensure that the app behaves according to the defined specifications and requirements. Functional testing examines features and functions like user interactions, data input, and processes, making sure they work correctly.


While functional testing evaluates specific behaviors, non-functional testing examines aspects of the software that don’t relate directly to specific functions. This includes areas like performance, usability, security, and scalability, ensuring the software meets quality standards beyond its primary functions.

The testing pyramid

Pros and Cons of Both Methods

Manual testing involves understanding requirements first, then crafting test cases, executing them, and, finally, manually documenting any found issues. Automated testing handles these steps using pre-set test scripts. Each method shines in specific testing situations. To objectively assess them, let’s examine their strengths and weaknesses:

Manual testing:

  • Real-life scenarios: Best emulates actual user interactions and environments;
  • Detailed UI review: Ensures the application is intuitive and visually appealing;
  • Flexibility: Easily adjusts to even minor changes in requirements;
  • Human element: Can introduce errors due to oversight;
  • Resource-intensive: Consumes more time and requires significant QA efforts;
  • Challenging to repeat: Test cases are manually conducted each time, relying heavily on the QA engineer.

Automated testing:

  • Efficiency for large projects: Executes predefined tests swiftly and independently;
  • Technical prowess: Detects issues related to data handling and system performance;
  • Test repeatability: Permits re-execution of identical test scenarios;
  • Transparency: Enables real-time test results monitoring by the entire team;
  • Initial cost: Investment needed for suitable tools or frameworks setup;
  • Limited user experience assessment: Cannot evaluate the user’s perception or satisfaction with the product.

In essence, manual testing offers a detailed and comprehensive approach, whereas automated testing excels at managing numerous tests swiftly. Preferences between manual testing vs. automation testing can vary, but we’ve compiled a brief guide below on when to favor one method over the other.

How Do You Prioritize Between Manual and Automation Testing?

So, how do you prioritize between manual vs. automated testing? In a nutshell, for tasks that require subjective validation, like user interface and experience testing, it’s better to choose manual testing:

  • Usability testing: The hands-on experience of testers offers genuine insights into a product’s usability and design;
  • Ad-hoc testing: Humans are inherently better at crafting spontaneous test scenarios compared to rigid scripts;
  • Exploratory testing: The human touch, blending knowledge and creativity, often trumps systematic testing approaches.

Conversely, when it comes to frequent test reruns or evaluations emphasizing data and performance, automation tools take the lead:

  • Regression testing: Automated tools are efficient for recurrently testing code updates;
  • Load and performance testing: Even a small automated setup can emulate vast numbers of users and actions to gauge system robustness.

Moreover, the right automation tools can often meet a vast majority of your testing demands. Take the DogQ automation platform, for instance: it can streamline user-experience evaluations with e2e testing, automating manual processes. This transition provides almost instantaneous feedback to your QA team regarding recent alterations.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, when the project is concise with tight budgets, or when flexibility is a key factor,  like when testing the product UI, manual testing is the hero. Automated testing, meanwhile, is the choice for large-scale projects or when aiming to lighten the QA team’s load. By judiciously weighing your budget against project requirements and judiciously applying these testing approaches, you can strike a harmonious balance between automation vs. manual testing, ensuring the best resource allocation.

Should you seek expert advice on testing or have further queries, look no further. The DogQ team is on standby to demystify software testing paradigms for you. We’re ready to assist you in selecting the ideal automation solution tailored to your specific needs. Feel free to reach out, and explore the advanced capabilities of our no-code testing solution!

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