As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to trap the business world in a period of real uncertainty, more and more businesses are focusing on adapting and surviving the crisis.
However, the world of digital appears to be largely untouched by the impacts of the pandemic. Professionals in the software industry have continued to innovate in the face of adversity.
One of these professionals is Bob Marks, CEO of Video First, whose revolutionary software can be used to deliver both user interface (UI) testing automation and vastly improved collaboration.
Our host Ciaran Connolly caught up with Bob to learn more about his story and the power behind the product.
You can watch the full interview below, or read on for the highlights.
Table of Contents
Video First: the Solution to UI Problems
As we kick off our discussion, Bob takes us on a quick walk through his professional journey and his background before entering a life of business and entrepreneurship.
Originally in Kilkeel but now settled in Belfast, Bob graduated from Ulster University in 2003. He has now been working in the software industry for over 15 years.
When he decided to create Video First, he sums up his motivation into a single question: “Have you ever been on a website, clicked something, and it doesn’t work? Well, it really bugs me.”
A common problem that we have all experienced – Bob decided he would be the one to solve it.
“That says there’s something wrong with the user interface. UI is the primary way people interact with your software product, and it is arguably the most important aspect. So testing that I feel is of the highest priority.
“That’s where the idea for Video First came from. It’s an innovative way to test user interface using various video technologies.”
Video First defines itself as the next generation of collaborative user interface testing to help enhance workflow and experience. Service users can unify tech teams and improve quality from UI concept through to automated testing.
From setting up Video First, Bob has witnessed a series of changes in what is an extremely fast-paced industry. Indeed, he admits that these changes can make it difficult to keep up.
Understanding the Fundamentals: Test Automation & UI Testing
In today’s fast-paced software development world, ensuring quality and functionality is crucial. Enter the powerful duo of Test Automation and UI Testing, working together to streamline the testing process and deliver exceptional software experiences. Let’s delve into the core principles of each and explore how they synergistically enhance software development:
1. Test Automation:
Imagine a tireless worker tirelessly repeating the same test cases, meticulously checking every button and function. That’s the essence of Test Automation. It involves using software tools to automatically execute pre-defined test scripts, mimicking user actions and verifying expected outcomes.
Think of it as scripting a digital playtest, where the software becomes the actor and the test script becomes the director. Automation takes over repetitive tasks like login processes, data entry, or basic functionality checks, freeing up valuable time and resources for more complex testing and analysis.
Key benefits of Test Automation:
- Increased Efficiency: Run thousands of tests in minutes, saving time and manpower.
- Improved Accuracy: Eliminate human error and ensure consistent test execution.
- Faster Feedback Loops: Get immediate results and identify issues early in the development cycle.
- Regression Testing: Automatically re-run tests after code changes, ensuring stability.
- Scalability: Easily test complex applications with diverse configurations and devices.
2. UI Testing:
While automation handles the mechanics, UI Testing focuses on the human experience. It’s about ensuring the user interface (UI), the visual and interactive elements users encounter, is functional, usable, and aesthetically pleasing.
Imagine testing the intuitiveness of a website navigation, the responsiveness of a mobile app, or the visual appeal of a product interface. UI testing verifies if these elements align with user expectations and provide a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Key aspects of UI Testing:
- Functionality: Does everything work as intended? Are buttons clickable, forms validatable, and data displayed accurately?
- Usability: Can users easily navigate, understand, and interact with the UI? Are all elements accessible and intuitive?
- Aesthetics: Is the UI visually appealing, consistent, and aligned with brand identity? Does it provide a positive user experience?
3. The Synergistic Magic:
Now, the real magic happens when test automation and UI testing join forces. Automation takes over the repetitive functional UI tests, freeing up testers for more in-depth usability and visual assessments. Imagine:
- Automating login, search, and checkout flows on an e-commerce website, then manually testing user experience and navigation ease.
- Automatically verifying button functionality on a mobile app, then manually testing gesture responsiveness and overall layout.
This combined approach** increases test coverage, efficiency, and accuracy**, while ensuring the UI is not just functional but also user-friendly and visually engaging. It’s like having a tireless robot handle the grunt work while a skilled artist refines the masterpiece.
The Importance of UI
While it is a challenging industry, the need for reliable UI testing is extremely important.
We have all experienced it – when you click on a website and it doesn’t work. This frustration is not just common – it is detrimental to business.
According to Sweor, 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if it has response issues such as a slow loading time. This is a huge loss for companies who rely on their website to make sales. It could be that the remaining percentage of people have a clear intention of using that site and will persevere – however once this problem happens – your website will have already cost you clients.
Bob suggests that in the modern marketplace, most businesses tend to be aware of the risks of avoiding UI testing – and they are especially aware of the drastic implications of when this can all go very wrong.
“If the Amazon website went down for ten minutes, it would lose over a million dollars in revenue. Not all sites are as important as that – but lost revenue is a big risk of any business, regardless of its size or nature,” he explains.
So, who needs UI testing? According to the CEO, there isn’t a singular answer to this question. Indeed, Video First works with a huge range of businesses and organisations, from firms with a handful of workers to larger companies with potentially hundreds of employees.
“Our ideal client, however, is one that is distributed across the world. It’s like a video library of user interface tests and they can be accessed via one single site. Designers, developers and others can record tests for others to view, and at that stage can approve or decline those tests,” he adds.
Creating a Visual Audit Trail
For Bob, Video First offers significant value in massively increasing the visibility of the engineering process at a much earlier stage. It is the collaborative nature of the product which helps its customers identify issues and get products to market quicker.
“Over time you also get that visual audit trail,” says Bob, “and when a new tester comes along to join your company, they can very easily familiarise themselves with the testing process, saving time and costs on the likes of training and onboarding.”
What challenges has Video First encountered as a tech company? According to the CEO, the challenges are plentiful.
“There are a lot of problems and issues to take account of as a tech company. The challenge of any company is to get your product to market, to get feedback and to know you’re building the right thing. You must say to yourself – yes, this product solves problems for me – but would it solve problems for others?”
According to Bob – while automated UI testing is a well-known necessity across the globe – in Northern Ireland, it is widely neglected.
“All software companies do testing. However, only 15% of companies in Belfast do automated testing. In the context of UI testing, automation is a bit of software, and there is a cost here. These tests can work 24/7, so they very quickly pay for themselves. If something breaks, you will know before the customer knows. We capture both manual and automated user interface tests, so if something did break, you could go back and identify exactly where the failure starts.”
To find out more interesting insights from Bob, check out the rest of our Business Leaders interview.
Video First’s full range of features can be viewed on the company’s official website.
The Powerhouse Duo: How Test Automation & UI Testing Supercharge Your Software
In the software development arena, speed and quality are critical players. Enter test automation and UI testing, the dynamic duo that empowers you to achieve both with remarkable efficiency. Let’s explore the key benefits they offer, backed by data and real-world impact:
1. Unleashing Efficiency & Coverage:
Imagine running hundreds of tests in mere minutes instead of hours. With test automation, that’s the reality. By automating repetitive tasks like logins, data entry, and basic functionality checks, you achieve:
- Increased Test Coverage: Execute significantly more tests, covering a wider range of scenarios and functionalities. A study by Capgemini revealed that companies adopting automation achieve a 30% increase in test coverage.
- Enhanced Productivity: Free up your testing team from manual drudgery to focus on critical analysis and complex user flows. A Tricentis report showed that test automation reduces manual testing effort by 70%.
2. Slashing Time & Cost:
Time is money, and manual testing demands a hefty chunk of both. Automation brings relief:
- Reduced Testing Time: Run regression tests instantly after code changes, saving hours or even days. A Deloitte study found that automation can reduce test execution time by 80%.
- Cost Optimization: Minimize the need for additional testing resources, leading to significant cost savings. A PWC report estimated that organizations can reduce testing costs by 25-50% with automation.
3. Building Quality & Reliability:
Releasing bug-ridden software can be detrimental. Test automation and UI testing work together to build a fortress of quality:
- Improved Software Quality: Identify and fix defects early in the development cycle, preventing costly bug fixes later. A study by CAST highlighted that organizations using automation experience a 50% reduction in defects.
- Enhanced Reliability: Ensure consistent behavior across different platforms and devices, boosting user confidence and reducing crashes. A study by SOASTA revealed that automated testing helps achieve a 70% reduction in production defects.
4. Feedback Loops & Regression Safety:
Waiting for test results can slow down development. Automation streamlines the process:
- Faster Feedback Loops: Get immediate test results, enabling developers to fix issues promptly and iterate faster. A study by IBM showed that automation can reduce feedback loops from weeks to hours.
- Reduced Regression Risk: Automatically re-run tests after each code change, minimizing the risk of regressions and ensuring stability. A Tricentis report highlighted that automation helps achieve a 90% reduction in regression defects.
5. Taming Complexity & Edge Cases:
Manual testing has limitations when it comes to complex scenarios and edge cases. Automation expands your reach:
- Testing Intricate Scenarios: Simulate complex user journeys and interactions that would be impractical or time-consuming to test manually.
- Exploring Edge Cases: Uncover hard-to-reach scenarios and potential issues that might go unnoticed with manual testing.
These benefits aren’t just theoretical – they translate to real-world impact:
- A study by Capgemini revealed that companies with mature test automation practices achieve a 21% increase in productivity and a 17% reduction in time to market.
- A PWC report highlighted that organizations leveraging test automation experience a 25% increase in customer satisfaction and a 15% reduction in development costs.
By harnessing the power of test automation and UI testing, you’re not just testing software, you’re investing in efficiency, quality, and a competitive edge in the fast-paced world of software development. Remember, these are powerful tools, but their effectiveness ultimately lies in your ability to choose the right solutions and integrate them seamlessly into your development process.
Making the Right Choice: When to Leverage the Powerhouse Duo
While test automation and UI testing offer undeniable benefits, knowing when to wield them strategically is crucial. Here’s a roadmap to guide you:
Embrace Automation for:
- Frequently Changing Applications and Complex UIs: Imagine testing a dynamic website with numerous features that evolve rapidly. Manually verifying every change becomes a daunting task. Automation shines in such scenarios, ensuring smooth functionality with each update.
- Regression Testing and CI/CD Pipelines: Re-running the same tests after every code change can be tedious. Automation excels in regression testing, swiftly verifying stability after each iteration in your CI/CD pipeline.
- Repetitive Tasks: Data entry, login processes, and basic functionality checks are prone to human error. Automation eliminates this risk, freeing up your team for more strategic testing efforts.
- Cross-Platform and Device Testing: Manually testing across diverse platforms and devices can be overwhelming. Automation tools simulate multiple environments, ensuring seamless user experience across varying configurations.
Remember, Automation Has Limits:
While powerful, automation isn’t a silver bullet. Here’s when manual testing remains crucial:
- Exploratory Testing: Uncovering unknown issues and exploring edge cases requires human intuition and adaptability, a strength of manual testing.
- Usability Testing: Assessing user experience, intuitiveness, and emotional response goes beyond the scope of automated scripts. Manual testing with real users provides invaluable insights.
- Visual Appeal and Aesthetics: While automation can verify element placement, judging visual design, branding consistency, and overall aesthetics necessitates human judgment.
Choosing the Right Balance:
Ultimately, the key lies in finding the optimal blend of automation and manual testing. Consider factors like:
- Project Scope and Complexity: For smaller, stable projects, manual testing might suffice. Complex, frequently changing applications benefit more from automation.
- Testing Budget and Resources: Automation tools require investment, while manual testing demands skilled personnel. Evaluate your resource constraints.
- Team Expertise: If your team lacks automation expertise, starting with manual testing and gradually incorporating automation might be prudent.
Remember, it’s not an either/or situation. By pairing automation’s efficiency with manual testing’s human touch, you create a comprehensive testing strategy that delivers exceptional quality and user experience.
Consider a music streaming app with frequent UI updates and diverse platforms. Automating regression testing ensures stability, while manual exploratory testing uncovers usability issues on specific devices. This combined approach optimizes testing efforts and delivers a seamless user experience across platforms.
Getting Started with Automation & UI Testing: Your Actionable Roadmap
Embarking on the test automation and UI testing journey can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it can be a rewarding and transformative experience. Here’s a clear and actionable roadmap to get you started, inspired by Bob Marks’ expertise:
1. Assess Your Testing Needs & Priorities:
- Identify Your Goals: What are your key testing objectives? Increased test coverage, reduced testing time, or improved software quality? Clearly define your goals to guide your approach.
- Analyze Your Applications: What type of applications do you test? Are they web-based, mobile, or desktop? Understanding their complexity and platform requirements is crucial.
- Prioritize Testing Areas: Which areas require automation most urgently? Focus on repetitive tasks, regression testing, or critical functionalities based on your needs.
Anecdote: Bob often encounters clients overwhelmed by the potential of automation. He advises starting small, focusing on a specific high-impact area for initial automation efforts.
2. Choose the Right Tools:
- Research & Compare: Explore available tools like Selenium, Cypress, Appium, etc., considering their features, compatibility with your applications, and budget.
- Evaluate Open-Source vs. Paid Options: Open-source tools offer flexibility but require more technical expertise, while paid tools often provide user-friendly interfaces and support.
- Seek Expert Recommendations: Leverage Bob Marks’ insights and industry resources to identify tools aligned with your specific needs and experience level.
Tip: Bob emphasizes choosing tools that integrate seamlessly with your existing development environment and workflow for efficient adoption.
3. Develop Your Test Automation Framework & Scripts:
- Define Your Framework: Choose a suitable framework (e.g., keyword-driven, data-driven) based on your project complexity and team preferences.
- Start with Simple Scripts: Begin with automating basic functionalities and gradually progress towards more complex scenarios.
- Focus on Reusability & Maintainability: Write modular and well-documented scripts that can be easily adapted and reused for future tests.
Case Study: Bob helped a client achieve significant efficiency gains by developing a reusable framework for API testing, reducing script creation time by 50%.
4. Integrate Test Automation into Your Workflow:
- Plan Your CI/CD Pipeline: Incorporate automated tests into your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline for early feedback and faster releases.
- Schedule Regular Test Runs: Establish a reliable testing schedule to ensure continuous monitoring and quick identification of regressions.
- Communicate with Developers: Foster collaboration between testers and developers to ensure smooth integration and effective bug resolution.
Remember: Bob stresses the importance of clear communication and collaboration to bridge the gap between testing and development teams for successful automation implementation.
5. Train Your Team:
- Provide Training on Chosen Tools: Invest in training your team on the selected automation tools and best practices. Consider online courses, workshops, or in-house training sessions.
- Encourage Knowledge Sharing: Create a culture of knowledge sharing within your team, allowing experienced members to mentor and support others.
- Stay Updated on Trends: Keep your team informed about the latest advancements in test automation and UI testing to maintain their skillset.
Pro Tip: Bob often recommends leveraging industry conferences, forums, and Bob Marks’ blog itself as valuable resources for continuous learning and staying ahead of the curve.
By following this roadmap and incorporating Bob Marks’ valuable insights, you can pave the way for a successful test automation and UI testing journey. Remember, it’s an ongoing process, so embrace continuous learning, adapt to changing technologies, and measure your progress to maximize the benefits of these powerful tools for your software development success.
FAQs: Navigating Your Test Automation & UI Testing Journey
1. How long does it take to implement test automation and UI testing?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your project complexity, team size, and chosen tools. Start small, iterate, and gradually scale up your automation efforts.
2. What are the biggest challenges in adopting test automation?
Choosing the right tools, training your team, and integrating automation into your workflow can be initial hurdles. But with planning and support, these challenges are manageable.
3. How much does test automation cost?
Costs vary depending on tool licenses, training, and potential consulting fees. However, the long-term cost savings and quality improvements often outweigh the investment.
4. Is test automation right for every project?
Not necessarily. For small, stable projects, manual testing might suffice. But for complex, frequently changing applications, automation offers significant benefits.
5. Where can I find more resources and support?
- Bob Marks’ website and blog offer valuable insights and best practices.
- Online communities and forums connect you with other professionals on their automation journeys.
- Industry conferences and training courses provide in-depth learning opportunities.
Conclusion: Empower Your Software Development with Intelligent Testing
Test automation and UI testing are not just trends; they’re essential tools for delivering high-quality, user-centric software in today’s fast-paced development landscape. By understanding your needs, choosing the right approach, and leveraging Bob Marks’ expertise, you can embark on this transformative journey and empower your team to:
- Increase testing efficiency and coverage.
- Reduce testing time and costs.
- Deliver higher quality software with fewer defects.
- Gain faster feedback and ensure continuous improvement.
- Create exceptional user experiences that delight your customers.
Remember, the key to success lies in adopting a strategic approach, embracing continuous learning, and optimizing your testing practices for maximum impact. With Bob Marks’ guidance and the power of test automation and UI testing by your side, you’re well on your way to developing software that not only functions flawlessly but also exceeds expectations.
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