The Cost Of Not Automating Your Visual Regression Tests

Aphinya Dechalert

How automating visual regression testing can be quantified.

User experience is king when establishing and maintaining a positive association with your business. Unfortunately, a negative UX experience is not hard to achieve - all it takes is a misaligned column or out-of-place button. While this may feel trivial, UX debt is as real as technical debt. It can stack over time, especially when working under tight deadlines and strict project constraints.

UX debt can grow when user testing is skipped, brand standards and style guides are not adhered to, product visions are misinterpreted, and merges with other products happen. Other factors, such as poor communication and legacy code, can also impact the size of the compounding UX debt interest.

Visual errors are costing your business and your customers

Fixing a UX problem later can result in more resources and money spent on the project than necessary. This is because it may involve redesigning processes, assets, and coding refactors, which can be both costly. But the issue of UX debt is more than that - shipping sub-optimal experiences can have an impact on long-term market share. New customers can be quick to form negative opinions whilst current customers may become accustomed to the bad UX experience. This means that once the issues are fixed, it can negatively impact the user experience as people are forced to change their habits.

According to a study by Adaptive Path, over $150 billion was lost due to wasted development time caused by poor UX and UX debt. Meanwhile, good UX added over $572 million to the retail sector in 2014. It is also estimated that $243 is lost per customer due to bad user experiences.

In 2020, Citibank lost $500 million due to poor user experience caused by UX debt that resulted in a human error with no backstops by the software for error prevention.

All this is preventable with the help of automated regression testing.

What is visual regression testing?

Regression testing is a type of testing that is used to verify that a system or component still works after it has been changed. This type of testing is typically done after a change has been made to the system to ensure that the change did not break any existing functionality.

As any software development team knows, regression testing is vital to maintaining code quality and ensuring that new changes don’t break existing functionality. But what about when those changes are visual in nature? Welcome to the world of visual regression testing - a process that can help to identify issues with the UI that may not be apparent on one device or screen size.

In a nutshell, visual regression testing is a process of verifying that the visual appearance of a software application has not changed unexpectedly. This type of testing can be performed manually or with the help of automation tools.

Visual Regression Testing
Visual Regression Testing

Why do teams choose not to test?

There are several challenges associated with visual regression testing, which can explain why some teams choose not to test in this way.

One challenge is that it can be difficult to identify all of the elements that need to be tested. For example, a button that is moved slightly on a page may not be noticed by a human tester but could cause problems for users of the software.

Another challenge is that even small changes to the visual appearance of an application can cause a large number of tests to fail. This can be time-consuming and frustrating for testers, especially if they are not able to quickly identify the root cause of the failures.

Visual regression testing can be challenging to set up and maintain. Automation tools may require a significant amount of effort to configure and keep up-to-date, and manual testing can be very time-consuming.

Despite the challenges, visual regression testing can be a valuable way to catch unexpected changes to the visual appearance of a software application. When used in combination with other types of testing, it can help ensure that software changes do not cause unexpected problems for users.

How to prevent/reduce UX debt with automated visual regression testing

UX debt is the name given to the design decisions that are made during the development process, which have a negative impact on the user experience. These decisions are usually made in order to save time or money, but they can have a significant effect on the overall quality of the product. There are many ways to reduce UX debt, but one of the most effective is through automated visual regression testing. This is a process where the UI is compared to a reference image to ensure that any changes made during the development process have not had a negative impact on the overall design.

This process can be used to catch small changes that might not be immediately obvious but which could have a big impact on the user experience. For example, a change in the color of a button might not seem like a big deal, but if it makes the button less visible or more difficult to press, it could have a significant impact on the user experience.

When it comes to automated visual regression testing, one of the most important things to consider is the ROI or return on investment. By understanding the ROI of automated visual regression testing, you can help determine potential cost savings for your organization and preventable losses due to cumulative UX debt.

There are a few different ways to calculate the ROI of automated visual regression testing. One method is to consider the time and money saved by not having to manually regression test. For example, if it takes a tester 8 hours to manually regression test a website, and the cost of the tester's time is $50 per hour, then the cost of manually regression testing the website is $400. If, on the other hand, you were to use an automated visual regression testing tool, and it took the same tester 2 hours to set up and run the tests, then the cost of automated visual regression testing would be $100. In this scenario, the organization would save $300 by using an automated visual regression testing tool.

Another way to calculate the ROI of automated visual regression testing is to consider the cost of potential bugs that are found and fixed before they are released to production. For example, if a bug is found in production that would have been caught by an automated visual regression test, then the cost of the bug is the cost of the time it takes to fix the bug plus the cost of any lost revenue due to the bug.

Assuming it takes 1 hour to fix the bug and the lost revenue is $1,000, then the cost of the bug is $1,000 + $50 = $1,050. If the automated visual regression test had caught the bug before it was released to production, then the organization would have saved $1,050. The ROI of automated visual regression testing can vary depending on the organization and the specific circumstances, but in general, it is a valuable tool that can save organizations time and money.

Wrapping up

The more you ship, the higher the testing load required will be for each release. Automated visual regression testing is more than just keeping everything looking pretty - it can save a pretty penny too. When a business invests in automated visual regression, they are also investing in the continued prevention and growth of UX debt. It is better to detect your visual issues as early as possible so that they do not compound into major design and experience issues in the future.

Visually test your app is a visual regression testing service which helps catch unwanted UI changes, by integrating with your testing framework and analyzing visual differences on your project.

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