Visual Regression Testing vs. Manual UI Testing: Finding the Right Balance for Your Project


When navigating the software testing landscape, weighing the pros and cons is important. Finding the right balance between Visual Regression Testing and Manual UI Testing in the quest for a seamless experience is crucial.


VRT's automated capabilities promise efficiency in catching any visual flaws. However, with its human touch, Manual UI Testing brings a nuanced understanding.


This blog explores how the dynamic interplay of automated VRT with the contextual insights provided by manual testing can be explored. This will ensure a user-friendly, digital world without losing sight of the nuanced elements that human testers bring.

What is Visual Regression Testing?

By comparing screenshots taken before and after code execution, visual regression testing can ensure that code changes impact the user's experience. It is also known as Visual Testing or visual snapshot testing.


Visual testing is a way to verify the suitability of the visual aspects of the interface of a software application. Visual testing or visual validation are other terms we can use. This quality assurance measure aims to ensure that the front end of an app displays correct data and content.


Regression Testing is a term that you may not be familiar with. It ensures that any changes to software you make do not cause breakage of elements previously working well. This testing is a visual test that ensures any software changes don't lead to style issues.


Visual regression testing tools usually take screenshots of the most recent user interface and compare them with the original screenshots. The website should still render exactly as expected despite several modifications. The web page should look and function the same on various browsers.

Why is Visual Regression Testing Important?


Modern applications can adapt to customers' needs and evolve across browsers and versions. This emphasizes the importance of manageable functionality and layout. Visual testing ensures the user interface works across all devices, resolutions, and browsers. Early visual regression testing, in conjunction with developer tests, is crucial to detect discrepancies. This will save resources and help you find any issues. For business success, it is not enough to have flawless functionality. The application also needs a fantastic interface. Visual regression testing is a way to ensure a high-quality user experience. It increases credibility and trust for designs of high value applicable in many sectors, such as banking, travel and airline, marketing, etc. This is essential to quality control, as it prevents costly visual bugs from reaching production.

What is UI Testing?


User Interface Testing, also called UI Acceptance Testing, is a form of testing where we test the UI to ensure it works smoothly. If any bugs are present that may interfere with the user's behavior or do not meet the criteria.


UI testing, also known as GUI Testing, evaluates user interface elements in software to make sure they work as expected.


This usually involves evaluating and testing visual elements that users interact with. It is important to verify the functionality of these elements and their performance. UI Testing is a way to ensure that software meets user expectations and needs.


UI testing is only possible if you know how users will interact with your website. When performing UI tests, the tester attempts to imitate the user's behavior to determine how the user will interact and if the website functions as intended.


A minor UI issue, like a problem with the CTA, could prevent a website visitor from completing the lead form and, therefore, never converting. Who knows if this user was ultimately the one who increased your ROI?


The web contains many elements written in CSS, JavaScript, and other languages. UI testing captures the elements to test and assert on them. It focuses on the aesthetic and structural aspects of the site, as these are more important to the users than how the data is stored in the database.


The UI (User Interface Testing) covers the interactive aspect of the website. This is because the website element may be connected to a keyboard, mouse, or other device the user uses to interact.

Why is UI Testing Important?


The average size of a website has grown over the years. Websites are becoming larger and now have hundreds of pages. A single page can contain hundreds of components to build a complete site.


This puts a heavy load on the web server. Any web developer would not want to see a slow website. This scenario can be tested as part of UI testing, which will improve performance.


A study conducted by Google found that 53% of users abandon a task if it takes more than three seconds to load. JavaScript and CSS can be optimized to reduce the delay. To improve website performance, it is important to test the user interface.

Visual Regression Testing vs. Manual UI Testing: Finding the Right Balance for Your Project

Finding the right balance requires a testing strategy tailored to your project's unique requirements. You can create a testing regime that incorporates the strengths of visual regression testing and manual UI testing. This will ensure that your software is robust and that the user experience remains optimal despite the constant changes in development and iteration.


Let’s find the right balance for your project:

1) Critical User Flows


The critical user flows are the main paths users follow to complete vital tasks within a digital product. They include important functionalities such as onboarding and checkout.


Focusing on these key user flows when balancing visual regression testing and manual UI testing is crucial. Manual testing is the best way to navigate these paths and detect subtle issues that automated tools may miss. This human touch provides a seamless experience for the user.


Automated testing verifies visual consistency efficiently, providing a holistic testing approach for these mission-critical flows. This combination of strategies ensures robust functionality and user-friendliness for essential product interactions.

2) Scenario-Based Allocation


Scenario-based allocation is a strategic way to distribute testing tasks according to their complexity. Manual testing is used for complex scenarios such as user interaction, edge cases, and complex workflows where human intuition can be invaluable.


Automated testing, on the other hand, handles repetitive tasks, scenarios involving large amounts of data, and regression tests efficiently. This approach maximizes the strengths of visual regression testing and manual UI testing, allowing for a comprehensive testing strategy.

3) Regression and Integration Testing


Integration and Regression Testing are essential to maintaining the functionality and stability of a system.


Automated tools such as visual regression testing often make regression testing easier. It ensures that recent code modifications do not negatively affect existing functionality. It protects against any unintended effects that could occur during development.


Integration Testing evaluates the interaction between the different modules or components of the system to verify that they work seamlessly together.


To identify and address potential issues early on in the development cycle and ensure a robust software ecosystem, it is important to balance comprehensive integration testing and automated regression tests.

4)  Exploratory Testing


Exploratory testing is a dynamic, adaptable method beyond predefined test cases. The testers explore the software application and interact with it intuitively to discover defects, usability problems, and possible risks.


Unlike scripted tests, exploratory testing relies on the testers' creativity, domain knowledge, and ability to simulate realistic user scenarios.


This method is especially effective at identifying unexpected problems, providing insight into the user's experience, and validating overall software functionality.


Exploratory testing adds flexibility and intuition to testing strategies, allowing for the discovering of subtle issues that automated testing may have missed.

5) Accessibility Checks


Accessibility tests are essential to ensure that people with different abilities can use digital products. Accessibility checks are conducted using automated tools and manual assessments to ensure compliance with standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.


Automated tools like LambdaTest efficiently identify common accessibility issues, such as the absence of alternative text for images and inadequate color contrast. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that allows you to test your website in over 3000+ test environments including real device cloud.


Manual assessments provide a more nuanced understanding and address issues like keyboard navigation, screen reader compatibility, etc. It is important to strike a balance between automated checks for accessibility and human-driven assessments to create a digital space that is truly accessible.

6) Test Environment Variability


The test environment is an important consideration for the testing process. It encompasses the different conditions that a software program may be used in. Manual testing is a great way to adapt to variable environments. Human testers can explore different setups and configurations.


This adaptability ensures the software behaves consistently across different conditions, such as browsers, operating systems, and devices.


Visual Regression Testing, for example, automates repetitive tasks in various environments. This ensures that the core functionality of the software remains intact. Automated and manual testing must be balanced to ensure the testing reflects actual usage scenarios.

7) Feedback Loops and Collaboration


A successful testing strategy is built on feedback loops and collaborative efforts. Collaboration between testers and developers is key to the dynamic interaction between visual regression testing and manual UI testing.


Manual testers can provide context and nuanced perspective that improve the effectiveness of test scripts created by automated tools such as VRT.


The two-way communication allows automated testing to address real-world scenarios, while manual testing can benefit from the efficiency and accuracy of automated tools.

Regular feedback loops encourage continuous improvement. This allows both manual and automatic testing processes to evolve in a collaborative manner and align themselves with the changing needs of the software lifecycle.

8) Continuous Evaluation and Adaptation


To achieve the right balance between manual UI testing and visual regression testing, it is essential that you continuously evaluate and adapt. This involves regularly evaluating the effectiveness of your testing strategy and adapting it to meet the project's changing demands.


Teams can stay agile and ensure their testing practices are responsive to changing requirements, user expectations, and development priorities. This iterative method allows for the optimization of manual and automated test efforts.


It fosters a dynamic environment where testing continuously contributes to the overall reliability and quality of the software throughout its entire lifecycle.


Final Words


An effective testing strategy requires balancing Visual Regression Testing and Manual UI Testing. Each method has its own strengths -- precision and efficiency from automated VRT and nuanced insights from manual testing. The right balance is like orchestrating a harmonious partnership where automation's speed complements human intuition.


A robust testing strategy includes scenarios-based allocations, exploratory testings, accessibility checks, and variable testing environments. This dynamic balance allows for not only the detection of subtle visual differences but also the validation and verification of user-centric aspects of manual testing. The result is a robust software product that is user-friendly.

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