Your GUI Testing Checklist

For modern software engineers, GUI testing is an inevitable part of the process and has to be given maximum considerations. Gone are the command line days and most computer users today are only literate about the graphical interface. GUI is a strong element of user satisfaction and nothing displeases a computer user more than dysfunctional graphical interphases. For this reason, app developers and software engineers often contract third parties to help them in conducting GUI tests. These tests are done on all aspects of the interface to ensure it functions as desired. There are various things to make certain of before conducting GUI tests especially since all elements must be tested to verify their usability.

Describing GUI testing

In brief description, graphical user interface testing refers to tests done on a graphical interface to evaluate its usability. An interface comprises several elements which are in isolation while others are in sequences prompted by instructions that must be run first. Testing generally covers coloration, navigation, ergonomics, alignment and layout and instruction. There are two main ways of testing graphical interfaces namely manual and automatic. Automatic testing has in recent time overtaken manual modes of testing GUI although seasoned testers may incorporate the two.


Your GUI Testing Checklist

When conducting a graphical user interface test, there are a number of elements to check. The number of tests performed can be limited to a small number if there are a few steps. However, applications with long paths that include drop boxes and more executable results may cause the number of tests to increase sporadically. Testing usually involves the developer writing down a list of intended functions all graphical buttons and menus are supposed to achieve when selected. This prevents confusion and ensures all paths and steps are tested. One can make a check box list of all paths to be tested and then check the out one by one when testing. Automatic testing involves smart programs that generate instructions that are human-like to trigger certain results. While automation is time-saving and less distressing, GUI tests still require hectic programming. Here is a detailed checklist of some of the things that must be tested when conducting GUI testing.

Navigation – Check all menus, menu items and toolbar for navigation. This should be done for both keyboard and mouse to ensure both produce the same response. Check window navigation using keyboard and mouse.

Formatting – Check that all formatting is proper for date entry, masks and drop-down boxes. Items should be nicely sort in lists and with the correct formatting

• Color and fonts – Check all colors, font widths and fonts for displayed texts and field alerts. Ensure the field prompts use correct fonts and color with background set to read-only mode.

Scrolls – All vertical and horizontal bars used in scrolling should only appear where necessary. Eliminate all that should not appear.

• Controls and alignments – The window should be resizable, all controls should function as required and every display should exhibit correct alignment. All content, list items and labels must be properly aligned.

• Spelling and grammar – For elements like texts displayed in window, captions, error messages, field prompts, status bar options and pop-up text must be of correct spelling and grammar.

• Justification – The numerical fields should be right justified while character and alphanumeric fields should be left justified. Check, if any, for default displays

• Look and feel – Check that all multiple windows have the correct look and feel that expresses transition and allows closing or navigating back

• Default and shortcut keys – All shortcuts and shortcut keys must be defined and should be checked to ensure they work correctly. Default buttons should also work correctly

• Tab – Ensure the tab order is from top left and moves bottom right. Remove disabled fields which are often marked as read-only fields from the tab sequence. The tab should load in time and its display should be in sequence.

• Opening input – Test whether the cursor points on the first input when a new window is opened.

• Alternatives – The menu command should have alternative hot key sequences that can work correctly and remove any duplicate hot key from the window.

• Behavior – Test and validate the behavior of different control such as the radio and push buttons, list box buttons among others. Ensure there is a help menu and buttons like F1 land users at help pages.

• Modality and multiple windows – Test to validate that windows are modal and no other features outside the window can be accessed when it is still active. Ensure there is a capacity to open multiple windows.

• Contrast – Command buttons that are not in use should be greyed out to distinguish them from active command.

• Images – Check through the entire application for broken images and fix them. Test the size of used and uploaded graphics and check all burners and respective sizes.

There are many other tests to perform when evaluating GUI performance. The more number of paths existing in a menu, the more number of tests will be required. Effectively testing GUI is very important since one small failure in a given step can potentially bar the user from accessing various other commands. It is easier to start with the basic paths such as tabs, start menus, window displays and basic formatting.

Why test GUI

Knowing whether a graphical interface functions as desired can be quite overwhelming without the appropriate tools. In order to verify if each click and selection provides required result needs one to test each step. GUI testing is quite important since it identifies usability problems before the software is released. It also ensures all design elements like fonts, font size, color, layout, labels, lists, buttons, text captions, icons, content and links are up to ideal standards. In short, GUI tests are the guarantee needed before assuring clients that the application works as described. Through these tests, developers can identify cumbersome navigation processes and paths. Such difficulties can then be addressed and modified to make the interface user-friendly.


Application software is only as good as its graphical user interface. User experience heavily relies on the interface and all paths must be clear at use. When testing GUI, contracting external third parties may be a wise decision since they are experienced in simulating user experiences. This ensures all paths are tested and validated before the application is released for use. The process in itself is overwhelming since it requires high level of programming and consumes a lot of time to effectively carry out. Nonetheless, GUI testing is an inevitable requirement for all application developers.

Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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