Visual Testing : What It is and How to Get Started?

Explore visual testing with our guide. Understand the significance of visual validation and get started with practical insights to enhance your software's visual quality.

Hello everyone, Welcome to another interesting and informative blog. We all want vibrant images and a good user experience in today’s society. People of all ages are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet. As a result, freshly designed websites and applications must be of the same quality across all platforms.

Attractive designs and layouts are also critical for client engagement. Colors, typefaces, and other visual components of a website or application have a significant impact on the user experience.

We may even abandon using some websites or e-commerce applications due to a poor user interface. Consider the possibility that the organizations may lose a business deal as a result of this. So, what can be done to ensure that the user interface is visually appealing and simple to use? Absolutely, another layer of testing is required, and it is known as visual testing.

Are you new to visual testing and don’t know where to start? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through all the basics of visual testing, including what it is, why it’s important, and how to get started. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the basics and be able to apply them to your projects. Let’s get started!

What is Visual Testing?

Visual Testing, sometimes referred to as visual UI testing, verifies that the software user interface (UI) is presented correctly to all users. This is an extremely important process, as software applications and websites need to look just as good on a wide variety of devices and browsers.

It ensures that each element on the page appears in the right shape, size, and position, helping developers create a unified experience for their users. With this testing, we can quickly detect any discrepancies or errors between what they expect to see and what is shown on screen. Ultimately, this helps them ensure that their product meets usability standards and is fully optimized across platforms.

Therefore, visual testing is an effective way to ensure the UI is working as intended and looks great on any device.

By implementing visual tests into your test process, you can ensure that your product delivers an optimal user experience to all users no matter what device or browser and version they are using. This allows for better user experience and satisfaction, which can lead to improved customer loyalty. As such, incorporating visual tests into the test process is highly advantageous for any organization.

Why is Visual Testing Important?

Visual testing is important to ensure that the User Interface (UI) meets the design requirements and usability standards. It helps identify the visual bugs or design inconsistencies that can affect the user experience, which might lead to user frustration or sometimes abandonment of the application.

Why is Visual Testing Important?

For example, in the above example, the UI elements overlap with each other, and only this testing can help detect these types of visual bugs that affect user experience.

It helps identify UI defects that can not be detected in functional testing, as they only ensure that the application works as intended.

When Should Use Visual Testing?

It can be used when you want to ensure that your application’s GUI is the same as expected and that there are no design or website layout-related visual issues. It helps identify any discrepancies in the visual appearance of the software application

Why Can’t Functional Tests Cover Visual Issues?

Visual testing focuses primarily on verifying the visual aspects of an application, providing a thorough evaluation of its appearance, layout, and design. It helps ensure a visually flawless user experience.

Remember, functional tests are essential for ensuring proper functionality, and they alone cannot guarantee the absence of visual defects. Using this testing, you can visually assess your software application. Hence you can provide users with functional and visually compelling user experiences.

Why Use AI-Driven Automation for Visual Testing?

If you have been running visual tests manually for some time now, you know the challenges and errors that come along with it. Let’s see how automated testing helps eliminate them.

Usually, manual visual testing oversees the minute pixel differences and only looks at the bigger picture like easily visible images, colors, and texts. It is also time-consuming; testers need to inspect the color code, text font, and images in the CSS and HTML files. With AI, they don’t have to spend time checking these details every time new changes are made to the visuals of the website.

Let’s elaborate more on the same. Utilize AI-driven automated visual testing to detect subtle visual defects that may go unnoticed during manual testing. Traditional testing methods often struggle to identify minor UI inconsistencies, such as pixel variations, color deviations, or layout shifts across different devices and browsers. AI-driven automation tools excel in detecting these nuances, allowing testers to identify and address potential issues before they impact user experience. 

Moreover, AI-driven automation enables continuous testing throughout the development lifecycle, ensuring that visual regressions are identified and resolved promptly, thereby reducing the risk of costly defects reaching production.

Why Do Enterprises Need Visual Testing?

Enterprises need visual testing to ensure the visual elements of their software applications meet design specifications and provide a consistent and high-quality user experience. To them, client satisfaction is paramount, which is especially true for small enterprises.

Visual testing supports their endeavors to validate the visual aspects of their applications; enterprises can enhance brand perception, improve user satisfaction, and mitigate the risk of user abandonment due to poor visual presentation. Additionally, visual testing helps maintain brand consistency and compliance with design guidelines, contributing to overall software quality and competitiveness in the market.

Types of Visual Testing Based on Functionality

It can be broken down into two main categories based on the functionalities: 

  • Static Visual Testing
  • Dynamic Visual Testing

Static Visual Tests:

Static Visual Tests captures images of web pages and compares them to a baseline image or set of images, looking for discrepancies in elements such as text, size, font, placement, and shape. By capturing screenshots of a web page, testers can check that a page looks as it should on various devices and browsers.

This is useful for checking elements such as layout and styling and ensuring that functionality works as expected. Static tools use bitmap comparison, which captures an image of the web page and compares it to an ideal example. 

Dynamic Visual Tests:

Dynamic Visual Tests allow testers to test how users interact with specific page elements, such as buttons or menus, by simulating user actions to catch common UI issues that static tests may miss such as misaligned elements or incorrectly sized images. Dynamic tools allow testers to record user actions and replay them on different browsers and devices to detect visual anomalies.

These days, there are tools like Testsigma that support both Static as well as Dynamic testing.

Visual Tests Based on Type of Testing to be Performed

There are three different types of visual tests based on the type of testing to be performed. They are:

Manual Visual Testing:

This type of testing involves manually inspecting the visual elements of the software to ensure they are working correctly and look the way they should. For example, eyeballing the screen to find any user experience or visual defects.

Challenges in Manual Visual Testing

It can be challenging due to multiple reasons, including,

  • Human error

This testing involves testers performing testing manually, so there are always chances of human errors.

  • Difficulty in reproducing bugs

An issue spotted during manual testing might be difficult to reproduce.

  • Limited scope

Manual testing can not cover every possible scenario, which might lead to potential blind spots or missed bugs.

  • Time-consuming

Manual testing is time-consuming as testers have to manually check every page or screen of the application or website.

  • Inconsistent results

Since multiple testers evaluate the application, there is a possibility for inconsistency in identifying the visual defects, which might lead to varying results.

  • Expensive

Manual testing can be expensive as a large number of testers are required to perform the testing.That is why test automation platforms like Testsigma play a major role in today’s software testing process, as it eliminates the need for testers to be available all time to complete the testing. Also, the cost and time required to perform testing is also relatively less when compared to traditional methods.

Automated Visual Testing:

This type of testing uses automated tools to compare the visual elements of the software to a set of expected results. Based on the test cases, the tool can validate the visual elements.

Challenges in Automated Visual Testing

It also has its challenges, including,

  • Maintenance

Automated testing might require frequent maintenance to make sure the test cases remain accurate and up-to-date as the requirements change over time.

  • False positives/negatives

Automated testing may cause false positives or negatives, which might lead to incorrect results.

  • Scripting

Writing and maintaining automated test scripts requires experience in coding and testing frameworks. But using a no-code or codeless test automation platform like Testsigma will solve this problem.

  • Environment setup

It requires a stable test environment to perform testing, which might be difficult to set up and maintain, especially for applications that depend on third-party services.

  • Limited scope

It can only test the scenarios you have coded for.

  • Cost

Automated testing also needs initial investment to buy tools and other resources, which can be a barrier for small organizations.

Regression Testing:

This type of testing is used to ensure that changes to the software do not cause any unexpected visual changes. An example of regression testing is comparing the appearance of a web page before and after an update to ensure that the overall look and feel are unchanged.

Under the above three major types, many subtypes of testing are particularly specialized, based on the project need, audience response, and so on. Let’s explore and get to know about some of the below:

  • Usability Testing: This type of visual check assesses a design’s ease of use and intuitiveness. User experience professionals use tools like eye-tracking technology to determine if a user can easily navigate a design or interface. For example, a usability test may examine how users engage with the menu bar of a mobile app or how fast users can locate a product on an e-commerce website.
  • A/B Testing: A/B testing allows designers to compare two versions of a design to determine which one is more successful in delivering a certain message or accomplishing a certain goal. For example, a web designer could compare the two different color options for more attractive call-to-action.
  • Compatibility Testing: This kind of visual check entails ensuring that software works across multiple platforms, browsers, and devices. Running tests to ensure a website appears properly on various platforms, or testing a mobile app to ensure it functions on both Android and iOS devices, are examples of compatibility testing.
  • Color Contrast Testing: This type of visual testing evaluates the contrast between colors to ensure that the colors chosen are suitable for a certain audience or message. Fro example, the color contrast of text and background should be within ideal range.
  • Responsive Web Design Testing: Responsive web design testing focuses on ensuring that a website is functional and looks good on different devices, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Motion Graphics Testing: This testing process assesses how well a design communicates through motion graphics, such as animations and videos. It ensures that the motion graphics effectively promote the product, service, or message pleasingly and engagingly.
  • Iconography Testing: Evaluating icons and other graphical elements to judge their effectiveness in conveying the intended message or action. 
  • Visual Accessibility Testing: This type of testing ensures that a product is compatible with assistive technology, visually, and that it can be accessed by all audiences. For example, an accessibility expert may test whether a user can easily distinguish between buttons with similar shades of color on a website.
  • Layout Testing: This type of testing focuses on the placement of elements within a layout, ensuring that an interface is consistent and visually appealing.

Read More: Visual Regression Testing

Benefits of Visual Testing

Visual testing helps detect any visual inconsistencies across different platforms, quickly alerting you to potential problems before they become too widespread. By including this additional layer in testing, any visual errors are identified quickly and easily for faster resolution.

  • Improved User Experience: It provides a method to check the appearance of the user interface and provide a consistent user experience across all devices. It also enables designers to rapidly uncover visual discrepancies that might undermine user trust or engagement with an application.
  • Improved Accessibility: Visual tests assist engineers in ensuring that an app meets accessibility requirements such as WCAG. 
  • Increased efficiency and Cost Savings: These tools can help you save time and money by speeding up the testing and debugging process. 
  • Better user experience: It ensures that your website looks the same across all devices, resulting in a better user experience.
  • Improved testing accuracy: These tools assist in finding visual flaws that may be difficult to notice during the functional testing process.

How to Perform Visual Testing?

Getting started with this testing can be intimidating. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Choose a visual testing tool: Tools come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to choose the right one for your project. Do some research into the various tools and decide on one that offers the features you need.

Testsigma - Visual Testing Tool

Testsigma, is a nocode test automation platform that lets you automate your tests for web, mobile, APIs and desktop, from the same place. You can do both static and dynamic visual testing with Testsigma.

2. Create a testing strategy/plan: Creating a testing plan will help you reduce the time and effort wasted on testing and ensure that everything is properly tested.

3. Set up your testing environment: Setting up a testing environment is a critical step in any visual testing process. Make sure you have the right tools and devices set up to ensure consistent results.

Steps for Implementing

Step 1– When implementing this testing, the first step is to determine which elements of the UI should be tested. This includes choosing between manual or automated testing and selecting a test suite that meets your requirements. Manual testing involves inspecting each page of the UI, while automated testing uses algorithms to analyze the visual elements and compare them with a baseline.

Step 2– Automated tests are often faster and more accurate than manual tests, but it is important to consider whether your application requires more sophisticated manual testing to validate elements such as fonts, colors, and animation. Regardless of which method you choose, a visual test ensures that the UI works correctly for all users on all devices.

Step 3– Once the elements to be tested have been identified, it’s important to ensure that each element is supported and displayed correctly for different browsers and devices. This will allow for comprehensive visual testing across all platforms. To do this, tools such as pixel-to-pixel comparison tools or screenshot comparison tools are used to compare each version to the baseline version.

Step 4– Additionally, tools like automated tools for visual testing help detect any deviations from the design and provide a comprehensive report on the same. With these tools, it aims to ensure that all design elements appear correctly and function as expected, regardless of the device or browser used.

Step 5– By implementing automated testing into your development workflow, you can save valuable time and resources in the long run by finding issues before they reach production or launch. Besides saving time and resources, implementing automated testing into your development workflow helps ensure the software user interface (UI) appears correctly to all users. Having automated tests catch those issues before they reach production or launch is invaluable.

Step 6– Finally, setting up a monitoring system can help identify changes in the UI quickly and accurately, ensuring any discrepancies are quickly identified and resolved.

Visual testing is an invaluable tool for ensuring that the UI appears correctly to all users. Through monitoring systems, any discrepancies in the UI can be quickly identified and resolved, preserving the integrity of the software and allowing users to access websites without issue.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Visual TestingDisadvantages of Visual Testing
User-friendly – This testing is very easy to understand and execute.Not very comprehensive – It can not identify any issues related to the functionality of the application
Identify UI-related defects – It can detect visual bugs like, color contrast, alignment issues, and incorrect positioning of elements.Requires high skills – Testers should be aware of the design principles and have knowledge of the visual elements.
Saves time – You can automate this testing by using tools like Testsigma. Thus, it allows testers to focus on other critical testing tasks.Time-consuming – Manual visual testing is time-consuming. But automation helps accelerate the visual testing process.
Improve user experience – It helps ensure that the look and feel of the application are as expected without any inconsistencies in the design or layout.Not suitable for certain applications – It is not suitable for applications with a limited graphical interface or do not have a GUI.
It helps identify any cross-browser visual defects.

Tools Available

There are a variety of tools available for visual testing. These include:

  • Selenium: Selenium is an open-source tool that can be used for automated visual testing for web applications.
  • Applitools: Applitools is a cloud-based visual testing platform that can be used to test the visual elements of web and mobile applications.
  • Percy: Percy is a visual testing and review solution that enables teams to create and review visual changes, allowing businesses to test web applications quickly and accurately.
  • LambdaTest: LambdaTest is a cloud-based platform that allows users to test website pages for visual bugs. Also, you can simulate page performance across multiple browsers and devices.

Read More: Best Visual Layout Testing Tools to Watch for in 2023

Tips for Visual Testing

1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the product: Before you begin testing, learn about the product, grasp its purpose and aim, and read through any documentation or instructions that will help you understand it better. 

2. Determine what to test: Give attention to structural components such as layout, color, and font, as well as user interfaces such as buttons, menus, and navigation. Consider the functional aspects, such as text, photos, graphics, and video.

3. Prepare the right environment: Consider the devices and browsers that may be used with the product, and ensure that all display components are acceptable in each scenario.

4. Mimic real user behavior: Utilize the product in the same manner that a consumer would, noting any performance issues or glitches that may arise when using the product and how they present on each device or browser.

5. Take notes and document: Be careful to document everything you see before and throughout the test, as well as any changes or discrepancies in the product. In this manner, you will be able to go back to your testing procedure for subsequent product versions.

6. Test across multiple devices: Test the finished product on a range of operating systems, platforms, and browsers to ensure that it operates properly and consistently across all devices.

7. Review your findings: When you’ve completed testing, check over your notes and results to see if there are any sections of the product that need to be improved or re-tested.

To Conclude:

In conclusion, visual testing is an important part of any web development project, as it ensures that everything looks good and functions properly. It can seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s quite simple.

This comprehensive guide has provided an overview, and the different types, benefits, and tools available. By following this, you now have a good understanding of the basics and know where to start. With a bit of practice, you’ll be an expert visual tester in no time!

Good luck with your testing journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Visual Testing Different from Functional Testing?

What is visual testing also known as?