ui testing
April 22, 2020

UI Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

Scriptless Testing
  1. What Is UI Testing?
  2. The Need for UI Testing
  3. UI Testing Checklist: Essential Test Cases
  4. Approaches to UI Testing
  5. UI Testing Scenarios
  6. Demo: A Practical UI Test
  7. Challenges in UI Testing
  8. How to Overcome Common UI Testing Challenges


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.

What Is UI Testing?

User interface or UI testing, also known as GUI testing, is the process of testing the visual elements of an application to validate whether they accurately meet the expected performance and functionality. By testing the GUI, testers can validate that UI functions are free from defects.

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:

  • Visual Design
  • Functionality
  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Compliance

The Need for UI Testing

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.

UI Testing Checklist: Essential Test Cases

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.

  • Data type errors – Ensure only valid data can be entered for specific data types such as currency and dates.
  • Field widths – If a certain text box permits a specified amount of characters, then make it clear on the user interface that the data entered shouldn’t exceed the character limit. ( For instance, a field that allows 50 characters in the application’s database should not allow users to enter more than 50 characters on the interface).
  • Navigational elements – Verify all navigational buttons on the page are working correctly, and that they redirect users to the right page or screen.
  • Progress bars – When displaying screens that take time to render results, a progress bar should be used to show the user that a process is still running.
  • Type-ahead – If your UI uses drop-down lists, ensure you include type ahead. In a drop-down menu with hundreds of items, typing the first letter should skip the list to items beginning with that letter such that users will not have to check through a long list.
  • Table scrolling – If data in your tables extends to another page, then the scroll function should allow users to scroll the data but keep all headers intact.
  • Error logging – When the system experiences a fatal error, ensure the application writes the error details to an event viewer or log file for later review.
  • Menu items – Ensure the application only displays valid menu items that are available at a particular state.
  • Working shortcuts – For applications that support shortcuts, verify whether they work correctly, no matter the browser, platform, or device being used.
  • Confirm action buttons – Ensure the UI has working confirm button every time the user wants to save or delete an item

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.

Approaches to UI Testing

There are three main GUI testing approaches, namely:

1. Manual Testing

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.

2. Record-and-Playback Testing

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.

3. Model-Based Testing

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:

  • Create a model for the system
  • Determine system inputs
  • Verify the expected output
  • Execute tests
  • Check and validate system output vs. the expected output

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.

UI Testing Scenarios

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.

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:

  • Provides a valid username and password combination
  • Enters an invalid username
  • Enters a valid username but an invalid password
  • Forgets and tries to reset the password
  • Tries to copy a password from the password field
  • Tries to copy a password to the password field
  • Hits the help button

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:

Testing Scenarios

Demo: A Practical UI Test

There are many things taken into consideration when testing a user interface. Let’s consider this Google sign-up form as an example.

A Practical UI Test

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:


  • Check the page label, position, and font.


  • Validate whether the page heading is correct.
  • Check the font used.


  • Check the cursor focus on the default field.
  • Test the mandatory fields by clicking next while the form is blank.
  • Check the position and alignment of the text box.
  • Check the acceptance of both valid and invalid characters in the field labels.


  • Check the position and alignment of the text box.
  • Check field labels, validate the acceptance of both valid and invalid characters.


  • Check the position and alignment of the text box.
  • Check field labels, validate the acceptance of both valid and invalid characters.


  • Test the error message by entering both permitted and prohibited characters.
  • Verify error message correctness.


  • Test pop-ups and hyperlinks.


  • Check field labels, validate the acceptance of both valid and invalid characters.
  • Check the position and alignment of the text box.


  • Save an unmatched password.
  • Check field labels, validate the acceptance of both valid and invalid characters.
  • Check the position and alignment of the text box.


  • Verify icon position.
  • Test the icon shows or hides the user password.
  • Check the image quality.


  • Test the error message by entering both permitted and prohibited characters.
  • Verify error message correctness.


  • Test pop-ups and hyperlinks.


  • Test form submission.
  • Check button position and clarity.

Challenges in UI Testing

Software testers face a number of issues when performing UI tests. Some of the most notable challenges include:

  • Constantly changing UI – It is common to upgrade applications constantly to accommodate new features and functionalities. When upgrades are made frequently, performing comprehensive UI tests becomes a challenge.
  • Increasing testing complexity – Modern applications have significantly complex features including embedded frames, complex flowcharts, maps, diagrams, and other web elements. This makes UI tests to become more challenging.
  • UI tests can be time-consuming – creating effective UI test scripts and executing the tests can take time especially when a tester is not using the right tool.
  • Maintaining UI test scripts – As developers make changes to the user interface, it becomes challenging to maintain the test scripts.
  • Handling multiple errors – When performing complex UI tests under tight timelines, testers spend a lot of time creating scripts. In such scenarios, fixing errors during the testing process becomes a challenge.
  • Computing the ROI for UI test automation – Since the UI keeps changing, so do the tests change. This increases the amount of time spent on UI testing, thereby delaying the delivery process. In the end, it becomes difficult to calculate the ROI for continuously performing UI tests.

How to Overcome Common UI Testing Challenges

Here are some practical tips that can help you overcome the above UI testing challenges.

1. Select the right UI test automation tool

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.

2. Utilize an object repository

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.

3. Choose codeless automation testing tools

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.

4. Organizational code review standards

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.

Final Word

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.

Streamline Your UI Automation With Perfecto Scriptless

Want to start or streamline your UI automation tests? Explore Perfecto Scriptless, the codeless UI test automation tool for web apps. 

Explore Perfecto Scriptless