Visual regression testing stands as a critical quality assurance method within the realm of software development. Its role guarantees the sustained consistency and absence of errors in the user interface, even when incorporating new features or implementing code modifications. In an era where user experience reigns supreme, even the most minor visual element disparities can significantly influence a product’s success.
To safeguard the effectiveness of your visual regression testing endeavors, it becomes imperative to adhere to best practices and adopt strategies that minimize the likelihood of introducing visible flaws into your application.
In this blog, we will delve into various essential tips and techniques to elevate your visual regression testing process, ultimately contributing to delivering a seamless and aesthetically pleasing user experience.
What Is Visual Regression Testing?
Visual regression testing, also known as visual validation testing, constitutes a form of regression testing that ensures that alterations to the software program do not negatively impact its Graphical User Interface (GUI). Instead of centering its focus on the software’s functionality, it centers on validating its visual aspects. The primary goal of visual regression testing is to ascertain that all optical components are correctly presented across various web browsers, devices, and platforms. These graphic elements encompass buttons, menus, icons, text, and fields.
There exist significant distinctions between visual testing and functional testing. While visual testing inspects the application’s appearance, functional testing is primarily concerned with the application’s operational functionality. Through compelling visual regression testing, QA teams can instill confidence that users will encounter a visually pleasing experience. Testers are tasked with assessing numerous aesthetic attributes of optical elements, including:
- Visibility (ensuring the element is perceptible to the user)
- Readability (verifying that text and information on the component are easily legible)
- Alignment (ascertaining that the UI element is appropriately situated concerning other features)
- Consistency across diverse screen resolutions (confirming that the layout remains uniform on different screens)
Why Is Visual Regression Testing Important?
Visual regression testing has gained increasing significance in today’s continuous integration processes, safeguarding against layout disruptions as software evolves across versions and web browsers. Numerous organizations employ this approach to capture snapshots of specific web pages, effectively documenting their evolution from one iteration to the next. Moreover, considering the multitude of operating systems, web browsers, screen resolutions, and devices available, ensuring that the user interface (UI) maintains its integrity across all these variables is imperative. Even minor UI discrepancies can lead to revenue losses, as users can be irked by these visual glitches, which are both irritating and inconvenient.
For instance, imagine you’re in the banking sector, and your customers rely on an online mobile banking application. Some users need help locating the Submit button on the screen after entering all the required information, causing frustration in their user experience. Upon investigation, you might discover that the submit button is concealed on screens with a particular resolution on Android phones, rendering it invisible to all Android users with that specific screen size. The application’s functionality remained intact in this scenario, but users could not complete their intended actions due to the visual issue.
Visual validation testing is strongly recommended in areas directly impacting your brand, such as responsive websites and mobile apps. It is also advisable for marketing websites, content management systems, and consumer-oriented systems like those in the travel and banking industries. Given its significance, businesses should allocate substantial time and resources to visual testing. Furthermore, when employed with existing developer tests, it aids in the early detection of visible flaws in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
Tips For Improving Your Visual Regression Testing
Enhancing your visual regression testing process is vital to guaranteeing your applications’ or websites’ sustained optical coherence amid changes or updates. To assist you in this endeavor, here are some recommendations:
Choose a reliable tool
The initial phase involves the selection of an appropriate tool for conducting visual regression testing. Many tools are accessible, including Applitools, BackstopJS, and Cypress. When making your choice, it’s crucial to consider specific tool features. These may encompass the tool’s capability to capture complete page screenshots or particular elements, perform meticulous pixel-by-pixel comparisons, or employ AI-driven algorithms for analysis.
Consider the tool’s integration potential with your existing testing framework and CI/CD pipeline. Evaluating its capacity for dynamic content, animations, and responsive design intricacies is also essential. Lastly, assess the tool’s customization options, such as setting threshold values, defining regions to be ignored, and configuring reporting preferences.
Establish a consistent environment
The second phase of implementing visual regression testing involves the creation of a uniform setting for capturing and comparing screenshots. It necessitates the utilization of identical browser configurations, viewport dimensions, and devices for both the baseline and test images. Maintaining consistent data and application states throughout this process is essential.
Furthermore, establishing a dependable and isolated testing environment, such as a local server, mock server, or staging environment, is crucial to minimize the influence of external variables that could impact visual appearance. Lastly, ensure the adoption of a standardized naming convention and folder structure for organizing your screenshots and baseline images.
Update baselines regularly
The third stage in the visual regression testing process involves regularly maintaining your baselines. It entails a series of actions, including reviewing the outcomes of your tests and making decisions to accept or reject the identified alterations. Additionally, it necessitates updating your baselines whenever deliberate changes are introduced to your web application’s design or functionality. You should also remove archival baselines that have become obsolete or no longer valid. Lastly, it’s imperative to conduct tests at regular intervals while closely monitoring patterns and metrics to ensure the continued effectiveness of your testing efforts.
Optimize test coverage and performance
Enhancing test coverage and performance constitutes the fourth phase in executing visual regression testing. To achieve this, giving precedence to your web application’s critical and high-risk sections is essential. A blend of full-page and element-level screenshots allows for the comprehensive capture of the most crucial elements.
You can further enhance precision by utilizing smart selectors or custom attributes to pinpoint the aspects requiring testing. Using hooks or callbacks to manipulate the Document Object Model (DOM) or trigger events before or after screenshot capture proves advantageous. Lastly, you can implement parallelization or batching techniques to expedite visual regression tests.
Document and communicate visual baselines
The fifth step in the visual regression testing process entails documenting and disseminating your visual baselines. You must compose lucid and concise test cases and accompanying descriptions for your visual regression tests to accomplish this. Furthermore, employing comments or annotations proves helpful in elucidating the objectives and extent of your screenshots and baselines.
Consider utilizing a version control system or a cloud-based service like LambdaTest to store and oversee your screenshots and baselines efficiently. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform. It means you can run manual and automated tests at scale with its impressive array of 3000+ real devices, browsers, and OS combinations. LambdaTest significantly enhances your efforts in visual regression testing by providing a range of valuable features. It offers a wide range of features that we will look at in the following sections.
How Cloud-Based Services Like LambdaTest Improve Visual Regression Testing?
Cloud-based services can significantly improve visual regression testing in several ways.
With LambdaTest, you can scale your visual regression testing infrastructure up or down based on your testing needs. You can easily add more testing resources during peak testing periods and scale down when the demand decreases. This ensures that you can perform testing at any scale without significant upfront hardware investments.
Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform Testing
This feature typically offers various virtual machines and real devices with various operating systems and browsers. It allows you to perform visual regression testing on diverse environments, ensuring that your application looks and functions correctly for all users, regardless of their device or browser choice.
LambdaTest is excellent for parallel testing, enabling you to run multiple tests concurrently. It can significantly reduce testing time, allowing you to get faster feedback on visual regression tests and accelerate your development and release cycles.
Automated Testing Pipelines
It also integrates your continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, making automating visual regression tests easy. It ensures that tests are run automatically with each code change, helping you catch and fix visual regressions early in development.
Device and Browser Coverage
With LambdaTest, you can access many real devices and browsers, including mobile devices and obscure browser versions. This extensive coverage helps ensure your application is compatible with the widest user environments.
It also provides a feature that helps you manage your snapshot capabilities, allowing you to capture and store baseline images of your application’s UI. This makes detecting and flagging any differences or regressions in subsequent test runs easier.
Reporting and Analysis
LambdaTest provides detailed reports and test results analysis. It helps teams identify the root causes of visual regressions, making prioritizing and addressing issues easier.
Enhancing your visual regression testing procedures is essential for upholding the quality and consistency of your web applications. By adhering to the recommendations presented in this article, you can simplify your testing workflow, minimize instances of false positives, and ensure the uniformity of your application’s user interface across various versions and platforms. It’s important to remember that visual regression testing is not a one-time undertaking but an ongoing commitment to detecting visible flaws early and delivering a seamless user experience.
Embracing automation, establishing a robust baseline, and fostering effective collaboration among your development and testing teams will significantly bolster the efficacy of your visual regression testing strategy. Therefore, dedicate the time and effort to implementing these best practices, and you’ll make substantial progress toward a more dependable and visually uniform web application.