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UI/UX Testing: What it is, Process, Benefits and Impact

March 25, 2024Harish Rajora
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UIUX Testing What it is, Process, Benefits and Impact
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How many times are we surfing the internet, reading a very important piece of article, totally immersed in it, and suddenly a modal pops up? As if this experience of distracting us and throwing away the momentum was not enough, we observed a lot of the times that developers did not put a close sign (a cross) to close the modal. The only way to proceed is either to click the button on the modal or close the tab.

 bad user experience

Such scenarios are an example of bad user experience, and it is not just the responsibility of the developer but a tester’s too. 

When we talk about UI testing, we discuss what the user will interact with and when we talk about UX testing, we discuss how the user will interact. Both of these experiences should be flawless and presented for the ease of users. To accomplish this, we need to know a few things and follow a few steps. This post is about those concepts that affect UI/UX directly and provide a better experience to the user.

What is UI/UX testing?

UI/UX testing is the process of verifying the functionalities of the user interface (UI) and keeping the user experience (UX) in check. It helps explore critical bugs that can quickly magnify and may hinder performing basic operations on a web application. 

A small example of user experience is the assumptions our end-user makes according to ongoing trends. For instance, consider this blog page from Testsigma:

Testsigma

In the navigation bar, we see a lot of options except “Home” which was common a few years back denoting the option to go to the home page. As of now, users expect “Home” redirection to happen by clicking the logo of the organization. Our example above suits even well to this scenario because the page name is concatenated with the logo but still the user will expect a redirection and click on it for the same.

On the same side, we have “user interface” that is not about experience but impressions of the web application. While it does include the aesthetics and cosmetics of a website, the larger question we answer through UI testing is whether any element is beyond its boundaries. For instance, whether elements are out of the container boundaries or do they overlap each other or not. The UI testing ensures that the application looks pleasing when the user lands on it, as the first impressions are very important in retaining a user. As much as 75% of people trust the business more when the website design is good. If the first impressions are great, we move the UI testing focus to the consistency of elements and how they behave when the user interacts with them.

All these elements, when combined together, result in UI/UX testing – an area that has not been into much focus a decade earlier but today, stands as a career choice for a lot of people due to its popularity and importance.

Why should we perform UI/UX testing?

While we know what we mean by UI/UX testing, it is important to relate it to the current environment and analyze its importance with the impact it creates.

Business growth

The more an end-user stays on the website, the more probability of generating revenue as this behavior displays his interest. Interested end-users not only provide business growth by themselves but also through word of mouth. However, UI/UX plays an essential part in retaining the user. As many as 38% of people stop engaging with the application if the layout is not attractive. Losing these many users, knowing that we could have controlled their behavior, jeopardizes revenue generation and business growth.

Strong competitive advantage

When we present a poorly structured website with poor user experience, we are not only losing the business but redirecting them to our competitors. This is the worst situation for us as a business. They may become loyal customers of our competitors and we may lose them forever. But we may also reverse this effect by providing a better user experience than all of them.

High-quality application

If we set aside the UI/UX tests for the end user, we will find that UI/UX bugs will escalate to high priority which will start disrupting the functionalities of the application. These will then start to occur in regression tests or automated tests which can even stop the release. Involving UI/UX testing from the start and keeping all its issues in check will help enhance the application quality and prevent future debugging and correction time.

Cost-efficient

The more time we invest in debugging and correcting UI/UX bugs that could have been rectified during their release, the more we need to spend on it. The more we spend on such things, the less money we spare for other things that are of higher priority for the current release. All this keeps magnifying and restricts us from being on track as planned for future releases.

High user satisfaction

An application with a good user experience makes the experience enjoyable for the user. A more enjoyable experience imprints in the mind and helps increase user satisfaction which goes a long way in digital businesses. This will also reflect in business growth and generated revenue.

These are some essential benefits that we reap when we focus on UI/UX testing, an area that has started to emerge to the surface of STLC at a fast pace. To make these benefits more lucid, we can connect them to real elements that we commonly see in an application. 

Common examples of UI/UX elements

A few common examples of UI/UX elements that we, as developers and testers, work with on the application are listed below:

Better input field errors

Invalid data should be reported with a clear message in the case of input fields. Since there are many possibilities in the input field, a vague message can confuse the user. 

Better input field errors

uxplanet

Navigation bar experience

A small adjustment in the navigation bar determining the page on which the user is currently on saves time in double-clicking:

Navigation bar experience

uxmovement

Icon designs

Developers especially those working on a mobile application will need to focus extra on icon designs. The icon designs should convey a clear meaning, should be consistent across the application, and be made with colors that complement the application’s palette. A scenario commonly seen in the mobile app testing world.

Icon design

careerfoundry

Applications with many pages sometimes lose track of which pages are taken down and which links are dangling. For this, it is better to provide a 404 page instead of letting the loader revolve for infinity or showing the browser’s default page not found page.

Broken links

socialectric

Confusing alerts

A special focus should be kept on the choice provided on alert prompts as they are used extensively across the website for various reasons. The choices should be clear and define an unclouded action that will be performed once they are clicked.

Confusing alerts

These examples give you a better idea of what importance UI/UX elements serve on a web page and how common these elements are today. 

Difference between UI and UX testing

Till this point, we have been using UI and UX testing as a common term in most of the cases and that is because of the fine line that separates them. Since UI elements can disrupt UX and vice-versa, there are a large part of elements that overlap in both of these domains. But still, they do represent a separate realm of elements and hence we need to define that line clearly for the testers and developers. 

UI and UX on a web application represent two different things – what we see and what we experience. If there is an element that has a lot of animations, a lot of 3D effects, and looks pleasing and attractive, it is considered to be a good UI. However, the user may get frustrated by the animation. The transition time is so low that even a quick hover activates the animation part and does not let other elements work properly. This is something that a tester should keep an eye on.

UI/UX

This analysis makes an important note to bust the myth that a good UI is equivalent to a good UX. We will make use of this knowledge in defining the lines between UI and UX testing as well.

UI TestingUX Testing
Area in focusVisual elements.User experience.
ImportanceTo implement pleasing and attractive elements in the application.To enhance the user experience while operating the application.
Final goalCorrectness of visual elements and perfection in layout and other design-related elements.Correctness in the functioning of those visual elements with respect to user’s satisfaction and their experience.
Time to startAs soon as an individual component is designed and coded.Once the component has been attached to the functionality.
Testing methodsAutomated and manual with more focus on automation.Automated and manual with more focus on manual.

With these many differences, UI and UX testing does contain a lot of similarities and apart from their point of focus, their working and testing styles remain the same. This is the reason that throughout this post, we will be using UI/UX testing as a single term.

How to Perform UI/UX Testing?

To perform UI/UX testing, we need to follow a set standard path so that we do not lose control over the testing cycle. An uncoordinated testing phase can lead to backtracking and spending more time on rectifying things. To not let that happen in UI/UX testing, consider the following steps:

Sit down and analyze the elements

Everything you see on an application comes under the user interface and everything a user can interact with comes under the user experience. However, that doesn’t mean we start to analyze each of the elements on each page to conclude UI/UX testing. The user interface is not changed too often on an application. Sometimes they do, while sometimes the change in functionalities reflects on the UI/UX domain. These areas should be identified and filtered out for testing and moving them to the next phase.

Planning

As with all the other domains in testing, we need planning here as well. This phase takes a lot of time as every subsequent action will be referred to it later. Here we plan the testing approaches to take, tools to choose from, frameworks to opt for, design patterns to follow and the tasks to be divided among different teams. Teams should take their time to plan everything in detail and document the plan for future reference.

Test Scripting

Once planning is done, we should start scripting down UI/UX tests. The amount of time it takes here depends on the tool, framework, or test design you are using. For instance, if the team opts for codeless testing, the time is far less than writing scripts in Java (or any other programming language). The same pattern can be observed in testing based on record-and-replay and mobile recorder-based testing. Each of them has their own merits and it’s up to the team to follow the best-suited designs for them.  



Executing tests

Once we are done scripting the tests, we can proceed to execute according to the plan we devised. Again, the time and costs associated with this phase depend on the method the team has opted for.

Monitoring

The tests we have executed on the application need constant monitoring at regular intervals. Normally, these types of tools are integrated into the framework we are using for scripting and execution of test cases. The monitoring phase provides regular health updates about the pipelines and whether any manual intervention is required or not.

Analysis

The completion of test scripts on the UI/UX elements invites the testers to analyze the results and chalk their future plans. This can go in any direction depending on the results. For instance, elements associated with defects can be filed as bugs and assigned to the development team. Elements associated with test failures may mean either functionality got changed but test cases did not, or there is some issue in the test cases, or the UI/UX element is not working correctly. The next steps taken by the testers depend on this analysis.

Maintenance and reworking

Elements that turned out to be failures and defects are documented differently when a test case report is constructed in UI/UX testing. Since the release date is fixed, we cannot rerun long regressions or scripted suites on the complete application. Once the defects are rectified by the developers and testers, they are either run individually or tested manually for verification. The complete regression and suite execution can be expected at regular intervals in between as well.

Reporting

Finally, testers create a detailed report about test execution and their analysis from start to end. The report should be simplified in language and representation while covering all the technical nuances as well. Since it is delivered to higher management, clients, stakeholders, and other non-technical people, it is a crucial element in releasing the software or even pushing the code to production. 

These steps may overlap with other domains of software testing which is not surprising because of the involvement of UI/UX in core functionalities. A failure in the execution of UI/UX tests would sometimes isolate the functionality from the user completely. Therefore, these steps should be taken in the same order as advised with the inclusion of certain sub-steps if required.



Types of UI/UX testing

UI/UX testing is one of the testing types where manual is as important as automation. Therefore, we rely on both of these techniques equally, and hence, we will explore some insights on each of them.

Manual UI/UX testing

No computer in the world currently predicts the accuracy of user satisfaction by just looking at a certain element. This is something that has required complete human control and as of today, we still follow the same method. 

To understand the importance of UI/UX testing in manual mode clearly, consider a gaming application as it contains so many elements. Can we analyze the excitement level of an end-user through a computer when they will operate the game? Honestly, it’s even harder for the humans!

Manual UI/UX testing can point out defects such as overlapping elements quickly which can also be done through automation, but it will take complex scripts and a lot of extra time and costs. 

Manual UI/UX testing

It’s always better to take into consideration the opinion of a manual tester (who can think like an end-user) when we need to measure something “humanely”.

How to perform manual UI/UX testing?

The first thought we might come across is that UI/UX testing can be done on our systems by scanning the page and documenting the errors. However, there are numerous flaws in this idea. First, we cannot physically handle so many devices on our premises. Second, setting up an infrastructure is very time-consuming and cost-heavy, especially for startups and smaller enterprises. Third, why re-invent the wheel when tools like Testsigma have already invested their resources for exactly the same purpose?

So, what makes manual UI/UX testing so important?

The value of the manual approach in UI/UX testing is due to its screening mechanism that is applied before any other automation to point out bugs that are not due to system configuration but in the source code itself. The best example of this scenario is text-related bugs. 

The basic typography thumb rule states the minimum font sizes and gaps to be applied to the text on the web application. This will remain the same in all the systems no matter what OS they use or what resolution they are in. 

Manual UI/UX testing

heymichellemac

This makes manual UI/UX testing a significant phase because automation can only “verify” but manual can analyze and suggest changes based on experience, trends, human factors, and much more.

Automated UI/UX testing

If any testing type has taken off with a lot of updates in automated testing, it definitely is UI/UX testing. If we consider automated web app testing, the easy part of UI/UX testing is that these elements are attached to an identifier on a web page. For instance, a class name, id name, or XPath to name a few. If an element gets attached, we can identify its location, dimensions, changes over time, and a lot of other things. Selenium took advantage of this thing and launched its record-and-playback feature with the IDE. 

Today, there are tools that are far more advanced than Selenium IDE. For instance, Testsigma provides self-healing assistance to the tester where the test script can adjust automatically according to the changes done in the UI elements. Some tools have developed to a stage where drag-and-drop is all a tester needs to do to create a UI/UX test. 

The most beneficial aspect of automated UI/UX testing is its strength to access hundreds of systems in a single run and create a consolidated report at a single location. This is manually impossible and with the number of active devices in the world today, it is a necessity in UI/UX testing. For an organization planning to start its UI/UX testing cycles, it is recommended to mix both testing methods in the ratio best suited for your needs.



Types of tools to choose for UI/UX tests

UI/UX testing requires special tools for an efficient testing cycle. A best-suited tool for your UI/UX test can facilitate the testing and share the load of testers which will eventually help in lower maintenance and early releases. Since UI/UX testing contains a lot of sub-phases, we may need to settle on one or more tools to achieve the final results. 

Testing focused tools

While different UI/UX testing styles have popped up in the market, they can easily be categorized into either scripted tools or codeless testing tools. Among both of them, scripted tools were developed much earlier and have been in use since the start of automation testing. However, in recent years, several factors have influenced organizations to turn toward codeless testing tools. This has resulted in a $2 billion market in 2023 for codeless testing tools.

The current state of codeless testing tools competes well with scripted automation. Being two large and complex testing methods, it is very rare today to see one single tool offering all the features for both of these paradigms. It is also not recommended to go for such a tool. Therefore, since we have different tools for different testing styles, we need to settle on a tool first and foremost. Once this is done, only then we should filter out tools further.

Design focused tools

Designers working on the primary design ideas for the developers to implement require design-based tools. These tools can be used by the testers to make sure that compatibility of the elements to be added will not interfere much with the existing elements. The testers need not create UI, knowing the position and dimensions is enough.

Monitoring tools

A few organizations do not test UI/UX as a separate testing phase but rely on the inputs from the end-users after release. This includes analyzing the data, drawing out patterns, and re-iterating for the future accordingly. All this can be achieved through specialized monitoring tools that have features to support our aspirations.

Bug tracking tools

The above tools help find defects in the UI/UX of the applications. This is not the end though. Defects are then filed, documented, and assigned to the appropriate person for rectification. But what if the bug is actually not a bug? This information needs to be put as a comment. Which exact code push had the fix? Is this bug severe or mild? All such information related to a bug that may come in handy in the current release or in the future needs to be attached and there is no better match for this than the bug tracking tools.

You can choose the right tool for UI/UX testing according to your needs. You may not require each of them or you may. This is a question that is answered in the planning phase mentioned in the previous section. Here, it is important to note that the actual testing part which is done by one of the tools from “testing focused tools” depends completely on the tool. Some tools provide drag-and-drop functionality while others just take the English language with NLP integrated to conduct tests. Each software is unique and defining all of them may force us to digress from the actual topic of interest. Although, if you are one of the UI/UX testers, we would love to hear about the tool you are using in the comment section.

Best tools for UI/UX testing

Combining a mix of all the types of UI/UX tools, we get the following best tools for their respective domains:

Testsigma

For organizations looking to save their precious time in scripting down complex locator-based UI/UX tests, they have the option to use Testsigma. Advocating for the benefits of open-source and codeless software designs, Testsigma lets the organization hire actual testers rather than programmers as it uses only plain English to write UI/UX test cases.

Testsigma

The tool also provides a mobile recorder where the tester can install and operate the application manually as they would on a physical device. Their actions are then converted to test scripts automatically which can be saved and repeated on the same or any other device in the future. To cater to UI/UX needs specifically, Testsigma comes with self-healing capabilities that can detect the changes in UI and make respective changes in the test cases as well. With monitoring and reporting capabilities, Testsigma is a good place to start for individuals, small businesses, and enterprises and continue their UI/UX journey.



UserTesting

In this post, we have repeatedly focused on how UI/UX testing always requires a human touch and we often refer to a part of it as equivalent to usability testing. This is what UserTesting makes use of to provide satisfactory feedback to their customers. 

UserTesting collaborates with actual testers from all around the world and asks them to test for usability, experience, interface, and much more. Based on their technical and real-world experience, these testers provide their feedback to the organization. This is an invaluable system as humans are involved in the complete process and they can report bugs that no automated system can do currently.

Crazyegg

Inclining slightly more towards the monitoring side, Crazyegg provides you with important insights that let you analyze the user’s behavior clearly. This includes heatmaps (to see where people click), recordings (to see recorded videos of a user browsing), traffic analysis, and error tracking.

Crazyegg

All the listed features are capable of generating an extensive report for the organization. Crazyegg can help organizations explore their weaknesses from live data and boil them down to the element level with ease.

Testim

A tool focusing on UI testing with artificial intelligence technology is Testim. It allows extremely fast test authoring with a defined flow to visualize the execution steps clearly. The AI part of the tool facilitates test case development by taking over charge of repetitive steps and applying predictive knowledge to represent the collected data.

Testim

For organizations who wish to focus on user interface testing extensively, Testim is a good place to start.

Selenium

What’s left on our list is a tool that uses programming scripts and a mix of partial codeless techniques to perform UI/UX testing. Selenium IDE tries to accomplish this goal. With the support of all the major programming languages and a robust, time-tested IDE, Selenium provides a record-and-playback feature to record the actions and playback them on the same or any other device. 

While record-and-playback is only one of the features, Selenium is a big tool that requires its own section. For more information on the same, please refer to the complete guide on Selenium.

As an organization, you may need a mix of these tools or a single tool only. It depends on the project and requirements and the end goals you are trying to achieve as a team. 

Conclusion

The visual representation of an application is pivotal in today’s competitive world. When a user is making up their mind about the business in just 50 milliseconds, risking the UI is not feasible. But is that enough to expect from an organization? While visual representation does help retain a user, that works only till he clicks an element. Once he does, it is the experience that counts which we commonly term as user experience.

UI/UX may seem like a topic of a quick glance, but it comes with its own complexities. Due to this, we cannot deal with it without proper knowledge, planning, design, tools, and most important of all – our own real-life experience. All these aspects of UI/UX testing were discussed in this post exploring all the smaller details we may need in our journey. We hope this will help you enhance your user experience and create a visually appealing application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is UI UX testing a part of functional testing?

UI of the application can be verified by a tester for its alignments, appearance, etc. through white box or black box techniques. The user experience i.e. UX of the application, however, cannot be measured through tools. We can only provide our own feedback as a user and follow current trends. Hence, UX testing cannot be a part of functional testing.

What is UI UX user testing?

UI/UX testing, used as a single term popularly, combines two separate types of testing – UI testing and UX testing. While their final goals of user satisfaction and enhanced experience remain the same, so do the methodologies and processes to achieve them. UI testing aims at verifying visual aspects of an application i.e. “how” does an element look. UX testing, on the other hand, aims at verifying the experience side of the application i.e. “how” good was the experience when the user interacted with the UI element. 

A simple analogy to understand this is while traveling you may see the picture of a bus. It may look really pleasing, great, and luxurious. But that does not mean it will be as comfortable as it looks. A single missing part can degrade your travel experience. Therefore, we can say that we need UI as a first impression but the loyalty of the customer comes only from the UX.

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