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What is Web Testing? A Comprehensive Guide

What is Web Testing? A complete guide to test websites

 

“The web” has changed the world forever. In 1989, a curious computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee proposed a new way to link documents together using hypertext. Little did he know, that idea has grown to become a massive global network called the “internet” that connects humans from all over the world. Today, the internet hosts billions of websites, and approximately three websites are created each second.  
 

Websites are not just repositories of information, they help businesses welcome potential users, capture interest, and generate sales. If you care about your website, want to stand out among competitors, or simply just deliver top-notch UX, web testing is essential. In this article, we’ll describe the concept of website testing, its benefits, best practices, and recommend tools to test websites most efficiently.

 

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What is Web Testing?

Web testing is the process of checking a website to see if its functionality, security, and performance align with expectations. The ultimate goal is to ensure that no bugs slip into the production environment, thus maintaining web quality.  
 

We’ll use Tripadvisor  the leading travel review site  as an example. Receiving ~99M visitors per month, one single bug on this site (or its app) is enough to bring frustration to millions of travelers.  
 

web testing for TripAdvisor  
 

This is a screenshot of the homepage of Tripadvisor. A typical list of test cases to run for this page includes the following:  

  1. Check if the search functionality is returning helpful and relevant results.
  2. Check if the Hotels, Things to Do, Restaurants, etc., tabs affect the search functionality, and if the on-screen texts are adjusted accordingly.
  3. Check the “Start a trip with AI” feature.
  4. Check if the travel destination suggestions align with the user’s activity on the site. 

That is just the Homepage. A complex website with interconnected functionality can have hundreds of scenarios to tested. QA teams usually adopt automation testing to speed up the process.   
 

It should be noted that some bugs can be sneaky, i.e., testers don’t even know that they exist in the first place. These are bugs that require a series of interactions to trigger, which is why choosing the right approach to web testing is important.

Approaches to Web Testing

Automated UI Testing vs manual UI testing

 

Generally, there are two major approaches to consider:

  1. Manual testing is when testers act as real users, navigating the website, and interacting with its features to identify bugs or usability problems.
  2. Automation testing is when testers write an automation script, either by coding on an automation framework or leveraging automation testing tools, to perform the interactions for them.

The difference? With manual testing, you can actually test the site, while automated testing only checks the site. This means manual testers can explore the website with a greater degree of freedom, allowing them to discover new and more complex bugs. While automation testers can only verify bugs they are programmed to identify.  
 

The best approach? A combination of both manual and automation testing achieves the best of both worlds. You can perform exploratory testing to leverage your intuition (which comes from knowledge and familiarity with previous bugs on the site) to uncover more obscure bugs while automating any test cases that are repetitive or predictable to save time.  
 

Read more: How to Switch from Manual Testing to Automation Testing

Web Testing Process

Web testing life cycle  
 

The Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) consists of six key activities and starts with requirement analysis, which is essentially a session for stakeholders to align the testing objectives. After that, the QA team begins test planning. Here they explore the website and list the test cases to be tested along with the best approach for each.  
 

Some of the important types of web testing to consider:  
 

  1. Functional testing: One of the most common tests for web apps is functionality testing which checks if the initial build works as designed. It often covers link testing, form validation, cookie testing, HTML and CSS validation, and database connection checks. Read more: Top 10 Automated Functional Testing Tools  

     
  2. Interface testing: Interface testing examines how the web interface responds to emulated interruptions, as well as its compatibility and interaction between different servers. Three key areas to focus on are the application server, web server, and database server.  

     
  3. Compatibility testing: Compatibility testing checks whether or not the web design is compatible with a variety of browsers and devices. This includes browser and OS compatibility testing, along with mobile browsing and printing options testing.  

     
  4. Performance testing: Performance testing is load testing for web apps. Besides the tests on traffic load, stress tests and scalability tests are also crucial to web performance, especially when it is potentially released to a large audience. Read more: Performance Testing vs. Load Testing  
     

Next comes test case development, which is where the real work begins.  
 

If you decide to go with the manual approach, you should have already listed the test steps in a test case management system. Not sure where to begin? Here are some sample test cases to help you get started:

For automation testing, you have two options:

  1. Write code with a test automation framework that best suits your needs.
  2. Shop around for a web testing tool that abstracts away the complexity of scripting.

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To work with an automation framework requires knowledge and experience in coding. Plus, you need to continuously update the scripts upon code changes. Some of the most common frameworks are:

1. Selenium

Selenium as a good framework for cross-browser testing

 

Selenium helps you issue “commands” to the browser and interact with on-page elements by locating their selectors (XPath, CSS selectors, etc.). Selenium relies on a client-server architecture. When you write scripts, they communicate with the WebDriver server, which then sends commands to the browser driver. After that, those drivers translate the commands into actions.   
 

Read more: Top Selenium Alternatives  

 

2. Cypress

Cypress one of the best Selenium alternatives to do web testing

Similar to Selenium, Cypress also helps you automate on-screen actions on the browser. However, it takes a unique approach: Cypress runs tests directly within the browser, rather than remotely controlling it like Selenium. Check out Cypress documentation.  
 

This translates to faster tests and more efficient execution since all interactions of Cypress scripts align with real-time events on the web. However, Selenium offers a grid that allows you to run tests in parallel, while Cypress requires a paid orchestrator in the cloud or with a third-party product.   
 

Read more: Katalon vs Cypress  

 

3. Playwright

Playwright a web testing framework  
 

A good alternative to Cypress, Playwright also comes with easy-to-use methods. Playwright allows you to handle multiple tabs while testing, unlocking parallel test execution. Check out the Playwright documentation.  
 

Playwright also has Trace Viewer, a GUI tool that helps you explore recorded Playwright traces after the script has run. Traces are a great way to debug your tests when they fail on CI, which can be a huge issue with Cypress. 

Web Testing Tutorial With Katalon

Katalon logo  
 

Let’s see how we can do web testing with Katalon. As a comprehensive tool, you can do web testing, API testing, mobile testing, and desktop app testing.  
 

To start, download Katalon.


 

Download Katalon and Witness its Power  

 

Next, launch it, and go to File > New > Project to create your first test project.  
 

web testing sample project  
 

After that, you can create your first test case. We’ll call it a “Web Test Case”.

 

create a web test case  
 

You now have a productive IDE to create automated web test cases without any scripting. In the keyword-driven testing mode, you can simply choose the keywords for the corresponding action you want to perform. As you can see in the image below, we have Click, Set Text, and Verify Element Present keywords.  
 

At its core, these keywords are just abstractions of code snippets, and you can easily switch to the Scripting mode to see and edit the underlying code as you wish.

 

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There is also a Record-and-Playback utility for you to record a set of actions on a browser. Perform all the manual test steps as you normally do, and Katalon will capture all test objects and then turn the action sequence into test code that you can easily execute across environments.

 

You can watch this video to see how Record-and-Playback works in practice:

 


 

Next, simply choose the environment you want to run the tests on. Cross-browser testing has never been easier.  
 

execute test cases in Katalon Studio


 

 Your Web Testing Journey Starts Here  
 

Web Testing Best Practices

  1. Carry out cross-browser compatibility testing.
  2. Define and select key parameters for usability tests.
  3. Execute performance tests under various conditions.
  4. Apply tests to all elements, including third-party and extensions of the web app.
  5. Ensure load tests are incrementally performed.
  6. Incorporate exploratory testing into the software development lifecycle.
  7. Keep URL strings unalterable in security tests.
  8. Involve the development team throughout the entire testing process.