When to Run Automated UI Tests: 3 Questions to Ask

 In Blog, Most Recent, Web Application Testing, Agile & DevOps Testing

Whether you’re just starting your software testing or have very mature testing processes, you know that UI testing is an essential part of any test strategy. Yet this area of testing often comes with various challenges, presenting a major need for automated UI tests.

Unlike unit or service-level tests, UI tests need to adapt to a constantly changing interface. That, coupled with increasingly complex application features, makes UI tests especially time-consuming to create and maintain over time.

Automated UI tests have helped organizations avoid spending excessive time and resources on UI testing, but as with any other area of automation testing, it’s important to do so strategically.

With that in mind, this article will address three important questions to consider when deciding whether to automate your next UI test.

How do these automated UI tests fit within our test strategy?

When deciding whether automating a UI test is the right move, it’s critical to first understand how this automated UI test will fit within your overall test strategy. Taking a big-picture approach earlier on will help you determine whether the initial effort of automating UI tests is worthwhile or necessary.

An organization’s test strategy can take a variety of forms, from the more traditional pyramid structure to alternatives like the cathedral structure. Testing teams adopt these different strategy models in order to allocate time and resources to tests proportionally, in order to best support the application. This prevents organizations from doing only one type of software testing while neglecting another.

Here are some common ways to determine whether a UI test will benefit from automation. Keep in mind that these questions can apply to other areas of test automation as well:

  • Will this automated test help reduce a testing bottleneck?
  • Will automating this test help us gain more in-depth insights?
  • Will doing UI test automation reduce testing time and resources in this case, either in the short-term or long-term?
  • Will this automated test positively impact a critical part of my application?
  • Does this test characterize a key behavior that users display when interacting with the application?

Are my UI tests reusable?

For any automated test, reusability is key. Reusing test steps is an important test design best practice for several reasons. First, it tests the elements’ functionality in a variety of ways. Second, tests that reuse steps mimic how your end-users interact with your application more closely, since users often engage with elements of an application in multiple ways.

While reusing test steps is a good automation testing best practices in general, this is especially important in the case of automated UI testing. Since the main purpose of UI testing is to confirm that the application is handling user inputs correctly, it is critical to mirror how an end-user will interact with the application as closely as possible.

In addition, reusing test steps addresses a major complaint against UI testing, namely the amount of time it takes to test the UI properly. With applications changing constantly in order to offer a better user experience, UI testing is especially time-consuming when it comes to creating resilient and scalable tests.

Building tests out of reusable components addresses this issue. This is especially true when using tools like TestCraft, which automatically apply changes made to one element to other test flows using the same element.

Example of an automated UI test using reusable components

Example of an automated UI test using reusable components

Therefore, if you see that you can potentially reuse your existing UI tests for future test flows, then they are likely to be great candidates for automation.

Will automating this UI test make it more resilient?

As previously mentioned, it’s often a big challenge for testing teams to create resilient UI tests. With many organizations updating their UI’s frequently in response to user feedback, UI tests are especially difficult to maintain.

If you’re deciding whether to run an automated UI test, consider if it will help to automate these test cases with a tool that leverages AI or machine learning. With certain automation testing tools, AI can help identify UI elements that change often while running tests. This will reduce the amount of time spent on test maintenance significantly, thereby reducing the time you spend on UI testing overall.

When you’re considering which automated UI tests would benefit most from leveraging AI, consider using it for test flows that run often and repetitively. This is where you will see the most impact, since these are likely the UI tests that take up the most amount of maintenance time.

Automated UI tests offer other benefits as well. By making your UI tests more resilient, you can either increase or deepen your test coverage by adding more UI tests to your automation suite. Alternatively, if you already feel that your UI testing is very robust, you can use automation to ensure that UI testing doesn’t make up an overwhelming part of your test automation strategy.

Automated UI tests have a lot of potential

Creating a flawless user experience with your application has become more important than ever. But doing the necessary UI testing in order to achieve this goal does not have to be challenging.

Automating your UI tests strategically has the potential to make a large impact on your test automation efforts, from increasing your test coverage to shortening test maintenance time.

See how this computer software company adapted some of these automated UI testing best practices here:

Computer software case study

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