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Visual Testing 101: Enhancing Product Quality and User Experience

Visual Testing 101
Posted On: 28 August 2023

Companies are launching new releases continuously. This means that changes or updates are happening endlessly in every product or application. But how does one ensure these changes do not impact product quality, especially the UI/UX? That’s where visual testing comes into play.

What Is Visual Testing?

What is visual testing?

Visual testing is a type of software testing that evaluates and tests the visual experience and behavior of any product or application. It helps confirm if the product under test meets the intended visual appearance and appeal. It also ensures any update made to the product does not break functionality or cause the user experience to suffer.

With software applications being built and being accessed on a mix of devices, browsers, and operating systems, visual testing is becoming very important. It enables visual testers to:

  • Understand how satisfied users are with the visual appearance of their software product or application
  • Identify UI/UX issues early in the testing lifecycle and resolve them before they impact the user experience
  • Check how well a website or application page renders and ensure there are no issues with how content is presented
  • Ensure that the web or mobile application they are building offers visual elements as originally intended

How Is It Different from Functional Testing?

If you are already conducting functional tests on your software, do you need visual tests? Yes! Functional tests only validate if your UI works properly. They do not check if your page is rendering properly or if your buttons are placed correctly. While you can use functional testing to validate these aspects of your product, it would take considerable effort.

Visual testing assesses and verifies a lot more things than functional testing. For example, using visual tests, you can evaluate your page layout, monitor font differences, and check how different colors would look on different screens. They go a step beyond functional tests, which only check known inputs against desired outputs. By testing visual correctness, they monitor changes over releases and capture visual differences.

Visual tests also help verify that the application’s UI is consistent, seamless, and user-friendly. They ensure that various visual elements like colors, images, fonts, and layouts, are displayed correctly across different devices, operating systems, and browsers.

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What Are the Different Visual Testing Types?

Like any other software testing, visual testing can broadly be classified into two types:

Visual Testing done by Humans

Manual visual testing requires testers to manually examine and validate the visual aspects of a software application. Such manual verification needs to be done regularly to inspect and confirm that the visual experience meets designed requirements and expectations. Testers do this by checking every element of the visual appearance of the product, right from its layout to navigation, text, behavior, etc.

During manual visual testing, testers conduct various tasks like clicking on keys, filling out forms, and navigating through the different screens. While doing this, they pay close attention to how the different elements look and perform and how the overall product behaves.

Manual visual tests help in checking for issues such as broken links, poor-quality images, incorrect font sizes, and more that could impact the overall user experience.

Visual Testing done Automatically

Automated visual testing, on the other hand, relies on specialized tools to verify the visual appearance and behavior of a software application or website. Unlike manual visual testing, which is done entirely by humans, automated visual testing uses modern tools to simulate the actions of a human user and evaluate the different visual elements.

By using intelligent algorithms, automated visual testing compares the actual visual appearance of the application with its expected or intended appearance. This helps visual testers to spot discrepancies or defects in text, images, fonts, colors, and layout. In contrast to manual visual testing, automated visual testing accelerates the testing process while also minimizing human error, inconsistency, and costs.

How to Perform Visual Testing?

How to perform visual testing?

If you want to quickly identify visual defects and inconsistencies that may negatively impact the usability of your application, you must carry out effective visual testing. Here are some tips and best practices to follow:

  • Build a robust visual testing strategy to understand your requirements, plan for budget, and identify tools and resources needed.
  • Set up your testing environment and identify visual elements that need to be tested on priority.
  • Test elements across various devices, form factors, browsers, and operating systems to ensure UI consistency.
  • Opt for a test runner to write and run visual tests and detect bugs and errors in your user interface.
  • Make use of a browser automation framework to replicate user functions and actions.
  • Check every user function against a benchmark or baseline to identify visual differences.
  • Enable automated testing for products with extremely complex UI elements.
  • Fix bugs caused by visual differences and rerun the visual test to check if the workaround or fix has worked.
  • Automate the reporting process to get quick and accurate insight into test execution success.

Why Should You Prefer Automated Visual Testing?

As the complexity of software applications grows, manual visual testing can become a tedious and time-consuming way to check visual accuracy. If you want to ensure your application or website is visually appealing, easy to use, and meets user expectations, you must automate visual testing. Automated visual testing can help in:

  • Minimizing the chances (and costs) of errors associated with manual visual testing
  • Accelerating the visual testing process, which contributes to a more efficient and timely product launch
  • Ensuring consistency between the various visual aspects of your product across devices, browsers, and operating systems
  • Easily reproducing issues found during manual visual tests and uncovering their root cause
  • Expanding the coverage of tests across a larger number of use cases and scenarios and ensuring no blind spots are missed
  • Optimizing the overall costs and efforts of testing and ensuring the software under test meets visual expectations

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How To Choose a Tool for Automated Visual Testing?

Opting for automated visual testing is a great way to accelerate the testing process while minimizing visual errors and inconsistencies. But the success of your automated visual testing efforts greatly depends on the tool you choose. Here are three things to keep in mind while choosing a testing tool for automated visual tests:

Testing Requirements

Any tool you choose must align with your testing requirement. If your test suites are simple and your coding is minimal, you can opt for an automated visual testing tool that offers a standard set of testing capabilities. But if your software application or website is complex and spans multiple use cases, you must choose a tool that can handle evolving needs and requirements.

For complex products, a codeless, cloud-based test automation tool can be extremely beneficial. Such a tool can help quickly spin up test cases and enable multi-channel automation across your entire tech stack. A codeless tool can also allow you to achieve continuous test automation – reducing manual effort and curtailing testing costs.

Entry Barrier to Effectively Using the Tool

Another aspect to keep in mind when on the lookout for an automated visual testing tool is ease of use. If the tool has a high entry barrier or learning curve, it can delay the overall testing process. In the long run, this can impact your time-to-market while also negatively affecting the user experience.

Opting for a codeless tool can make it extremely easy for your visual testers to carry out efficient visual tests. Regardless of how competent or skilled your testers are, such a tool can shorten the learning curve and enable your visual testers to create test suites, run tests, and monitor results quickly and easily.

Using a single platform, you can automate various visual testing aspects across the web, mobile, and APIs. Such automation can help you strengthen the visual aspects of your software while accelerating releases.

Testing Budget

Budget is another criterion you should evaluate when choosing an automated visual testing tool. An expensive tool isn’t always the best, nor is an open-source tool that is freely available in the market. While a robust and effective tool might be priced on the higher side, the tool you select must be assessed across various aspects. These aspects could be ease of use, integration capabilities to coding requirements, automation expertise, and more.

To ensure the tool fits your budget, opt for a cloud-based test automation tool that can be easily and securely accessed by visual testers. A cloud-based tool eliminates costly hardware implementations while allowing you to make the most of automated updates and patches for effective visual tests.

Ensure the Visual Excellence of Your Products

Software products have become the lifeblood of organizations. But as more and more features get integrated, testing requirements get increasingly complicated. Any change in OS, browser, or screen size can change the appearance of your application. This means you must constantly and successfully test the visual aspects of your product.

Automated visual testing is a great way to test, verify, and confirm that every visual element works as intended. Automating complex testing tasks paves the way for continuous testing while minimizing the errors and risks associated with manual visual testing.

Ready to explore the world of automated visual testing and take your user experience to the next level? Contact ACCELQ today!

Yuvarani Elankumaran

Technical Consultant at ACCELQ.

Yuvarani Elankumaran is a highly skilled technical consultant at ACCELQ. With over a decade of experience in the field of Test Automation, Yuvarani is a seasoned professional who is well-versed in a variety of programming languages and automation frameworks.

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