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Context Driven Testing | What it is, How to Do, and Examples

Context-driven testing is a software testing methodology that strongly emphasizes the context and unique requirements of a particular project. Unlike traditional testing methods, which follow rigid, one-size-fits-all protocols, context-driven testing is a flexible and adaptive approach that tailors testing strategies to the unique circumstances of each project.

Context-driven testing empowers testers to make informed decisions about what, when, and how to test, aligning their efforts with the project’s specific needs. This results in more accurate defect detection, better risk management, and improved software quality.

In this article, we will delve into the world of context-driven testing, exploring what it is, why it is invaluable, and how you can effectively implement it to improve the quality of your software products.

What is Context-Driven Testing? Explained with Example.

Context-driven testing is a dynamic and adaptable approach to software testing that tailors testing strategies to the unique circumstances of each project. Unlike traditional testing methodologies, which rely on predefined procedures and one-size-fits-all test cases, context-driven testing recognizes that each software project has its own specific context, risks, and objectives. To illustrate this concept, let’s explore a real-world example that highlights the essence of context-driven testing.

Example: E-commerce Checkout Process

Imagine you are tasked with testing the checkout process of an e-commerce website. In a traditional testing approach, you might create a fixed set of test cases that cover common scenarios like adding items to the cart, entering shipping and payment information, and completing the purchase. These test cases would be executed for every e-commerce project, regardless of its unique features or complexities.

Now, let’s apply the principles of context-driven testing to this scenario. Instead of relying solely on predefined test cases, a context-driven tester would first immerse themselves in the specifics of the project. They would consider factors such as the type of product (physical or digital), the target audience (B2B or B2C), the platform (web, mobile app, or both), and the regulatory requirements (e.g., GDPR compliance).

Based on this context, the tester would then tailor their testing approach. For instance, if the e-commerce website primarily sells digital products, a context-driven tester might focus more on the security of download links and the efficiency of digital delivery, while de-emphasizing physical shipping tests. Additionally, they might prioritize mobile app testing if a significant portion of the audience uses smartphones for shopping.

By aligning the testing approach with the project’s unique context and risks, context-driven testing ensures that the most critical aspects are thoroughly tested while avoiding unnecessary and time-consuming testing of irrelevant features. 

Why is Context-Driven Testing Important?

The importance of context-driven testing lies in its adaptability, precision, and efficiency, which collectively contributes to the improvement of software quality and the overall success of a project.

Traditional, one-size-fits-all testing methodologies often fall short when applied to projects with distinct contexts, requirements, and risks. Context-driven testing, on the other hand, acknowledges that what works for one project may not work for another, and it empowers testers to adjust their strategies accordingly.

For instance, when conducting tests on an e-commerce website, the focus might be on certain aspects such as website speed and shopping cart functionality, optimizing the customer’s online shopping experience. However, when it comes to testing a mobile app, particular attention should be directed towards factors that could impact App Store Optimization (ASO), including user experience, adaptability, and the potential risk of the app being obscured in the app store due to poor discoverability. This adaptability ensures that testing efforts are not wasted on irrelevant or unnecessary tests, resulting in a more efficient use of resources and a more comprehensive examination of critical project aspects.

Moreover, context-driven testing plays a crucial role in risk management. By taking into account the specific risks associated with a project, testers can prioritize their efforts on the areas that matter most. This approach enables them to identify and mitigate risks early in the development cycle, preventing potential issues from escalating into costly problems later on. Context-driven testing helps projects stay on track, and within budget and ensures that the final product aligns closely with the end users’ expectations.

Basic Principles of Context-Driven Testing

Emphasizing the Primacy of Context

The fundamental principle of context-driven testing is to recognize and prioritize the unique context of each software project. Instead of relying on predefined test plans and cases, context-driven testers immerse themselves in the specifics of the project. They consider factors such as the project’s objectives, audience, technology stack, and regulatory requirements. By placing context at the forefront, testers ensure that the testing approach aligns with the project’s distinct needs, thereby improving its overall quality.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Context-driven testing values flexibility and adaptability. Testers understand that the software development landscape is dynamic, with requirements and priorities evolving over time. This principle empowers testers to adjust their strategies as the project progresses and as new information becomes available. By remaining agile, context-driven testing helps detect and address issues more effectively, ensuring that the software remains aligned with the project’s goals and stakeholders’ expectations.

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is a core principle of context-driven testing. Testers actively explore the software, using their domain knowledge and creativity to uncover defects and issues that may not be apparent through scripted tests alone. This approach is particularly valuable when the requirements are unclear or when the software is in a state of flux. Exploratory testing allows testers to identify unexpected problems and provide rapid feedback, contributing to the overall quality of the project.

Continuous Learning and Improvement

Context-driven testers understand that learning is an ongoing process. They are committed to improving their skills, understanding of different contexts, and testing techniques. This principle promotes a culture of continuous learning and self-improvement, ensuring that testers are better equipped to adapt to changing project requirements and technology trends. As they gain experience, testers become more effective in providing valuable insights and enhancing the quality of the software they test.

How to Perform Context-Driven Testing?

Context-driven testing is a flexible and dynamic process that requires careful consideration of the project’s unique context at every stage. Overall, context-driven testing can be divided into two major approaches – Manual and Automated context-driven testing.

Manual Context-Driven Testing

In the manual context-driven testing approach, the testers leverage their expertise and adaptability to evaluate software applications. Testers immerse themselves in the project’s unique context, identifying critical test scenarios, and executing test cases based on the current project conditions, objectives, and risks. 

Manual testers perform exploratory testing, actively exploring the software, using their domain knowledge and creativity to uncover defects that scripted tests may overlook. This approach is especially valuable in situations where requirements are ambiguous, and the software is subject to frequent changes, as it allows testers to provide quick feedback and maintain a flexible testing process.

Automated Context-Driven Testing

On the other hand, automated context-driven testing involves the use of automated testing tools and scripts to perform tests that are tailored to the specific context of a software project. Testers create and maintain test scripts that can be adjusted and customized based on the evolving needs of the project. 

Automation can significantly increase testing efficiency by executing repetitive and data-intensive tests more quickly and consistently. Automated context-driven testing still requires a deep understanding of the project’s context and objectives to design and adapt the test scripts effectively, ensuring that the automated tests remain relevant and aligned with the project’s unique requirements. To leverage the power of automation, you must check out Testigma – an AI-powered automated testing tool.

Automate your context-driven tests for web, mobile, desktop applications and APIs, 5x faster with Testsigma

Here are a few general steps that can act as a framework for any type of context-driven testing. While the steps below provide a framework, the specifics of how to perform context-driven testing will vary from one project to another.

  1. Gather Project Context Information:
  • Begin by collecting detailed information about the project, including its objectives, audience, industry regulations, and technology stack.
  • Identify key stakeholders, and understand their expectations and priorities for the software.
  1. Define Test Objectives:
  • Determine the specific testing objectives based on the gathered context information.
  • Prioritize testing goals according to the critical features, functionalities, and risks associated with the project.
  1. Select Testing Techniques:

Choose the most appropriate testing techniques that align with the project’s context. This may include:

  • Exploratory testing for uncovering unexpected issues.
  • Risk-based testing to focus on high-priority areas.
  • Scenario-based testing to replicate real-world usage.
  • Usability testing to ensure a positive user experience.
  1. Plan and Design Test Cases:
  • Create test cases that are tailored to the project’s specific context and objectives.
  • Ensure that test cases cover critical functionalities, edge cases, and potential risks.
  • If using automation, develop test scripts that can be easily adapted as context changes.

To create test cases seamlessly, Testsigma provides a no-code AI-powered platform. You can easily create your test cases in simple natural English language. For example, suppose you want to create an automated test case for web testing of a login page. Here are the steps you can create in testsigma in minutes.

  1. Navigate to Simply Travel login page(https://travel.testsigma.com/login).
  2. Enter username as ‘admin’ in the User Name field.
  3. Enter the password as ‘12345’ in the Password field.
  4. Click on the login button.
Book ticket online

You can also easily enter your test data in the test steps.

test data

Testsigma Step Recorder chrome extension also lets you generate automated test scripts from a series of manual actions you take to play out a test scenario. The automated test scripts can then be run on all the available Web Browsers.

test case
  1. Execute Tests:
  • Manually execute test cases, making detailed observations of the results.
  • For automation, run test scripts in the chosen testing environment.
  • Document defects, issues, and areas where the software behaves differently from expectations.

You can create a test plan in Testsigma. A test plan is a set of test suites. When a test plan is executed, the test suites and their corresponding test cases are executed, either serially or parallelly, as configured.

test plan

Testsigma has more than 3000+ combinations of browsers, OS, and platforms hosted on the Cloud that you can access anywhere and run your tests on. This makes cross-browser and platform testing seamless.

perform_adhoc.gif

  1. Adapt and Iterate:
  • Continuously monitor the project’s context and adjust the testing approach accordingly.
  • Prioritize testing efforts based on changing requirements, risks, and user feedback.
  • Iteratively refine and enhance test cases as the project evolves.

With Testsigma, you can run your test cases even in debug mode.

Debugger
  1. Document and Report Findings:
  • Maintain comprehensive records of test cases, test results, and issues discovered during testing.
  • Create detailed test reports with screenshots and descriptions of defects.
  • Share findings with stakeholders, and collaborate on resolutions.

Here’s what a test run dashboard looks like in Testsigma.

Dashboard
  1. Regression Testing:
  • Conduct regular regression testing to ensure that new changes or features do not introduce unintended side effects.
  • Adapt regression test suites based on the evolving project context.
  1. Feedback Loop:
  • Establish a feedback loop with development teams to ensure that issues are addressed promptly.
  • Collaborate to refine requirements and address context-specific challenges.



Best Practices for Performing Context-Driven Testing

Here are a few best practices that you can leverage to perform context-driven testing.

  • Emphasize Context Over Predefined Test Plans: Prioritize the project’s unique context over standardized test plans.
  • Use Exploratory Testing Techniques: Actively explore the software based on emerging findings.
  • Adapt Testing Strategies Continuously: Adjust testing strategies in response to changing project conditions.
  • Utilize Risk-Based Testing: Identify and prioritize testing based on project-specific risks.
  • Leverage Contextual Data: Use context-specific data to create effective test cases.
  • Adapt Automation Scripts: Ensure automated tests are easily adaptable to changing project contexts.
  • Consider Environmental Variability: Account for variations in the testing environment that may affect context.
  • Regularly Update Test Documentation: Keep test documentation current to reflect the evolving project context.

Conclusion

To sum up, the context-driven testing approach has shifted the paradigm from rigid, one-size-fits-all methodologies to a more flexible, context-centric testing framework. By embracing the unique context of each project, context-driven testing empowers testers to make informed decisions, prioritize efficiently, and uncover critical issues that may otherwise go unnoticed. In a world where software is developed at an unprecedented pace, the principles and best practices of context-driven testing pave the way for more efficient, adaptable, and effective testing processes, ultimately leading to better software quality and customer satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between exploratory testing and context-driven testing?

Exploratory testing and context-driven testing are related but distinct approaches to software testing. Exploratory testing is a testing technique where testers actively explore the software without predefined test cases, using their domain knowledge and creativity to uncover defects. It can be a part of context-driven testing, but it is not exclusive to it. Context-driven testing, on the other hand, is a comprehensive testing methodology that considers the entire testing process, from planning to execution, in the context of the project’s unique requirements, risks, and objectives.

Check out this guide on the different types of software testing.

What is context-dependent testing?

Context-dependent testing is not a widely recognized term in software testing but could refer to a testing approach where test cases and strategies are highly dependent on the specific context of the project, similar to context-driven testing. In context-dependent testing, the testing process is not bound by rigid, predefined procedures but rather adapts to the unique conditions of the project. Testers focus on the aspects that matter most in that particular context, emphasizing flexibility and adaptability. The goal is to optimize testing efforts and deliver software of high quality that aligns with the specific needs of the project.


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