All You Need to Know About Visual Testing

Apr 10th, 2023 | Archi Bhanushali

In today's digital age, where the user experience is king, visual testing has become increasingly important for ensuring that software meets the expectations of users. However, visual testing is often overlooked or undervalued in the software testing process, leading to costly defects and user dissatisfaction.

In this article, we'll cover all you need to know about visual testing, including what it is, its advantages and disadvantages, and how to perform visual testing in your software testing strategy. We'll also explore how visual testing is different from functional testing. Whether you're a seasoned software tester or just starting out in the field, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the world of visual testing and help you deliver high-quality software that meets the needs of your users.

What is Visual Testing?

Visual testing is a crucial software testing technique that focuses on the appearance and functionality of an application's graphical user interface (GUI or UI). Its goal is to ensure that the software meets the client's requirements for both aesthetic appeal and functionality. Since an application's quality is often judged by its visual appearance, it's important to conduct visual testing to ensure its success.

Visual testing can be done manually or using automated tools. With manual visual testing, a human tester will verify that the UI looks and behaves as intended. This type of testing can be time-consuming and error-prone, but it's useful for finding issues that automated tools may miss.

Automated visual testing is faster and more accurate than manual testing because it uses software tools that mimic human vision to check an application's UI. These tools capture screenshots of the UI and compare them with expected UI images to identify any differences. As a result, automated visual testing tools can quickly identify any visual anomalies and ensure that the application's UI appears as intended.

By performing visual testing, you can improve the quality of an application's UI, which can lead to higher user satisfaction and overall software quality.

How to Perform Visual Testing?

To guarantee that visual exams are accurate and efficient, a set of procedures must be followed. Here are the key steps on how to perform visual testing:

  1. Identify the UI elements to be tested: The first step in visual testing is to identify the UI elements to be tested. This includes buttons, icons, images, fonts, colors, and other visual elements that make up the UI.
  2. Determine the expected behavior: Once the UI elements to be tested are identified, the next step is to determine their expected behavior. This includes their appearance, behavior, and interactions with other elements.
  3. Create test cases: After determining the expected behavior of the UI elements, the next step is to create test cases. Test cases should be designed to cover all possible scenarios and interactions to ensure comprehensive testing.
  4. Perform the tests: Once the test cases are created, the tests can be performed. This can be done manually by a tester or automated using visual testing tools. During the tests, screenshots are captured, and comparisons are made between the expected and actual images to detect any differences.
  5. Analyze the results: After the tests are performed, the results must be analyzed to determine the pass/fail status of the tests. Any differences between the expected and actual images should be investigated to determine their cause and whether they represent a defect or a false positive.
  6. Repeat the tests: Finally, it's important to repeat the tests regularly to ensure that the UI remains consistent and functional across different platforms and devices.

In conclusion, performing visual testing entails identifying the UI elements that need to be tested, figuring out their intended behavior, creating test cases, running the tests, examining the results, and repeating the tests frequently. Following these steps can assist in assuring comprehensive testing and improving the overall quality of the software application.

How is Visual Testing Different from Functional Testing

Visual testing and functional testing are both essential components of software testing, but they differ in their focus and approach. While functional testing focuses on testing the application's functionality and features, visual testing focuses on the appearance and consistency of the UI. Here are some key differences between visual testing and functional testing:

  1. Testing Scope: Functional testing encompasses a wide range of tests, including unit testing, integration testing, regression testing, and user acceptance testing, to ensure that the functionality and features of the application fulfill the requirements. Visual testing, on the other hand, only examines the UI's appearance and consistency to make sure that it looks and functions as expected.
  2. Test Case Design: Test cases for functional testing are created based on the needs and functional requirements of the application. In contrast, test cases for visual testing are created based on the application's visual components and UI design specifications.
  3. Test Execution: Functional testing is typically automated utilizing tools and frameworks that imitate user actions and interactions to test the functionality of an application. Contrarily, visual testing can be carried either manually or automatically using tools that compare the expected and real UI graphics in order to find differences.
  4. Testing Output: Functional testing outputs consist of thorough reports on test outcomes, including pass/fail status, defects, and other details. Outputs from visual testing frequently include photos and pictures that show where the expected and real-world user interfaces diverge.
  5. Testing Objectives: Functional testing's main goal is to ensure that the application's features and functionality adhere to the specifications. The goal of visual testing is to make sure that the UI functions and looks as expected, which enhances the user experience.

In summary, visual testing and functional testing differ in their focus, scope, test case design, test execution, testing outputs, and testing objectives. While both testing techniques are important, they should be used in combination to ensure comprehensive testing of software applications.

Advantages of Visual Testing

A thorough software testing plan must include visual testing since it has many advantages over other software testing methods. Some of the main advantages of visual testing include:

  1. Detecting visual bugs early: Visual testing helps detect defects in the UI early in the software development cycle. Developers can save time and money by detecting and resolving issues early in the development cycle.
  2. Improve user satisfaction: Visual testing helps ensure that the UI for an application is aesthetically pleasing, simple to use, and compatible with design specifications.It can boost user satisfaction and adoption rates by improving the appearance and usability of the user interface.
  3. Saving time and effort: Compared to manual testing, automated visual testing solutions can execute visual testing more rapidly and accurately. As a result, testing takes less time and effort. This can help to accelerate the software development cycle and enhance development efficiency.
  4. Supporting continuous integration and delivery: Automated visual testing can be incorporated into the continuous integration and delivery process, giving ongoing feedback on the usability of an application's user interface. By ensuring that errors are found and fixed as soon as possible, improving the overall quality of the software.
  5. Enhancing collaboration: Visual testing can help improve collaboration among developers, testers, and designers. It can assist these teams in collaborating to enhance the UI design and usability by offering visual feedback.

Overall, visual testing has a number of benefits that can improve the quality and user satisfaction of software applications. Visual testing may assist organizations in delivering high-quality software by identifying errors early, enhancing the UI's aesthetic and usability, and supporting continuous integration and delivery.

Disadvantages of Visual Testing

While visual testing offers several advantages, it also has some limitations and disadvantages that should be considered when implementing it as a testing technique. Some of the main disadvantages of visual testing include:

  1. Difficulty in testing dynamic UI’s: Visual testing can be challenging when the UI is dynamic, meaning it changes based on user input or other factors. Testing dynamic UI’s requires more effort and resources, which can increase the cost and time required for testing.
  2. Limited scope of testing: Visual testing is primarily focused on the appearance and consistency of the UI. It does not test the functionality of the application or backend components, which are critical for the application's overall performance and functionality.
  3. Sensitivity to changes: Visual testing can be sensitive to small changes in the UI, such as font size or color changes, which can cause false positives or negatives in test results. This requires more effort and resources to maintain the tests and ensure their accuracy.
  4. Reliance on human judgment: Manual visual testing relies on the judgment of the tester to determine whether the UI looks and behaves as expected. This can lead to inconsistencies and errors, which can impact the accuracy of test results.
  5. Limited effectiveness for accessibility testing: Visual testing is not effective for testing accessibility features, such as screen readers or keyboard navigation, which are critical for users with disabilities.

Visual testing has some disadvantages, including difficulty in testing dynamic UI’s, limited scope of testing, sensitivity to changes, reliance on human judgment, and limited effectiveness for accessibility testing. While visual testing can be an effective testing technique, it should be used in combination with other testing methods to ensure comprehensive testing of software applications.

Final Thoughts

Visual testing is an important technique for improving the quality of software applications and enhancing the user experience. Incorporating visual testing into the software development process can ensure that the user interface functions and looks as intended and satisfies user expectations.

At Initialyze, we understand the importance of quality testing and offer a wide range of quality assurance (QA) services to help our clients ensure their software applications are functioning as intended. Our experienced QA team can help you with all types of quality testing, including visual testing, functional testing, performance testing, and more.

If you're interested in learning more about our QA services, please visit our Quality Engineering page. We would be happy to discuss your testing needs and provide you with a customized solution that meets your requirements. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us