Try These Hacks to Speed Up Your Manual UI Tests
Test and Monitor | Posted May 05, 2020

User interface testing, or UI testing, is an integral part of the software development process. While unit and integration tests ensure that things work on a code level, UI tests are the only way to ensure an optimal experience from the user standpoint. The only downside is that these tests can be time-consuming to create and maintain — especially manual tests.

Let's take a look at four ways to speed up your manual UI tests and why you may want to consider adding automation.

#1. Narrow Your Focus

Most organizations have limited testing resources and manual UI testing is already an intensive process. That's why it's important to narrow your focus and prioritize tests.

Risk-based testing is a popular approach that involves focusing on testing for defects with the highest relative risk. 

The classic example of a high-frequency and high-impact defect is a broken password reset process. When a user tries to reset their password, the frequency is constant and the effect is catastrophic when they're locked out of the application. Testing the password reset functionality should be a priority since there's a high relative risk.

To implement risk-based testing, plot each test case on a chart where the X-axis is the feature's impact and the Y-axis is the frequency of occurrence. Manual UI tests should start with test cases that appear in the upper right quadrant and work toward the lower left quadrant. That way, you're using tests to minimize risk rather than arbitrarily assigning them.

#2. Always Use Checklists

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins called checklists the spacecraft's 'fourth crew member', and for all intents and purposes, its real commander. From astronauts to surgeons, checklists reduce cognitive load and ensure that everything is done properly *every time* — like clockwork.

Manual UI testing is no exception.

Most UI test cases include basic information, such as the UI event to test, some test conditions, and the expected result, but the best test cases contain specific checklists.

For example, you may want to include a step-by-step procedural checklist to ensure that a UI test is properly executed, along with a list of data sources for specific dynamic data to test. These lists ensure that manual testers don't miss any critical steps in the process that could lead to inaccurate results.

In addition to these checklists, you can use workflow checklists to ensure that bugs are properly recorded in a bug tracker and assigned to a developer for follow-up.

For example, you might have checklist items for generating screenshots, including status codes, or providing other information that can help developers quickly diagnose problems without having to waste time reproducing the issue.

#3. Automate with Basic Scripts

Many manual UI testers are more familiar with quality assurance processes than writing scripts. They may not be familiar with browser automation tools like Selenium or mobile test automation tools. These tools may not be necessary or appropriate in every scenario (e.g. exploratory testing or UX testing) but basic scripting can be invaluable in some cases.

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TestComplete’s Keyword Driven Testing Capabilities

TestComplete makes it easy to build automated tests without the need to write any code. Using record and replay or keyword-driven tests, you can quickly and easily run functional tests regardless of skill level or coding experience. Record the tests once and run them across a wide range of desktop, web, and mobile technology stacks to ensure everything works.

Unlike many other test automation frameworks that support record and replay functionality, TestComplete's keyword-driven framework enables non-coders to easily customize recorded steps using non-technical keywords. These customizations might include separating test objects, actions, and test data, as well as re-using those elements in other tests.

#4. Automate Functional Tests

UI test automation is often seen as a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Stakeholders don't want to wait for manual UI testing processes, test engineers may struggle to maintain brittle tests with each design iteration, and developers may be frustrated by false positives. But that said, everyone can appreciate the value of UI testing when done properly.

TestComplete addresses these challenges in three different ways in order to unlock the benefits of UI tests in an Agile development workflow:

  • Record and replay functionality means that UI tests can be created in a fraction of the time that it would take to create them with complex scripting.
  • AI-powered object recognition means that UI tests can keep up with an evolving user interface without having to spend hours rewriting code to make them pass.
  • Continuous integration support means that UI tests can be easily integrated with Jenkins or other CI platforms, as well as Jira and other reporting platforms.

There will always be a place for manual UI testing in areas like exploratory testing or user experience testing, but functional UI tests should be automated to dramatically cut down on time and cost. These tests follow more predictable patterns that can easily be converted into an automated test using TestComplete or other UI testing tools.

The Bottom Line

UI testing has a reputation for being costly and time-consuming, but there are several ways that you can cut down on these costs and reap the benefits. By narrowing your focus, using checklists, and embracing automation, you can realize the benefits of UI testing without slowing down the Agile development process or increasing costs.

TestComplete is the industry’s first automation testing tool with a hybrid object and visual recognition engine to test every desktop, web, and mobile application with native BDD-style Gherkin syntax and script or scriptless flexibility. You can easily increase UI test coverage and ensure that you ship high-quality, battle-tested software.

Download a TestComplete free trial to see for yourself how easy it is to get started!