Home Guide UI Testing: A Detailed Guide

UI Testing: A Detailed Guide

Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

The term “User Interface” speaks for itself: it is the part of a website or app that users interact with. Naturally, the quality of the user interface decides the user’s first (and last) impression of a website or app. UI design and functionality make or break the software, which is why developers and testers have increasingly focused on UI testing (User Interface Testing) as an important part of the development blueprint. 

Think of UI as anything that an end-user will interact with when using a piece of software. Let’s say a user opens Spotify and clicks on the Search option. Every action the user performs on the software is done on its user interface.

As each website or app deals with increasing numbers of competitors in their field, the standards for user experience keeps rising. UI testing is necessary to meet these standards by ensuring that every feature works as expected. UI testing is also used to ascertain if the visual and auditory aspects of the website or app are pleasing and capable of keeping the user interested. 

The article provides a detailed guide into UI testing, especially for beginners. Learn what UI testing is, why it is important, and how to implement it into testing setups. 

What is UI Testing?

UI Testing, also known as GUI Testing is basically a mechanism meant to test the aspects of any software that a user will come into contact with. This usually means testing the visual elements to verify that they are functioning according to requirements – in terms of functionality and performance. UI testing ensures that UI functions are bug-free.

Websites comprise web elements created with CSS, JavaScript, and numerous other programming languages.  UI testing performs tests and assertions of these elements to validate their efficacy. It is focused on examining visual and structural parts of the software i.e. parts the user would be concerned with, rather than the internal logic of the software.

UI Testing covers the gamut of visual indicators and graphic-based icons –  toolbars, fonts, menus, text boxes, radio buttons, checkboxes, colors, and more.

Some of the features included in UI test suites include:

  • Functionality
  • Visual Design
  • Performance
  • Usability
  • Compliance

The Scope of UI Testing

Here are a few essential test cases that UI tests tend to verify:

  • Data type errors: The test checks that only valid data can be entered for certain data fields such as dates, currency, etc.
  • Field widths: The test checks that certain text fields do not allow the user to place inputs over a specific character limit. 
  • Navigational elements: The test checks that all navigational buttons on a page are working, and that they redirect users to the right page.
  • Progress bars: The test checks that when displaying pages or screens that take time to load completely, a progress bar appears to let the user know that the page is loading.
  • Type-ahead: If the UI uses drop-down lists, type-ahead is required. In a drop-down menu with multiple options, the user should be able to find the right one by typing the first letter. Making the user go through a long list constitutes unfavorable user experience.
  • Table scrolling:  If the website has data tables, and if the table extends into a second page, then the user should be able to scroll through all the data while keeping the headers visible and in place.
  • Error Logging: This test checks that in case of a system error, the software records error details to a log file so that it can be reviewed later.
  • Menu Items: The test checks that the software displays only the menu available in its particular geographical location (if that is applicable).
  • Working shortcuts: If the software supports shortcuts, this test validates that each of them works as expected across multiple browsers, platforms, and devices.

In addition to these tests, it is recommended to run UI tests on the significant end-to-end user processes. For example, run UI tests on the user action involved in this process: log in> add items to cart > view cart > make payment > enter delivery address > buy now.

Since this is a common user journey through an e-commerce website, testers must ensure that it can be accomplished without any interruptions or failures. Otherwise, the website will likely lose out on revenue and traffic. 

UI Testing Approaches – Manual or Automated?

UI tests can be conducted manually or they may be automated. Testers can make a choice between either technique or implement both, depending on the nature of the application as well as the team itself. 

  • Manual Testing: In this case, a tester manually uses all the features of the website or app to check for any discrepancies. This makes sense when the software has a limited number of UI elements, which is usually the case in initial versions of a website or app. However, given the tech-savvy user base of our times, most expect software with rich, layered user interfaces with hundreds, perhaps thousands of UI elements that require verification.

    This makes manual testing inefficient, time-consuming, and prone to human error. For example, imagine how many times a user has to manually input information into a page with more than 10 input fields if the page has to be tested with multiple sets of values.

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  • Automated Testing: The advantages of automated testing are obvious. Tests are completed faster, which is a necessity in an industry where users expect top-notch software at lightning speed. Automated Selenium testing allows software to be put through multiple test scenarios, and for the same tests to be run repeatedly (with different variables, if necessary) quickly and correctly.

    Additionally, automated tests are not prone to human error and exhaustion. As long as test scripts are written correctly and the right tools are in place, test results will be accurate. Test automation frameworks are also often set up to automatically record results and share them with the team once tests are completed. In the case of manual testing, the team has to not just complete the tests themselves, but extract results, place them in reports and share them with the right people themselves. Again, this becomes a demand on their time and effort. Automated Selenium testing is usually the best and most convenient option for UI testing. This is especially true of cross-browser testing. UI tests need to be performed on multiple browser-device-OS combinations so that customers can access the software regardless of what they are using to access it. Instead of manually running UI tests on multiple devices and browsers and being drained, design test cases that do the same.

Creating UI Test Scenarios

In order to perform comprehensive User Interface Testing, QA teams need to create a test plan that identifies the features of the app or website that must be tested. It also maps the resources available for testing so that bandwidth can be effectively used. By virtue of this data, the team can shape test scenarios, craft test cases and write test scripts that address required issues.

Think of the test scenario as a document that defines how the application is likely to be used in the real world. For example, one scenario is that a user will successfully sign in with a valid username and password. For this step to be tested, the test script has to take into account the following possibilities:

  • User enters a valid username and password
  • User enters a valid username and invalid password
  • User resets the password 
  • User tries to copy password from password field
  • User tries to copy password to password field
  • User clicks Help button

By mapping the various possible user actions, QAs can build test cases and write test scripts that specifically replicate or target those actions. This ensures that the UI test does not miss out on any part of the user journey and leave the application with a bug. 

Like any other software test, UI tests are best executed on real browsers, devices and operating systems. Obviously, testing in real user conditions allows the tester to see exactly how the website or app will behave when being used by actual customers. If testers do not have access to an in-house device lab, they can simply use a real device cloud to run the tests. 

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BrowserStack offers 2000+ real browsers and devices for manual and automated testing. Testers can log in, select devices, browsers and operating systems on which they wish to run test cases and start. The entire process is built to provide convenience, efficiency, speed and accuracy to testers and developers alike. With a wide range of integrations and debugging tools, BrowserStack is built to not just identify bugs, but resolve them at the quickest. 

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