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A complete guide to UI test automation

Automating user interface (UI) testing is a crucial aspect of software development and quality assurance and one of the most popular automation initiatives. In fact, one survey found that 82 percent of companies invested in UI automation.

Evaluating and verifying the UI of applications ensures that the software functions correctly, delivers a great user experience (UX) and reduces the risk of user frustration, negative reviews, and customer churn. In this article, we review some of the basics of UI testing and UI test automation.

What is UI testing?

UI testing focuses on evaluating and verifying the user interface of a software application and ensures that the application's user interface functions correctly, is visually appealing, and provides a satisfactory user experience.

The testing process involves interacting with UI elements, such as buttons, menus, forms, and other graphical components, to validate their behavior and responsiveness and compare actual behavior of the UI against the expected behavior, which is typically defined in design specifications, user requirements, or UI mockups.

The user interface can take many forms including:

  • Graphical user interface (GUI) – used in desktop applications, web applications, and mobile apps and includes elements like icons, buttons, menus, and windows
  • Command line interface (CLI) – used in operating systems, development tools, and server administration and is typically a text-based interface where users interact with the software by typing commands into a terminal or command prompt.
  • Web user interface (Web UI) – used in web-based applications, accessed through web browsers on various device types and designed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Touch user interface (TUI) – used in touch-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets and includes gestures like tapping, swiping, pinching, and dragging
  • Natural language user interface (NUI) – used in software where the user types or speaks on sentences in a conversational manner.
  • Voice user interface (VUI) - used in virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa and includes voice commands.

Why UI testing is essential?

UI testing not only ensures that the application's user interface is user-friendly, intuitive, and consistent, it also verifies that it performs its designated actions without errors or unexpected behavior.

Other benefits of UI testing include ensuring that the application's UI works correctly across various browsers and devices, catching any bugs introduced with new software releases, confirming that the application handles issues and erroneous data correctly, identifying potential security vulnerabilities, ensuring the application is usable by people with disabilities, the content displays correctly in different languages and character sets and is visually consistent across the application.

Common UI testing types

Various types of UI testing can be conducted to ensure the quality and functionality of the user interface in software applications. Here are some common types of UI testing.

  • Functional testing - Verifying all UI elements produce the expected results.
  • Focus testing - Validating the focus order and behavior of UI elements when navigating through the application using keyboard controls.
  • Input validation testing - Verifying that the UI correctly validates user inputs and prevents incorrect or malicious data from being submitted.
  • Error handling testing - Verifying handling of errors, warnings, and validation messages.
  • Scrolling and pagination testing - Checking the display of large datasets or content.
  • Navigation testing - Check the flow and navigation to ensure users can move between different screens and sections as intended.
  • Workflow testing - Verifying the UI functionality through various workflows and processes.
  • Usability testing - Assessing the layout, navigation, and overall user experience to identify potential issues that could confuse or frustrate users.
  • Compatibility and responsive testing - Ensuring consistent operation, adaptation and display across different operating systems, devices, web browsers and versions.
  • Accessibility testing - Ensuring the UI is usable by individuals with disabilities.
  • Localization testing - Validating translation and display for different languages and regions.
  • Visual/UI design testing - Checking that the defined design guidelines are followed and maintained across all screens and components.
  • Integration testing - Testing the UI with the back-end functionality.
  • End-to-end testing - Testing user interactions that span multiple UI screens and cover entire user workflows within the application.
  • A/B testing - Comparing two different versions of the UI to determine which one performs better in terms of user engagement and conversion rates.
  • Performance testing - Assessing metrics, such as page load times and responsiveness.
  • Security testing - Identifying potential security vulnerabilities related to UI elements, such as input validation and secure login mechanisms.
  • Regression testing - Ensuring that recent changes or additions have not adversely affected existing UI functionality.

It's essential to tailor the UI testing approach to the specific requirements and characteristics of the software application and combine testing types for a comprehensive and effective testing strategy.

How to test UIs?

Performing UI testing involves a systematic approach to ensure its functionality, usability, and visual consistency. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform UI testing:

  • Understand requirements - Review design documents, wireframes, mockups, and user stories to gain a clear understanding of what the UI should look like and how it should function.
  • Identify test scenarios - Identify specific user interactions, such as clicking buttons, entering data into forms, and navigating through different screens. Use our Common UI testing types to plan test scenarios.
  • Create test cases - Write detailed test cases with steps to be performed, expected outcomes, and any preconditions or data requirements.
  • Select testing tools - Choose a UI testing tool or framework based on the application's technology stack and the team's expertise. Common UI testing tools include BotzAutomation, Selenium and Appium.
  • Set up test environment - Configure the test environment with the required hardware, software, browser/device configurations and user permissions.
  • Perform tests - Execute test cases, analyze results, report and document testing, document and track bugs and retest when fixes are implemented.
  • Automate UI tests – Use a UI test automation framework to automate tests and rerun tests quickly and consistently, especially for regression testing.

UI testing is an iterative process, and it may require collaboration between testers, developers, designers, and product owners. Regularly reviewing and updating test cases based on changing requirements and feedback will help maintain an effective UI testing process.

What is UI test automation?

UI test automation is the process of automating UI testing tasks to streamline the testing process, increase efficiency, and improve the accuracy of UI testing. It automates many of the repetitive tasks involved in UI testing to reduce the time spent by testers to verify the user interface.

During the UI test automation, testers or developers create scripts or test cases that mimic the actions that a human user would perform and verify the actual behavior of the UI against the expected outcomes defined in the test scripts.

Also Read: What is API automation and how to get started

Benefits of UI test automation include reducing the time required for testing repetitive scenarios, eliminating human errors and variations in user interface testing, enabling multiple configurations and environments testing, reduced time and effort for regression testing, early detection of software and allowing resources to be redirected to more complex testing activities or other development tasks.

UI tests that can be automated

Many UI tests can be automated with off-the-shelf tools. This includes functional, input validation, error handling, navigation, workflow, integration, performance, security, regression, and end-to-end testing. The key is to select the right UI test automation framework that supports the application’s technology stack, provides the depth and breadth of features to meet UI testing requirements and is easy-to-use by the testing and automation team.

UI test automation frameworks

UI test automation frameworks are software tools and libraries that provide a structured and efficient way to automate the testing of user interfaces. They offer predefined functions, methods, and utilities that simplify the creation, execution, and maintenance of UI automated tests. There are many popular UI test automation frameworks and here are some common ones:

  • Selenium: Supports multiple programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, and JavaScript and allows user to automate testing of web elements.
  • Cypress: Designed specifically for web applications.
  • Appium: For mobile applications and supports both Android and iOS platforms.
  • TestCafe: Designed for web browsers and eliminates the need for browser-specific drivers.
  • Robot Framework: Open-source framework for web, mobile, and desktop UI testing.
  • BotzAutomation: A scalable and enterprise-wide tool that uses a component-based system to automate testing of UIs, APIs, enterprise applications, files, databases and more.

UI test automation best practices

UI test automation can be a powerful tool to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your testing efforts. To ensure successful UI test automation, consider the following 15 best practices:

  • Integrate UI test automation early in the software development lifecycle.
  • Adopt the Page Object Model design pattern to create a clear separation between test code and the application's UI.
  • Choose UI test automation frameworks that are suitable for your technology stack and provide strong support.
  • Conduct UI test automation on real devices and browsers that target users are likely to use.
  • Focus UI test automation efforts on critical and high-risk areas of the application, including core functionality and user experience.
  • Write UI tests in a way that each test is independent and can run in isolation.
  • Use test data that is generated within the test or fetched from test-specific sources to reduce reliance on external data that might change.
  • To improve reliability, use explicit waits to ensure the application is ready for interactions before executing test steps.
  • Review and update automated UI tests regularly to accommodate changes in the application and maintain test relevance.
  • Use parallel test execution to speed up the testing process and reduce test execution time.
  • Set up a process for managing test data and test environments to ensure consistency and reproducibility of tests.
  • Incorporate UI test automation into the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to ensure that automated tests are executed with every code change.
  • Gather and analyze test metrics, such as test execution time, test success rate, and defect rates, to monitor the effectiveness of your UI test automation efforts.1
  • Investigate and address test failures promptly to maintain the reliability of test suite.
  • Remove obsolete tests, refactor code when needed, and maintain a consistent coding style.

Following these best practices will ensure that you have a robust and efficient UI test automation strategy.

Why use BotzAutomation for UI testing?

BotzAutomation offers many testing capabilities that make UI testing easy. This includes:

  • No-Code/Low-Code approach makes UI automation testing easy to create and maintain
  • Orchestrated executions applies rules and conditions, and executes APIs on dependent mode without manual intervention
  • Monitor UI execution status and logs in real-time.

Learn more about what BotzAutomation can do for you.
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