Best Practices and Considerations for UI Testing

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Last updated on May 10th, 2024

Today, ensuring that every software product, application, and website works as intended is extremely critical. Slow loading apps, unresponsive websites, and shoddy forms will hurt your business. What good a product that doesn’t meet the user’s expectations?

With a great user interface known to boost a website’s conversion rate by 200%, it’s impossible to ignore the significance of a great UI –for user satisfaction and product success.

If you’re looking to build world-class products, UI tests become critical to ensure that your product all performs essential functions and has no obvious regressions. By interacting with the various elements, UI tests ensure the product works just the way the user would expect it to work.

Yet, developers and engineers often complain about how unstable and unreliable UI test results are. Why?

UI tests are complex and cumbersome. They need substantial time for data to be returned and for the elements to be rendered on the screen. And that’s why development teams stumble. Long run times, complicated debugging, and flaky tests that impede the efficiency gains UI testing is intended to achieve trip them up. They spend hours each week maintaining tests that never seem able to stop bugs from reaching production.

High-performing, good quality software products require you to follow certain best practices to drive the desired outcomes.

9 Ways to Mitigate the Risks of UI Testing

Here are some ways of mitigating common risks and getting the most out of UI tests:

Make sure to prioritize:

If your app fails some of the most basic checks, going ahead with other tests is a waste of time, money, and effort. For instance, if a user cannot sign in, there is no point testing your app for other features as those might eventually fail as well. Make use of test frameworks that allow you to skip tests after basic issues are reported. Prioritizing critical tests will save time by bringing the test run to a stop – as soon as the app fails such a fundamental test.

Group tests efficiently:

You might need to run many tests to ensure your product works as expected, but you don’t have to run all of them all the time. Running a suite of tests can take a long time, and you shouldn’t have to wait to see if every test is successful. Instead, you can work around sluggish test runs by grouping your tests efficiently and testing them for functionality, performance, and speed.

Test at the API level:

Although you might be tempted to replace UI tests with unit tests, they are not the ideal way to test if the different parts of your app work together to produce a working feature. Instead, you can test at the API level and get the advantage of testing your app through your technology stack. You could also write acceptance tests and move towards having simpler applications with better-designed APIs.

Be wary of fluctuating test results:

Considering the time and effort that goes into UI testing, it is important to ensure you’re getting reliable results from all your tests.Flaky tests, which fail or pass for the same configuration are not unknown.These can be harmful to your product as the failures do not always indicate the presence of bugs. Make sure to be vigilant and wary of tests that have the tendency to reduce the reliability of your UI tests. Check for concurrency, non-deterministic or undefined behaviors, unreliable third-party code, infrastructure glitches, etc. to drive consistently accurate test results.

Implement “waits”:

For UI tests, timing is of the essence. If a test runs at the wrong time, it could bring the entire application down. Implementing “waits” is a great way to make sure that the test waits until the UI element is ready to be interacted with. By ensuring the app is in the correct state before proceeding, you can enjoy better success with your UI test results. This is especially important while testing functions that are dependent on external services and data.

Take re-runs seriously:

While testing a software product for its UI, it is not uncommon for the product to fail repeatedly. What’s important is to identify the root cause for recurring failure – a poorly written test suite or a massive bug. Make sure to use test frameworks that rerun failed tests. This way, you can identify tests that are inconsistent, build credibility in your test results, and limit run time.

Focus on standardization:

While you might be tempted to test your UI across different environments, making tests flexible, so they can handle unexpected data can lead to costly test maintenance. Make sure to test against the same content on each run, so you can know the exact reason for failed tests. Once you are confident about the results, you can change the environment and test again for more reliable outcomes.

Consider automation tools:

Despite the criticality of UI tests, debugging failures is a Herculean task for most developers. To make debugging simple, consider the use of automated tools frameworks that can provide detailed reports on the defect or bug. Not only can they throw light on the issue at hand but they can also allow you to fix them more quickly for faster closure.

Drive quality outcomes:

Given how critical the user experience is, every app needs to perform well on that front. UI tests are a great way to ensure your app works as intended, and to the expectations of your users.

However, if these tests can’t be trusted or take an incredibly long time to provide reliable results, they become less valuable. That’s why it’s important to implement the right practices to stop your app from breaking.This will ensure your testing is painless. This can go along way to help gain confidence in your tests and drive quality user outcomes.

FAQ

Why is UI testing important?

UI testing is crucial to ensure that the application provides a seamless and intuitive user experience. It helps in identifying any defects or inconsistencies in the UI that could affect user interaction and satisfaction.

What are some common challenges in UI testing?

Common challenges in UI testing include dealing with dynamic elements, ensuring test stability across different browsers and devices, maintaining test scripts as the UI evolves, and achieving comprehensive test coverage.

Should UI testing be automated or manual?

Both automated and manual testing have their advantages. Automated testing is ideal for repetitive tasks and regression testing, while manual testing is better for exploratory testing and evaluating user experience.

What are the benefits of automated UI testing?

Automated UI testing offers benefits such as faster feedback on changes, increased test coverage, repeatability of tests, scalability for regression testing, and overall improvement in software quality.

How do you ensure UI tests are maintainable and scalable?

To ensure UI tests are maintainable and scalable, it’s important to follow best practices such as using design patterns like page object model, keeping tests independent and modular, minimizing test duplication, regularly reviewing and refactoring test code, and investing in proper documentation and training for team members.

What should be considered when selecting UI testing tools?

When selecting UI testing tools, factors to consider include compatibility with the technology stack of the application under test, support for cross-browser and cross-device testing, ease of test creation and maintenance, integration with CI/CD pipelines, and availability of support and community resources.

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