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3 fundamental things to know about Visual Testing

You may have heard or read about visual testing before, but you may be unsure what it is and how it can help your ecommerce store.

In this article, we shed light on the three fundamental concepts of visual testing. Once we understand the basic concepts of visual testing and how it is performed, we can then start to see how it creates value for an online business and its overall end user experience. 

Ready? Let’s proceed!

1. What is Visual Testing

Visual testing, in simplest terms, is verifying that everything appears correct, or as intended.

“Appear” is an important thing to note here, because visual testing is all about verifying what the user sees. If we wanted to expand the definition for more clarity, it is:

Making sure that everything that we want on a page of a website is actually there.

Text issue on webpage
(always revise your content!)

Making sure that everything we don’t want to be there is not.

Overlapping text - visual error on CTA
(not sure what this text means…)

Making sure that the visible output of the website is as intended by the businesses and for the user.

Wrong shipping cost applied
Let’s find out the shipping costs…what??

In ecommerce, visual testing is the process of detecting and reviewing visual UI changes of an online store. It is a quality assurance activity that specifically focuses on ensuring that an online store’s UI appears as intended for the end user, whether he/she is browsing a product listing on a desktop or making a purchase on a mobile website. 

2. How is Visual Testing performed

When we talk about visual testing and visual validation, we are checking that visual elements that belong to a page are visible to the user, and undesired visual elements are not.

If we look deeper, visual testing does much more than that. It also makes sure that visual elements are not overlapping one another, causing them to be hidden or poorly visible. It is also to verify that the visual experience is consistent across all users.

Visual testing is also done by verifying that the visual elements on a webpage appear correctly in terms of its size, colour, brightness, contrast, density, texture, weight, shape and position in relation to the user viewport. 

However, it is important to note that visual testing is not merely about checking the UI. 

In particular for online stores, it is also necessary to verify that user interactions with the site return the expected results from both a functional and visual perspective.

Of course, all of this would be much easier and more efficiently done with a visual testing tool, compared to manual testing methods. Visual testing tools scan for visual changes by making a comparison between a baseline (expected) appearance vs. the actual (most recent) appearance. Ideally the tool would perform these tests frequently so the business can be informed of any UI or UX changes detected. Thus, this reduces or eliminates the impact of visual errors to online customers.

UX changes detected via Valido, the leading ecommerce testing app
Visual changes detected via Valido, visual testing application for ecommerce

3. Why is Visual Testing important for online businesses

There are two goals that ecommerce brands can achieve with visual testing:

  • It helps identify visual errors that can negatively impact online sales.
  • It helps online brands deliver a consistent and optimal visual experience to their online customers.

Just by looking at the examples of visual errors above, we can start to see how frustrating they can be for both the business and the customer. Imagine if a visual error causes the purchase button to be invisible, and is left undetected for days. The end user is unable to make the purchase, and the business is unable to sell its product. Everybody loses out in this situation.

This leads us to the reasons why visual testing is important for online businesses: 

Catching visual errors before they affect sales & the customer experience

Visual testing provides online brands a way to proactively monitor UI / UX functionality and accuracy. It helps to quickly identify and isolate visual errors, so that the necessary improvements can be made to prevent future occurrences. A single visual error can lead to a permanent and devastating impact to the business.

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Being able to verify the complete UI/UX experience across every software deploy

Part and parcel of running an online store is performing regular maintenance and updates, especially for an ecommerce with complex infrastructure, integrations, and interactions with multiple external services. In the agile world of incremental development and regular release cycles, a lot of undesired UI effects can occur as a result.

Visual testing allows QA testers and developers to comprehensively verify the real user experience with every code change. It provides full test coverage outside of functionality tests and detects visual regressions. Visual testing ensures that an ecommerce site behaves as expected after every release, across different countries, operating systems, browsers, devices.

Better oversight of sales & marketing campaign executions

Most ecommerce stores also go through frequent changes to its content, due to sales and marketing campaigns affecting the prices, catalog listings, product details, stock availability, etc. These changes may present themselves in multiple pages, and possibly across different languages and country sites

Visual testing gives online businesses better oversight of UI/UX changes, by verifying that such campaigns are displayed to the user as intended. Visual testing also ensures that they are able to interact with changes, for example, being able to redeem a promotion code that is displayed. 


There you have it, the 3 things that you should know about Visual Testing. There are of course more things to consider, especially when you are looking for ways to improve your online business with a visual and ecommerce testing application. If you are interested in visual and user experience testing with Valido, get in touch with us to learn more.