Does Front-End Web Development Demand A Different Testing Strategy?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the consumers of everything digital are growing visually and technologically more sophisticated each day. Today’s digital landscape demands smooth interactions, clean designs, logical usability, and seamless interactions. Iterative product development has become more mainstream.

This means that taking feedback from customers to build products and services that they would like to use is becoming an accepted way to build better products.

It is because of this growing need to create products that user’s love and will continue to use, that front-end development is rapidly becoming popular in the world of software development.

What is Front-end Development?

Front-end development works by combining design layouts and programming that powers the visuals and user interactions. The objective of front-end development is to create the visual display so that a user can interact with these displays smoothly. Owing to the large number of devices and device formats that are bombarding the market today, front-end development is becoming even more relevant to ensure great user experiences and accessibility. This also helps ensure that the information display is relevant and readable irrespective of the screen size. The objective of front-end development is also to ensure the website is displayed correctly across different browsers, operating systems, and devices and hence demands careful planning by the developer.
As the focus on usability and design increase incrementally, developers and product design teams can no longer work in silos. Collaboration has become a key in the world of software development and front-end development further cements this development aspect.

Testing in the Front-end World:

Front-end development is in itself quite complex and hence demands a comprehensive testing strategy. When doing front-end development, testing strategies have to cover the Presentation Layer (user interface), while the Business Layer (Application User Interface) and the Database layer will be covered by back-end testing.
Front end testing is performed on the GUI and is done to check the overall functionality of the application. Unlike back-end testing that involves databases and business logic testing, front-end testing does not demand any information storage in the database but needs the testers to be knowledgeable about the business demands and have a comprehensive understanding of automation tools and frameworks. Tests that fall under the purview of front-end testing are:

  • Unit Tests
  • Integration Tests
  • End to End Test
  • Acceptance Tests
  • Visual regression testing
  • Accessibility and Performance Tests

Here’s a look at a few considerations that front-end testing teams need to factor into a comprehensive and fool-proof testing strategy.

  1. What are you Testing?
    Front-end testers need to be clear about their testing objectives. Understanding functionality requirements and detailed specifications of requirements from all invested stakeholders are essential when creating a front-end testing strategy. Here while the focus in on bug detection, a greater focus is on meeting the functionality requirements and ensuring that all functional elements of a web page are displaying and working as intended.
  2. Who are you Testing for?
    Since front-end development focuses on usability and the user interface, front-end testers need to understand who their target audience is in order to understand customer preferences such as which devices do they prefer using, which OS and browser combinations are popular amongst them, what are the bandwidth and connection speeds they are used to, etc. This helps in creating a simpler testing strategy and helps testers prioritize the test methodology with ease.
  3. What are your Limits?
    Understanding the testing project limits is also essential during front-end testing so that testers do not have to depend on the ‘that’s good enough’ statement. Therefore, it is crucial to identify realistic testing budgets, including the project’s timeline. This helps ensure that testing is not rushed and to identify the main use cases to fulfill exactly what your target user base demands.
  4. What are your device and browser support targets?
    Front-end testing has a lot to do with device and browser support. Thus it becomes essential to define these support levels. However, front-end testing teams have to ensure that all content must be readable, all functionalities must work, navigation must work, and there is a minimal deviation from the approved graphic design.
  5. What is your performance target?
    Determining the performance target of the web application being developed is crucial for front-end testing to ensure satisfied clients and users. They have to agree on an acceptable score on say, Google’s PageSpeed Insights, to ensure that the application is performing optimally. Starting with the known pain points, creating good base-line tests to enable high-level testing, increasing accountability, and constantly revisiting the code base to ensure that the current implementation makes sense helps in achieving the set performance targets.
  6. Selecting the Right Testing Tools:
    The right testing tool is a formidable weapon for the front-end testers. While there are a number of testing tools available, choosing one that is not only cost effective but is also easy to use is key. There are quite a few factors to consider during the testing tool selection for front-end testing. The tool must make adding bugs, issues, tasks in an orderly manner easy, and helps in assigning bugs to the right team members with expected dates of completion. It must allow teams to upload screenshots, documents etc. related to the bugs, assist in detailed reporting, and aid testing to match the speed of development.

Front-end testing teams need to ensure that they invest their time and energy in building a comprehensive testing strategy and attempt to limit the time spent on fixing regressions. This ensures that more time can be invested in feature development and in making the existing code stronger and more resilient. Given that the end objective of front-end and back-end development are not the same, it is thus inevitable to have a different testing strategy for front-end development.

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