Visual Regression Testing vs. Automated Testing: Which is Right for Your Project?

Visual Regression Testing vs. Automated Testing: Which is Right for Your Project?

There are various software applications available that can perform the same as your software application. Therefore, ensuring your software application stands out and reaches maximum users is vital. This could be achieved by guaranteeing the reliability and quality of the software application. Two well-known testing methodologies for the same are visual regression testing and automation testing. These methodologies have distinctive approaches to accomplish the common objective for software applications.

As the name suggests, visual regression testing aims to identify the changes occurring within the user interface of mobile and web applications. It compares the screenshots taken while executing test cases on multiple devices and versions. Visual regression testing is capable of ensuring pixel-perfect consistency of the software application. It can even enhance the user experience but requires manual effort to set up the standard. 

Automation testing, on the other hand, does not require manual effort. It uses test automation tools and scripts to test the software application automatically. Automation testing can cover many scenarios in less time without much human effort. But at the same time, it requires a significant amount of investment and maintenance. 

Both visual regression testing and automation testing have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, which one should be chosen depends on the software application. In this article, we will learn about both testing methodologies. Their merits and demerits so that it can be easy to choose one according to the software application.

Visual Regression Testing

Visual regression testing is the software testing methodology that lets you see how your code changes affect the user experience by comparing before and after screenshots. It ensures visual consistency after every update. Hence, it is also known as visual snapshot testing or visual testing. Visual tests verify the visual adequacy of your software application’s user interface.  Therefore, it can also be called visual verification testing. This quality assurance measure will check whether the software application’s front end displays the correct content and data.

For those unfamiliar with the term “regression testing,” it is used to ensure that changes made to software do not break elements that normally work properly. From a purely visual perspective, these tests ensure that changes to the software do not introduce style issues. Visual regression testing tools typically take a screenshot of the latest UI  and compare it to the original screenshot. Despite multiple changes, your website needs to match your expectations accurately. Additionally, it should look and function the same in different browsers.

Advantages of Visual Regression Testing

Here is a list of benefits to help you understand whether to choose visual regression testing for your software application. 

  • These are capable of detecting any sort of visual discrepancies.
  • They can easily enhance the overall user experience.
  • Visual Regression testing tools can be easily integrated into CI/CD pipelines to improve test coverage.
  • A single test can test all the elements present on the user interface.
  • It allows developers to pay attention to other real-world problems.
  • It can even detect any small variations present in the user interface.
  • It is capable of performing cross-browser comparisons.

Disadvantages of Visual Regression Testing

With merits, there are demerits too. And they play an equally important role in selecting the testing methodology for the software applications. Here are a few of them. 

  • It requires human effort to set up a baseline.
  • It has limited test coverage.
  • It is prone to false positives.

Automated Testing

Automated testing is the methodology for software testing. It automates the process of approving software applications’ functionality and guaranteeing that they meet necessities before they are deployed into the industry. Automated testing permits testers to conduct certain software tests more rapidly without using human efforts. Automated testing is best suited for expansive or monotonous test cases. Automated software testing uses a sequence of test scripts executed by a test automation tool. Test automation tools review the program, report the results, and compare them with past test runs. Automated test scripts can be composed once and utilized more than once.

Analyzers can apply automated testing to various cases, including unit testing, application programming interfaces (APIs), and regression testing. The biggest advantage of automated software testing is that much of the manual work is streamlined into a set of scripts.  Also, automated tests can be run repeatedly at any time of the day and are an imperative portion of continuous testing, continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD).

Advantages of Automated Testing

Automated testing has several advantages, making it a good choice for testing your software application. Here are a few of them.

  • Automated testing can report the results for the executed test cases in a better way. 
  • It frequently tests the software application, thereby making it bug-free.
  • It can manage the resources efficiently. 
  • It takes less time to test the software application when compared to manual testing. 
  • It provides a faster feedback cycle.
  • The test results are more accurate with automation testing. 
  • It can easily detect more bugs.
  • It provides better test coverage to the software applications.
  • The test scripts here can be reused. 
  • Automated testing helps in developing scalable software applications. 

Disadvantages of Automated Testing

Here is a list of disadvantages to consider while selecting automation testing for software application validation. 

  • Initially, it requires a huge investment to set up the environment. 
  • It is not capable of capturing minor visual differences in the user interface.
  • It requires frequent maintenance, and that adds up to the overhead. 

Choosing the Right Methodology

The choice between visual regression testing and automated testing depends on several factors, including the type of software application, the importance of visual consistency, and available resources.

Here is a list of factors that may help you make an informed decision: 

  • Prioritize User Experience

While developing a software application, if you prioritize user experience, you should focus on providing the end users with a seamless user experience. It includes guaranteeing consistency and fulfilling user interactions with your client. This also involves visual consistency and easy navigation throughout the software applications. By prioritizing user experience, testers point to extend customer fulfillment, increment engagement, and construct long-term dependability.

When prioritizing user experience, we involve client interference in developing the software application. Therefore, we automatically choose visual regression testing to get along with human interference. The visual regression testing here guarantees pixel-perfect consistency and a cleaned client interface. This allows us to provide end users a more comfortable and fulfilling involvement.

  • Complex Functionality

A software application with complex functionality covers a wide range of tasks. This may include heavy processing of data or a complex workflow. It may also carry out complex calculations or integration with some external services. These features tend to misbehave; therefore, ensuring their correct functioning is essential. Furthermore, this assurance leads to enhancing the overall performance along with the seamless user experience. 

Functional complexity plays an important role when considering testing methods such as visual regression testing and automated testing. Automated testing is often preferred to thoroughly verify these functions’ complex logic and behavior and ensure that they behave as expected in different scenarios.

  • Budget and Resources

When choosing between visual regression testing and automation testing, your budget and resources play an important role. Initially, visual regression testing requires less investment as compared to automation testing. However, with technological advancement, visual regression testing demands more human effort and attention. On the other hand, automated testing can consume less time and perform repetitive testing to improve the quality of the software application. Therefore, budget and resource availability can significantly impact the selection of testing methods for a particular software application.

  • Hybrid Approach

When your software application has multiple complex functionalities, you must prioritize the end-user experience simultaneously. You have to choose both testing methodologies. This can be achieved through the hybrid approach. In the hybrid approach, we integrate the strengths of both testing methodologies. This helps develop and deliver a quality software application and a seamless user experience. The hybrid approach balances the need for automation testing to validate the correct functioning of the software application and the manual interference to verify the visual aspects of the software applications. 

  • Integrate into CI/CD Pipeline

Visual regression testing is carried out to detect the bugs present in the software application after every code change. Therefore, integrating your software application into a CI/CD pipeline is the right approach. Here, whenever a code change is done in the software application. The test cases will automatically get executed. Also, this can be done on a cloud platform like LambdaTest. Cloud platform gives access to multiple devices and browser environments. This will let you test your software application on a diverse platform. 

LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform to run manual and automated tests at scale. The platform allows you to perform real-time and automation testing across 3000+ environments and real mobile devices.

Conclusion

Visual regression and automated testing play a significant role in developing reliable and quality software applications. Therefore, choosing one of them depends on the need and objective of the software application. Visual regression testing is best for maintaining visual consistency and providing a seamless user experience. On the other hand, automated testing is good at validating the functionality and effectiveness of the software application. 

The developers and testers must choose the right one according to the software application. For selecting one they must also consider certain factors such as time constraints and complexity possessed by the functionalities of the software applications. You even have a third option based on your software application requirement. That is to go for a hybrid approach involving visual regression and automated testing. The hybrid approach is capable of providing the most effective as well as efficient software applications. Eventually, the correct choice guarantees software application reliability and end-user satisfaction. 

zestful Grace