Automated vs. Manual User Testing – when to choose what?

automated vs manual testing

As a Quality Assurance Manager, you’re fighting daily with testing websites or software during the build process, as well as after launch.

With this comparison between automated vs. manual testing, we want to help you to make a quicker decision what to use. The current trend in everything becoming more automated, that goes for software and website app testing too.

But when is it better to use automated testing versus manual testing?

Is manual still better to use in some situations? Let’s take a look.

What Is Automated Testing?

Testing and Feedback

Automated testing is simply when you and your Quality Assurance team use scripted tests that have been prewritten and run automatically.

When you run an automated test, it automatically compares the actual results with the expected results. This helps to provide an answer as to whether the application or software is working as expected.

One of the best things about automated testing is that it can mimic tasks that your QA team performs regularly on a repetitive basis. The computer gets never bored of repeating a task ?.

Testing each unit of your digital product regularly allows for a more rapid build of quality software, websites and products.

So, when is automated testing right for you?

As with anything, there are ups and downs to look at with automated testing. This form of testing, versus manual testing, can still be the smartest solution for certain situations and types of projects.


  • It helps you to save time

Utilizing automated testing allows your team to complete test execution in less amount of time.

  • For when you have a limited amount of resources

Manual testing requires more people and more time. Automated testing reduces the need for both of these valuable resources.

This allows for plenty of people who are able to provide a great customer experience both during the sales cycle and afterwards in a customer support role.

  • When you want to eliminate human error

Your employees, specifically your QA team, are human and humans make mistakes. Automatic tests completely eliminate the threat of human error and allow for the creation of more reliable code.


But of course, there are also some limiting factors for automated testing.

  • Might result in higher costs for testing tools

The tools to run automation testing can be expensive, which may increase the cost of the testing project. So it may not be the best choice, especially if it is a short-term or small project.

  • Doesn’t makes sense for exploratory or random testing

An automated test does what you tell it to do. And it will stick to it no matter what. There is no way to find out errors or bugs that are not defined by your testing scenario.

  • Automated Test are not able see like humans (yet)

Thankfully humans are not replaceable by computer programs (yet). Your automated tests will not be able to find UX flaws or Design issues that only can be seen by a human eye.

Scenarios in which you want to use automated testing

Overall, automated testing provides a great timesaving solution. There are some instances where automated testing should be essential and manual testing completely taken out of the equation.

Let’s take a look at some of these situations:

What Is Manual Testing?

manual testing

In this process, the software testers and quality assurance experts execute the test cases and generate the test reports by hand.

Thus, manual testing is generally conducted by an experienced tester to accomplish the software testing process.

The upside is, that your testers do not need to have coding knowledge with manual testing. Even with all of the automation available, manual testing should not be underestimated.

In fact, you have to test software manually before you can set up and run automated testing.

Automation is simply not possible without a strong foundation built on initial manual testing. Manual testing requires more time & effort initially, but it can definitely help pay off over time.

The most important part of manual testing is that it allows for real-life scenario testing, often following conditions that are written in test cases.

This provides the opportunity to uncover bugs or display issues that automated tests simply can’t filter and catch.

Manual testing – what are the pros & cons?

As you may have gathered by now, there are still many pros to manual testing. This can be the perfect solution for certain instances, like testing the application for the first time and preparing to set up automation.

Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of manual testing.


  • Allows For Accurate Setup Of Automated Testing

Manual testing allows and ensures the proper setup of automation testing. You can’t automate until you know what kinds of things you will be regularly looking for within your applications or software.

  • No Advanced Programming Needed

Unlike automated testing, there is no need for advanced programming in manual testing. All of your QA experts can immediately pick up a test case and follow the list of items needed.

  • Ensures that the Visual Presentation Is As Expected.

As mentioned, there are some tests that should be performed manually no matter what. Automated tests can’t see what a page looks like visually after an action is taken, etc.

This especially relates to tests that focus on user interfaces and usability.

  • Great For After Small Updates

While testing a small change, an automation test would require backend coding which is usually time-consuming.

Manual testing allows you to test these small things on the fly.

[Tweet “Thankfully, humans are not replaceable by computer programs (yet) – that’s why you also need manual testing.”]


But like everything, it also has some down sights.

  • Human Error Is Present

Because humans are the ones performing the manual testing there is room for human error. Unfortunately, it is something that is unavoidable in manual testing.

  • More Time & More People Are Needed

While automated testing is something you can set up and let it run in the background, manual testing is not.

It usually involves a significant amount of resources to test your software thoroughly.

However, there are ways to outsource manual testing, like crowd testing or testing platforms.

  • If not properly reported the feedback is invaluable

Manual testing needs to have a precise process. This will help your development team reproduce bugs and find the errors behind the reported bug.

This used to be a very time-consuming process as you would need to teach your testers what and how to report bugs.

A tool you shouldn’t miss when you do manual testing

We at Usersnap created a solution that will provide you with accurate bug reports & can be used by everyone.

Your QA Team, your users & even your grandmother will be able to report bugs.

Usersnap helps you too effectively optimize manual testing and bug reporting to help save time, human resources, reduce development, and increase testing accuracy.

With visual feedback on your website and web applications, you can make your testing process much shorter.

Your testers or users can submit a screenshot with any additional tool. This issue is collected in the bug tracking dashboard or can be forwarded to your existing issue tools like Jira, Trello, Basecamp, etc.

“Usersnap makes things super simple and with the Jira Integration, it makes it an invaluable service! I definitely recommend using Usersnap!”

Sunil from WikiReviews

Check out the full list of integrations here  & Get your free 15-Day Usersnap trial today.

The best use cases for manual testing

There are some instances, even in this world of growing automation, where manually testing makes the most sense. In these scenarios, automated testing would cost more money and more resources.

Let’s take a look:

[otw_is sidebar=otw-sidebar-3]

How To Determine Which Is Best For You?

We created a checklist which should help you to determine which testing is best for your project. Take a look at this checklist to see if automated or manual testing would work better for your current software or product.

Circle your answer to each question in a line (one answer, YES or NO).

Total up the number of answers for the automated column and the manual column. The largest total will more than likely be the best testing method for you now:

Automated vs. Manual Testing Checklist
Click to enlarge

Wrapping It Up

There is no one size fits all solution available for software and website testing. Sometimes manual testing makes more sense over automated testing. Automated testing can often save a lot of time and manpower compared to manual testing.

If you learn how to balance both and utilize each method in its appropriate situation, you will end of saving time, resources, and future headaches.

Automated and manual testing each have good pros and somewhat aggravating cons.

An important thing to take away is that no matter how great and comprehensive automated tests are, it is impossible to automate everything.

Manual testing plays a vital role in software development and is a useful key whenever the process cannot be automated.

We want to hear from you! How have you or your team implemented manual or automated testing? How has this helped your efficiency and costs? Write us, tweet us, send us letters. We want to hear from you!

Make Feedback Matter.

Capture user feedback easily. Get more insights and make confident product decisions.

Microsurveys by Usersnap

Getting feedback has never been easier and we hope you’ve realized that after reading this article. Let us know what you think, your feedback is important.

And if you’re ready to try out a customer feedback software, Usersnap offers a free trial. Sign up today or book a demo with our feedback specialists.