My technical comrades and I aren’t known for loving fluff. For me, business always been about function over form—quality of product over fanciness of packaging. But in the world of application development, the two have become so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. In fact, in many industries, the User Interface (UI) layer of an application is the only part of a company that customers interact with. From customer support and administrative tasks to the actual purchase and usage, product and package are one and the same. If code breaks on the front end of your app, it doesn’t matter how well it’s supposed to function, because the user will never be able to use that function. That’s why I’m surprised more companies aren’t automating testing at the UI layer.
In our recent survey of IT leaders, 85% reported ambitions to automate UI testing in 2 years, but only 33% currently do. Yet, QA automation for UI is a necessary step to achieve digital maturation—and even innovation. In the age of continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD), automated testing is the only way to ensure your apps and systems are ready for market. And considering UI is, in many cases, the face of your business and the hub of customer experience, it’s imperative that modern businesses automate at this layer.
Automated vs Manual Testing
Many companies we work with understand the value of QA testing, but choose to focus on manual testing, especially for the user interface. This makes sense, as what you’re testing for in UI is how real people will make decisions on your website or app. But manual testing is by no means comprehensive, and can often cost significantly more than automation. Moreover, when automated testing is built into your Agile development process, you can test code as you build, and perform regression testing that ensures new code doesn’t break old code. This will break bottlenecks and give you peace of mind when you go to market.
Why at the UI Layer?
In the survey mentioned above, almost half of respondents reported QA automation over 25% at the services layer, so IT leaders acknowledge the value of the process. Still, there are some unacknowledged benefits of automating UI tests.
Let’s start with the business benefits. The User Interface is a reflection of your brand. If you pulled a can of beans off the grocery store shelf and the lid was unsealed, it wouldn’t matter to you how delicious the product inside is. Packaging matters. And in the case of applications, a brilliant UI can even help upsell and cross-sell customers as it attracts higher usage and loyalty through intuitive and strategic design.
Functionally, automation vastly expands your capacity for testing the UI layer. Some applications communicate with more than 10 third-party services, adding layers of complications and more opportunities for failure. Moreover, users interact with apps on any number of browsers, devices, and operating systems. A machine can pore through every action a customer can possibly take on your app—even seemingly irrational actions that a human tester might miss—on every platform imaginable in a fraction of the time it would take in a manual process.
Automated UI tests are also crucial in an agile environment, where many developers are working on the same code. This can reduce bottlenecks, as one person doesn’t own entire pieces of code. And it allows your developers to “fail faster,” identifying problems as their created so they can be solved just as fast. And as you add more functionality, automated regression tests make your apps more scalable, identifying gaps and incompatibility in code as it’s being built.
Overcoming Roadblocks to Agile/DevOps Nirvana
One of the greatest values that Pyramid Solutions offers clients is our knowledge of how industry leaders operate their development, data analytics, and cloud practices; that’s because we’ve often worked with them to get them to maturity. The top challenges for companies facing bottlenecks in improving their QA automation are:
- Poor communication of results to business roles
- Struggles with strategy and direction
- Lack of automation skills and experience
- Difficulty sourcing quality resources
- Developing end to end testing for a highly interconnected system
- Finding time to create test scripts, given rapid timelines
- Inability to test complex matrices
When these clients approach us, Pyramid can step in as their entire QA org. We have the ability to source top talent, know the strategies that work for the most innovative companies, and have deep experience improving QA automation for businesses of every size.
As you work to reach Agile/DevOps Nirvana, don’t be afraid to call in our consultants to help identify and overcome roadblocks. We can get as involved or as hands-off as you want, and you can sleep well knowing you have QA experts on your side.