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User interface (UI) testing is an important element of the software testing cycle. To validate whether applications have the desired functionalities and that they are user-friendly, QA professionals should test all interface components. This not only improves the software quality but also ensures end users are comfortable when using the application.
In this comprehensive guide, we address everything you need to know about UI testing, from the fundamental concepts of UI testing to how you can perform an effective UI test. Towards the end, we will dive into the challenges encountered in UI testing and provide practical solutions. Read long or skip ahead to the part that interests you most.
UI testing is a technique for testing the features of any software that a user will interact with. This usually involves testing the visual components to ensure that they are meeting the outlined requirements - both in terms of functionality and performance.
It involves testing all visual indicators and graphical icons, including menus, radio buttons, text boxes, checkboxes, toolbars, colors, fonts, and more.
UI testing is performed manually or with an automated testing tool. Regardless of the method used, the goal is to ensure all UI elements meet the requested specifications.
The main aspects checked in UI testing include:
UI testing is centered around two main things. First, checking how the application handles user actions carried out using the keyboard, mouse, and other input devices. Second, checking whether visual elements are displayed and working correctly.
It is only by doing this that organizations can ensure that applications meet their functional requirements and that end-users will successfully adopt them. For this reason, UI testing plays a significant role before an application is released to production.
Like most types of software testing, the scope of GUI testing can be very broad. In this section, we put together essential test cases that can help QA professionals test their interfaces thoroughly. The test cases cover different UI aspects, including images, color standards, page content, navigation, usability, and more. Use this checklist to ensure your UI tests are more exhaustive.
In addition to testing these individual elements, it’s also beneficial to do UI testing to verify your most critical end-to-end processes. Since this is where your users will interact most often with your application, you will also see the most ROI from doing this type of UI testing.
When dealing with end-to-end testing, your UI test cases are a lot more likely to address your organization’s top pain points. One major example of an end-to-end process that can benefit from UI testing is processing credit card payments. In the eCommerce industry, in particular, making sure that your application can take all of the necessary steps to accept and verify a valid transaction is absolutely imperative. Not only will testing processes like these confirm that the code is working properly, but it will also have a major impact on the entire business.
There are three main GUI testing approaches, namely:
In manual testing, a human tester performs a set of operations to check whether the application is functioning correctly and that the graphical elements conform to the documented requirements. Manual-based testing has notable downsides in that it can be time-consuming, and the test coverage is extremely low. Additionally, the quality of testing in this approach depends on the knowledge and capabilities of the testing team.
Also known as record-and-replay testing, it is executed using automation tools. The automated UI testing tool records all tasks, actions, and interactions with the application. The recorded steps are then reproduced, executed, and compared with the expected behavior. For further testing, the replay phase can be repeated with various data sets.
In this testing approach, we focus on building graphical models that describe the behavior of a system. This provides a deeper understanding of the system, which allows the tester to generate highly efficient test cases. In the models, we determine the inputs and outputs of the system, which are in turn, used to run the tests. Model-based testing works as follows:
The model-based approach is great because it allows a higher level of automation. It also covers a higher number of states in the system, thereby improving the test coverage.
When performing a UI test, the QA team needs to prepare a test plan that identifies the areas of an application that should be tested as well as the testing resources available. With this information, testers can now define the test scenarios, create test cases, and write the test scripts.
A test scenario is a document that highlights how the application under test will be used in real life. A simple test scenario in most applications would be, “users will successfully sign in with a valid username or ID and password” In this scenario, we can have test cases for multiple GUI events. This includes when a user:
Although scenarios are not required when creating UI test cases, they guide their development. Basically, they serve as the base from which test cases and test scripts are developed as shown below:
There are many things taken into consideration when testing a user interface. Let’s consider this Google sign-up form as an example.
Using the above form, we identify 13 test cases, labeled TC-1 to TC-13. At the very least, we should perform the following UI checks:
Software testers face a number of issues when performing UI tests. Some of the most notable challenges include:
Here are some practical tips that can help you overcome the above UI testing challenges.
The first step when resolving software testing challenges is choosing the right automation tool. There are various testing tools in the market that you can use for your project. However, focus on choosing one that integrates seamlessly with your workflow. A great UI automation tool has record/playback capabilities, supports reusable tests, and requires minimal maintenance. It also supports reporting and has defect tracking capabilities.
One approach for reducing test maintenance and the associated costs is using a shared repository. It is also a great idea to reduce the number of UI test cases during the initial testing stages, then increase the coverage as you move forward. This ensures a higher success rate in your test cases.
To eliminate the trouble of making repetitive changes in the test code, developers and QA teams should leverage the power of codeless automation. If you’re a Selenium fan, for instance, Perfecto Scriptless will automate your entire test creation and execution process, thereby saving you a great deal of time and cost.
The coding culture of an enterprise has a significant impact on how well their teams address testing challenges in the application development cycle. For this reason, organizations should focus on training their teams on the best test automation practices, so there are specific criteria for code review or modifications across the enterprise. A good approach would be engaging test automation experts in some intense brainstorming sessions.
UI testing is an essential driver for improved user experience and customer satisfaction. Most end-users will not care how well your code works or how clean it is. Although they benefit from high code quality, they are more concerned about what they can practically see and touch.
As such, testers should ensure their application’s interface is easy to use and navigate, looks great across all browsers and devices, and most importantly, it works correctly.
The only way to achieve this is by integrating comprehensive UI tests in your development process.
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