Tools for testing web user interfaces 23:16 on Thursday

So the blog is not dead yet. I’m cross-posting this from Google+ though.

Do you have recommendations for tools or best practices for testing web app UIs against required user flows?

After working nine months as a UX designer in a project, I got promoted yesterday to a front-end developer. Exciting! Instantly I got to experience first hand the agony of making sure every possible UI flow works after changing the logic of a jQuery-filled JSP page. This kind of changes are oh-so-easy when all you need to care about is a non-working wireframe…

And yes, it actually feels like a promotion to go from being a fancy-ass UX designer in the project to being a front-end UI developer. First of all, learning new skills (JSP in this case) is always good. Second, by committing UI edits straight to the dev repository, I’m able to make small user experience enhancing edits that would otherwise be too demanding to communicate to the dev team, edits that would probably be considered too much effort to justify the time spent understanding the request and delivering the change, and basically details that run the risk of being prioritized below everything else.

As we’re working on a rather complex web app, it feels especially important to make sure my minor edits to a bit of JavaScript do not break any of the possible user flows in the middle of a multi-page, ajax-enhanced, dynamic form. So, any ideas how to keep track of these things is greatly appreciated.

4 Responses to “Tools for testing web user interfaces”


  1. Niko Nevala Says:

    In my experience, building UI level test automation for non-trivial front-end heavy web application is a very time consuming process!

    So instead of adding a little something to your front-end development flow, this would probably be more like a full-time position for a test engineer. Or two.

    User interfaces tend to be full of surprising and “implicit” state. This makes capturing even the simple journeys through the interface quite difficult and time consuming.

    And in addition to the upfront work of setting up the tests, they must of course be maintained. More work! And the more tests you have, the bigger task the maintenance becomes.

    As an alternative I would put effort into good unit-level test suites. They are easier to produce, easier to maintain and have tangible benefits from the beginning. The remaining integration and UI level testing I would perform manually.

    But anyway, check out Selenium: http://seleniumhq.org/ I think it is still the most popular choice for browser automation.

  2. Janne Says:

    Selenium (seleniumhq.org) is fairly popular. It’s sometimes a bit infuriating, but at least it’s a fairly well known problem set.

  3. Niko Says:

    Selenium is overkill for my needs, I would need something more along the lines of a great Excel template. I’ve tried creating various spreadsheets myself for tracking changes but I’m certainly not even close to a template I could use for other projects as well.

  4. Niko Says:

    Having said that and taking another look, Selenium IDE seems worth checking out.