How to Test the Graphical User Interface: a Comprehensive Guide

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How to Test the Graphical User Interface: a Comprehensive Guide

Find out the fundamentals of Graphical User Interfaces, its testing methodologies, and the testing approach.

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Learn how to test your Graphical User Interface.

Most people interact with software applications daily, whether it’s on a tablet, smartphone, or computer, because of the rapid growth in mobile technology, the web, and app development industry is more competitive than ever before. This is why popular software programs are visually appealing, easy-to-use, and stable. The only way to achieve this, apart from the effective development, is with thorough software testing.

The central feature of any software program is a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows seamless interaction. Users have expectations and want to easily navigate around an app to effectively achieve the result. Without software testing and QA, there’s more risk in not meeting user standards, which will ultimately affect client satisfaction and profit.

You may also like: Java-Based UI Frameworks

This GUI testing guide is a comprehensive resource for gaining an in-depth understanding of the importance and implementation of software testing for UI.

painting of spreadsheets

GUI Fundamentals

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is the presentation layer of a software program, website, or mobile app. Unlike the older, text-based Command Line Interface, the GUI is a modern graphic representation of the underlying functionality that makes it easier for general users to interact with software applications.

The backend functionality manages the business logic, processes, data and transactions, and performs calculations before displaying the results to the user through the frontend (the GUI). Essentially, the user interface (UI) encompasses all user features and functions available in the program. This in itself highlights the value and importance of GUI testing.

UI Elements

User interface elements are added components that allow the user to interact with a program and GUI testing is all about validating these elements.

The list of possible components is extensive but the common ones include:

  1. Text Boxes to input data.
  2. Check Boxes for multiple options.
  3. Radio Buttons to choose one option.
  4. Command Buttons for actions.
  5. Social media sharing icons.

Additionally, knowing the behavior and different states of UI elements is crucial, for example:

  1. Disabled/Enabled.
  2. Unfilled/Filled.
  3. Masked/Unmasked.
  4. Option Defaults.
  5. Before/After Mouse Hover.

Key UI Criteria

There’s a lot more substance to a graphical user interface than looking pretty with colorful buttons.

The GUI and its actionable functionality is the user experience so good design and planning are vital to fulfilling the scope for predefined conditions:

  1. Stylesheets and aesthetics.
  2. The browser or operating system compatibility.
  3. Data validation and data integrity.
  4. Easy navigation and usability.
  5. Apply different modes based on security.
  6. Execute user actions and shortcut keys.

shortcut keys

Users observe and feel the application’s design. In cases where the interface makes the user uncomfortable, like having low-quality images and text, or confusing menu structures, they will waste no time in exiting the program. If it’s a mobile app, it will probably be uninstalled within seconds.

Testing Methodologies

Whether software testing and QA are outsourced or managed in-house, it’s an essential part of any production process.

Software testing methodologies refer to using different functional and non-functional testing strategies to verify that the software program meets certain standards and that all actions can be accessed and executed without errors.

Some examples of these methodologies include:

  • User Acceptance Testing.
  • Functional Testing.
  • Regression Testing.
  • Unit Testing.
  • Performance Testing.
  • GUI Testing.

Now, with a clearer understanding of the GUI’s role and different testing methods, let’s explain the GUI testing techniques in more detail.

GUI Testing Approach

How does a tester assess the aspects and extent of UI testing?

Think like a user. Identify the obvious and the obscure, and focus on the design, flow, and UI components.

The more common problems to look out for are inconsistent spacing and alignment issues, UI controls not behaving correctly, misaligned data and spelling errors on labels, and browser-specific issues.

Automated vs Manual

Software testing for the UI can be automated, exploratory, or both, with the latter being the most effective as it provides the best UI test coverage.

While automation consistently retests the existing elements, manual testers can focus on new features and work in progress. Intelligent testing not only improves product quality, but it builds the foundation for creating automated test suites.

person thinking about the stages of development

Implementing GUI test automation is a time-consuming exercise that could pay-off in the long term as long as its constantly maintained and updated. In some cases, manual testing is quicker and more effective, so knowing what to automate is key.

GUI Testing Tools

Choosing the right testing automation tool will determine the success or failure of its deployment. Points to keep in mind when assessing automation tools:

  1. It should be able to support and automate the technologies used to develop the software application.
  2. The ability to write and update tests, and deploy to test environments should be uncomplicated and painless for the testing team.
  3. Use a tool that provides technical support and keeps up to date with the latest technologies, web browsers, and operating systems.
  4. Make use of trial periods to thoroughly examine the different GUI tools, such as Ranorex, Selenium, QTP, and Cucumber.

Checklists and Compliance

Testing the design and UI component functionality is multi-faceted and requires good judgment, attention to detail, and defined scopes.

A QA engineer should note all aspects of the frontend interface that include color schemes, fonts, alignment, hyperlinks, content, UI components, and expected user behavior.

Below are noteworthy aspects of user interface testing.

UI Components

  1. Check positioning, size, width, length, and alignment of all UI elements.
  2. Test acceptance of data entry in fields for text, numbers, special and invalid characters.
  3. Execute the software functionality with the UI.
  4. Check Error reporting and correct message display without spelling mistakes.
  5. Use good quality images and clear text.
  6. Test in different screen resolutions and check the screen/page resizing.
  7. Test page scrollbars and the state and behavior of UI controls.

Behavior and Usability

The following list includes common expectations for program behavior, presentation, and usability.

  1. The application opens with a double-click.
  2. Define behavior for running multiple instances of the application.
  3. Program information displays the application name, version and other relevant detail.
  4. Window title bars and naming conventions are consistent.
  5. The user has the option to confirm closing the application and receive a warning for any unsaved work.
  6. Dynamic elements such as progress bars or hourglass icons indicate if processes need time to load or finish.
  7. The online help that is accessed through the Help menu and F1 key.
  8. Tab navigation is enabled with the order running left to right, top to bottom.
  9. Mandatory fields are highlighted with validation.
  10. Window commands have a corresponding shortcut key.

Value of Testing

Today, the majority of companies and small businesses use software programs to manage, operate, and execute business processes to effectively promote saleable products and services and to achieve business goals. So, software stability and usability are business-critical.

With web and mobile applications being rapidly absorbed by consumers, the demand is increasing for faster, smarter, and more graphical apps. Therefore, robust and user-friendly software is key to any successful application.

Tutorial: A Practical GUI Test

The following screen is tagged with test references below. This is a practical use case example of a standard UI test.

UI-1: Check the page label, font, and position.

UI-2: Check the correct page heading and correct font.

UI-3: Verify cursor focus on the default field. Test which fields are mandatory by clicking Next with a blank form. Check field labels and acceptance of valid and invalid characters. Check the alignment and position of the text box.

UI-4: Check field labels and acceptance of valid and invalid characters.
Check the alignment and position of the text box.

UI-5: Check field labels and acceptance of valid and invalid characters.
Check the alignment and position of the text box.

UI-6: Check the correct message with no spelling errors. Test the message by entering the permitted and prohibited characters.

UI-7: Test hyperlinks and pop-ups.

UI-8: Check field labels and acceptance of valid and invalid characters.
Check the alignment and position of the text box.

UI-9: Check field labels and acceptance of valid and invalid characters.
Save an unmatched password.
Check the alignment and position of the text box.

UI-10: Test the icon shows/hides the password.
Check position and image quality.

UI-11: Check the correct message with no spelling errors. Test the message by entering the permitted and prohibited characters.

UI-12: Test hyperlinks and pop-ups.

UI-13: Check control position and clarity.

Test form submission.

Check the control position and clarity.

Further Reading

What Differentiates User Experience and User Interface?

Developers and GUI Tools — Love 'em or Hate 'em?

The Difference Between UI and UX Design

software testing and qa services ,qa and software testing

Published at DZone with permission of Yana Andyol . See the original article here.

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