Best practices and considerations for UI testing

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Last updated on November 26th, 2022

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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

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