The unsuccessful launch of the 2013 Affordable Care Act's web application remains a significant point of reference for anyone that's yet to grasp the importance of web testing. The website was billed to handle tens of thousands of logins flatlined at once during a trial run involving a few hundred users some days before the launch. Despite the apparent red flag, the application was rolled out as planned, and predictably, it crashed shortly after.
This event highlights the importance of thoroughly and comprehensively testing your web application before releasing it to end-users. Although the Department of Health and Human Services might have easily gotten away with the blunder, a private organization with scores of competitors would not have been so lucky. This guide will show you the different types of web testing and how to automate your tests for better results.
What is web testing?
Web testing is a software testing practice that verifies that a web application or website functions and performs as intended before launching.
Types of web testing
There are more than fifteen types of websites or web applications, although most can be broadly classified under static and dynamic headings. Each type may require a different testing protocol, but we'll only address three here. They include:
Static website testing
A static website displays the same content for all visitors, and only developers can make changes to the website. These websites are relatively easy to test because they only depend on UI and have few functionalities.
You'll need to check the design elements and GUI design parts, such as font style, spacing, font size, and color. You'll also want to ensure no broken links, images are displaying correctly, contact forms are working correctly, and the content is free of grammatical errors.
Dynamic website or web application testing
A dynamic website allows users to update the content frequently, usually via a content management system. Testing a dynamic website or web application involves all the points discussed in static website testing and some more. You need to verify that all buttons are in a standard format and working correctly. Furthermore, there should be an error message for any broken functionality, and the text input and image specifications should function according to specifications.
Mobile website testing
During mobile website testing, you should pay attention to cross-device and cross-browser compatibility. Your mobile application should run seamlessly on all devices, operating systems, and browsers. You'd also need to track the application's responsiveness across different screen sizes and other functions like page navigation and test truncation.
What to test with web testing
There are about six essential areas testers need to focus on when testing a web application. They include:
This involves verifying that the application meets the functional specifications or requirements. Here, testers test the application's features by feeding input and examining the output, just as the end-user would. Below are the essential components of functionality testing:
Link testing involves checking internal, outgoing, anchor, and Malito links to ensure none is broken. The testers will also want to confirm that the correct error message is displayed if any link is broken.
Form Field Validation
This entails checking the scripting of the contact forms on the website or web app and validating the expected actions. For example, if users do not fill a mandatory field, they should get an error message telling them the exact problem.
Cookies help maintain login sessions and ensure users do not have to type their login details at every visit. Cookie testing entails:
- enabling and disabling the cookies
- checking they're encrypted
- verifying that session cookies do their work as required
Validating HTML, CSS & XPath
This involves verifying whether search engine bots can crawl through your site and index the content. The testers will check for color schemas, syntax errors and also ensure that the front-end coding complies with the necessary standards.
Usability testing explores the ease of use of your web app. It involves recruiting real users to navigate the app and perform certain tasks while the development team observes them. The results will then be analyzed and used to improve the app where necessary. Below are the different components of usability testing:
Comparative Usability Testing
Comparative usability testing compares the usability of a web app with another. It's typically done to compare your web application against competitors or peer web applications. Still, you can also use it to compare two design ideas to know which offers the best experience.
Explorative Usability Testing
Explorative test scripts seek to know the content or functionality that best meet the need of the end-users. Users are usually required to complete different tasks on a range of platforms. This helps identify gaps in the market that the new web application can fill.
Usability evaluation ensures the app's design and features are intuitive and contribute to a positive user experience. The testing team will also check for potential UX issues and fix them before launching the web app.
Interface testing is a software testing type that checks that the communication between two software systems is as seamless as it should be. It also checks the compatibility of the software with the hardware, database, and network. The main components of interface testing are highlighted below:
This checks that all interactions with the web server are handled appropriately. In case there's an error message, the application server should communicate it to the users.
Database testing typically involves sending queries to the database and verifying that the queries give the expected results.
Compatibility testing is a QA procedure that determines whether your web app runs efficiently on different platforms, devices, and browsers. Beyond testing on different devices, the testers need to verify that your app works perfectly on major operating systems such as Windows, MAC OS, Linux, OSX, Unix, etc. It's vital to test on real devices and not emulators to get the best results.
Browser Compatibility Testing
Browser compatibility testing assesses your app's performance on different browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc. The app will also be tested on different versions of the same browser to ensure all your users get a seamless experience.
Mobile Device Compatibility Testing
Your app should be compatible with all Android and iOS devices as well as mobile browsers. Remember that mobile browsing is now more popular than desktop browsing. So, be sure to check all mobile compatibility issues.
Performance testing measures the responsiveness, stability, and speed of your web application. Your app will be subjected to a higher than usual workload, and you'll check the necessary parameters for different devices, programs, and networks. Below are the main elements of performance testing:
Load testing checks whether your web app can sustain its peak load time if many users access the same page or execute the same request simultaneously. Your app should handle large user input data, heavy load on specific pages, multiple simultaneous connections to the database, etc.
Stress testing subjects your app infrastructure to more than usual stress until it gets to the breaking point. The aim is to assess how the app will react to unprecedented stress and recover after crashing.
During soak testing, the system will be subjected to a high load over a long time. The aim is to verify that the app can sustain high performance without experiencing memory leaks, performance degradation, or other issues that may arise from continuous usage.
Spike testing is a performance testing method that simulates a sudden astronomical increase in the number of users or queries on your web app. Spike test scripts verify that your front-end infrastructure can cope with fluctuating load demands while maintaining peak performance.
Security testing ensures your application is impervious to external threats and attacks. It helps you identify potential vulnerabilities so you can tackle them before they lead to a data breach or other security compromises.
Privilege escalation occurs when a user gains access to the data functionalities of other users or obtains elevated privileges. Testers need to verify that the system is not vulnerable to privilege escalation attacks and users cannot modify their privileges.
SQL injection ensures users cannot insert or inject an SQL query via their input data. The testers look for any vulnerability that could allow users to create or input SQL queries without validation.
Unauthorized Data Access
Unauthorized Data Access checks prevent users from accessing your app's data without permission. This can happen if the app has a misconfigured or broken authentication mechanism.
URL manipulation involves modifying a website's URL query string to capture important information. Testers should manipulate the web app's query string to check if the server is vulnerable to such attacks.
Denial of Service
Denial of service attacks attempts to make your web app's resources unavailable to legitimate users. Sometimes, the attack may be limited to functionality on the app, while it may also affect the entire application at other times. Comprehensive security testing helps discover and plug such vulnerabilities.
Identity spoofing involves using your users' credentials to launch an attack on the network, bypassing restrictions, or stealing data. Your testers need to check that the necessary restrictions are in place to prevent this type of attack.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
XSS is a loophole that allows hackers to inject client-side scripts into web pages to trick users into clicking a malicious URL. If successful, the hackers can steal user data or perform unauthorized actions on behalf of the user. Testers need to be sure your web app is impervious to client-site scripting.
Vulnerability scanning entails scouting and identifying any form of a security weakness in your web app. The process is typically automated and can help identify most security threats.
Why manual web testing is a pain
It's no secret that manual testing is monotonous, time-consuming. More often than not, the monotony of the task leads to concentration lapses, and the QA team could end up missing vital bugs that will impact user experience. The solution would be investing in an automated software testing tool that speeds up the process and guarantees more reliable results.
How to automate web testing with PreFlight
Preflight is an automated software testing platform that guarantees fast, comprehensive, and accurate software testing without writing a line of code. The platform handles a variety of test cases, including regression testing, compatibility testing, responsiveness testing, etc. Below are some of the benefits of using preflight for your web app testing:
No code web testing
Preflight is easy to use for everyone, including people without a programming background. Since virtually any staff member can handle software testing with preflight, your engineers will have more time on their hands to improve your core product.
Automated regression testing
Regression testing is one of the most software testing types, partly because it's monotonous, time-consuming, and costly, and partly because developers do not believe it's important to retest the same old features so many times. However, not carrying out regression testing is a risk your QA team can't afford to take. Preflight gives you the easy way out of this dilemma by offering automated regression testing. With Preflight, you can complete the test in record time while expending very little technical resources.
Integrations with CI/CD platforms
Preflight integrates seamlessly with numerous CI/CD platforms, including but not limited to Travis CI, Azure, DevOps, Circle CI, and Gitlab. These integrations empower you to automate your development process, sync your projects, collaborate across teams, deploying tests quickly, and get your product to market as fast as possible.
Comprehensive testing remains a crucial component of web application development. Still, software development teams know that it's virtually impossible to cover all possible test cases during software testing.
That's why it's vital to identify the most critical features to user experience and leverage the available automation tools to ensure fast and accurate testing. If you're undecided about the best tool to use for testing your web app, you can rest assured you won't go wrong with Preflight. Sign up to book a demo or create your first React test in under a few minutes.