What kind of Testing is Important in Responsive Design?
By Praveen Kumar, Community Contributor - November 11, 2022
Responsive web designing has made work significantly easier for developers and engineers. When websites and apps were created a bit over ten years ago, no one even thought of mobile web applications. Good screens were at best if they were full HD, and very rarely would people use something like 24 inches or 27 inches screen size.
Today, the situation is much different. There is a whole range of handheld devices; most have higher resolution when compared to what was there a few years ago.
Device screens have evolved, and resolutions have increased. This all comes with a new set of possibilities but also a new set of problems that developers and testers need to solve. The more the device fragmentation increases so does the need to create a responsive web design that will render properly on different resolutions.
But, most often, the responsive design code that is meant to work on all possible screen sizes, doesn’t always work as intended. This could be due to various reasons, such as browser settings/updates, changes in the viewport, etc.
The only solution to overcome this is Responsive web testing.
Responsive Web Design Testing: What Is It?
Responsive design aims to provide a good user experience by ensuring that a website’s design, functionalities, and usability adapt to various screen sizes and functions fully, irrespective of the screen size/viewport it is accessed on.
However, with the growing number of devices, browsers, and operating systems, inconsistencies are bound to arise. This problem is referred to as fragmentation. So it’s essential to choose the browser-device combinations that you want to test.
How to Choose the Right Browser-Device Combinations
Today, there are over 140 mobile phone brands globally, that people can use to access a website. If you add laptops, desktops, tablets, etc. to the mix, the device-browser combination becomes too large. Testing on all the possible screen sizes, and browser-device combinations is not easy, at least not with limited resources in a testing team. So, it’s extremely important to come up with a responsive web design testing strategy to meet your testing goals.
The goal of a responsive web design testing strategy is simple: test for the maximum possible number of viewports and viewport-browser-device combinations. To do this, find out where your maximum traffic comes from. Then you need to come up with a list of the right devices to test your app or website on.
Responsive Design Testing Checklist: Essential Web Design Tests
Most responsive design tests start with visual testing. This testing ensures that the UI of the app/website looks the same across devices and browsers. For example, the color of a banner on an Android app may look different across various Samsung mobile phones, possibly due to differences in color codes. Similarly, the color of a CTA button may look a shade darker on a mobile phone than on an Ipad.
Good Read: 13 CTA Design Examples to Boost Conversions
Visual testing ensures that such inconsistencies are resolved before an app/website is made public. Minor visual differences don’t affect much, but inconsistencies in branding assets, including brand logo, font, etc. often cause trust issues among users; thereby compromising user adoption. Hence, visual testing is important.
Visual testing is often the first step in responsive design testing. Testers take the intended UI design of the app/website and compare the look and feel across various screen-device-OS combinations. It is often performed manually, which makes the entire process cumbersome as minute changes are hard to catch with the naked eye. Automated visual tests are more prominent in the testing community. But, there are a few things that one must look for while selecting a visual testing tool.
- Device and Browser Support
- Automated testing
- Integrations and Supported Framework
- Snapshot Stabilization
Percy checks all the above checkboxes and allows you to perform visual testing like a breeze.
- Content: Content should be easily readable. In responsive web design, font resizes to adapt to the screen size.
- Images: Images have a fixed resolution. So, they often pixelate when they are scaled to higher screen sizes. Responsive design takes this into account and offers a way to store images for different screen sizes. Developers often store images in multiple sizes, which are accessible on their corresponding screen sizes.
- Navigation menu: Navigation menu helps users navigate around websites easily. In small screen sizes, the navigation menu sometimes takes too much space and hides other elements behind it. A responsive navigation menu adapts its size; it reduces to a hamburger icon or sandwich icon and expands when a user clicks on it.
- Tables: Tables on small screen sizes often break and overlap with other elements of the design. Responsive tables can adapt to fit the screen size and are easy to read.
- Clickability – Ensure that buttons (especially CTAs) are easily clickable and do not overlap with other elements on the website.
- Orientation: Mobile users frequently use their cell phones to access websites and apps. So, a design must be seamless horizontally too. Smooth vertical and horizontal scrolls ensure a good user experience.
Natural Gestures Testing
The common hand gestures such as pinch in, pinch out, tap, scroll, etc. are intuitive. A study reports that kids learn these gestures of using phones before they learn verbal communication. So, it’s essential to perform gesture tests to check the response of websites against common natural gestures.
Website Speed Testing
The speed at which your website loads on a particular device-browser combination can have an immense impact on conversions. According to a Deloitte 2019 report, a 0.1% increase in website speed, increased conversions significantly for websites.
Tools to check website speed:
- PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that can be used to test website loading speed. Google Search Console is another free tool where you can get insights about the Core Web Vitals (CVW) of a website. These tools however have limited capabilities. For instance, PageSpeed tests are made generally on a selective browser-device-network combination.
- BrowserStack’s SpeedLab tool gives you insights about website speed and Core Web Vitals. It further expands the scope of website speed testing by allowing testing on 3000+ browsers and devices, and various networks, including Edge, 2G, 3G, 4G, and others.
Accessibility testing allows test engineers to ensure that their website is accessible to visually impaired users.
Mobile phones and other hand-held devices are increasingly becoming an essential need. According to a Deloitte report, developed countries have nearly 90% mobile phone penetration, while 80% of their population own a smartphone. A significant portion of this population is differently abled, which requires web developers to make their websites accessible to the visually impaired population as well.
A responsive web design ensures that a website adapts to the screen size of the device on which it is accessed. However, due to changes in browser settings, mobile software updates, coding errors, etc. a website may not respond the way it is intended to on certain devices. This may result in a bad user experience, leading to lower adoption of the website or conversions.
To overcome this problem, responsive web design testing is carried out. It helps reduce churn and improve engagement.