Let me start off by giving you a quick description of what each method of testing is for those of you that are not familiar with this area. Manual testing is, as you can guess, manually testing software / code but in our case, sites for bugs or poor functionality. A tester will adopt the mind of an end user to test the system to make sure everything is working correctly. Automated testing is the opposite, you set up external software to run the tests for you, after they are executed you will be given a bunch of results which will identify where the bugs are.
Each tester has their preference. There are advantages and disadvantages to every method of testing, so there is no right or wrong answer to which is best. Depending on what you want to test and how you want to test it is how you will decide which is best.
Manual testing is useful in many ways. If you are short on time and need to quickly check something simple on the site or important functionality, it is easier to test it yourself. Manual testing will allow you to see the problems first, and if you are testing high priority work then you will want to know if there is a problem as soon as possible. This will save the time of waiting for the automated tests to find the problem for you. There is complete flexibility when manual testing, you may want to test something immediately and not have the fuss of setting automated tests up and waiting for them to run. Manual testing will give you this.
Now if you have a big project which requires you to test every nook and cranny of a site, you may not want to consider manual testing, save a bit of time and go automated. Building the tests may take some time but once you have them up and running, you can run this as many times as you want and however often you desire. The best thing about it is that when you do run the tests, you get presented with a list of the discovered issues or failures. Doesn’t that make life just so much easier?! Then you can go pass these onto a developer and relax until you need to run the test again. You can’t reuse manual tests but you can automated!
Make sure you know the limitations. Automated testing is brilliant in so many ways, there are however some drawbacks and manual testing takes over again. There are endless amounts of automated software capabilities out there which can aid you in a variety of ways to fulfill your testing needs. They’re not going to cover everything! There will be cases I can guarantee, whereby the software will limit you, and you will be required to test manually. This is fine, it’s reality. Just make sure you pick a software which you can get the most out of and applies directly to what you need it for.
You may find that you like one method more than the other. But in reality you need a bit of both to maximise your bug finding quest! Manual testing can either save or lose you time but it’s still important that you are familiar with the site and test it yourself. Automated testing will help you cut time in the long run but lose you in the short. The question you have to ask is not ‘Which method is better?’ because there isn’t an answer, the question you have to ask is ‘How do I use these methods to benefit my testing and minimise the bugs?’