Modern performance metrics like search engine rankings, visitor retention, and site engagement time are being diligently monitored. Achieving these metrics and more requires a website to provide an excellent user experience and compatibility across various devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. This same principle applies to digital products like web apps, mobile apps, and emails.
In today’s digital landscape, responsive designs that adapt to different device resolutions have become a necessity. This is especially true considering that smartphones and other mobile devices offer the most convenient access to applications for the majority of users. Consequently, this shift towards mobile usage alters how we test applications. Let’s delve into the process of responsive design testing to ensure we deliver high-quality applications.
What exactly is responsive design?
Responsive design is a method of developing applications to seamlessly adapt to different devices and their varying screen resolutions. It adjusts layout, images, font sizes, and other design components to fit the screen of the device being used. This adaptability ensures a consistent user experience without requiring users to zoom in or out or scroll horizontally to access basic functionalities like viewing navigation menus or performing other key actions. Responsive design is achieved through the use of flexible grids, adaptable images and media, and CSS media queries.
Key ingredients for a responsive design
- Flexible layout: Using flexible grid systems you can ensure that your application has a responsive layout in place. These grids use relative sizing as opposed to fixed sizing to achieve responsiveness.
- Adaptive media: The use of responsive images and media that can adjust to the size and resolution of the device will ensure that images and media do not become distorted or pixelated on different devices. You can do this by setting the image width to 100% and the height to auto. However, it is important to use high-quality images for this. If the image is not a photo but an icon, then using .svg files is helpful due to it being lightweight and capable of scaling up and down.
- CSS media queries: The use of CSS media queries that can adjust the design of the application based on the screen size and resolution of the device. This ensures that the application looks and works as intended on all devices. They use breakpoints which are used to determine at what dimension the layout should change. For example, if a desktop view of an application shows two columns, then once the resolution changes to that of a smartphone, it shows a single column at a time. This turning point for layout change is the breakpoint.
- Content prioritization: Content should be prioritized based on the device and screen size. This ensures that users can easily access the most important content on any device.
- Consistent design: The use of consistent design elements across all devices ensures that the application page looks and works consistently across all devices and provides a seamless user experience.
Why do we need responsive design in our applications?
Consider the example of Microsoft Word. When you view it on a desktop and a smartphone, you’ll find that while the layouts share similarities, they aren’t identical. The similarities connect the user experience across devices, while the differences lie in how specific functions are displayed. You’ll also find device-specific controls like certain settings that manage user interaction or application display. Imagine if Microsoft Word wasn’t responsive and maintained its desktop appearance on all devices? Using it on mobile devices would be a disaster.
Businesses create applications to broaden their reach. If the application isn’t compatible with various devices, it undermines this objective. User experience, including easy navigation, readable font sizes, and intuitive layout, is vital across all devices.
Search engines such as Google favor responsive applications, boosting their visibility in search results. This increased visibility can drive more traffic and potential customers to your application. Responsive design eliminates the need for separate application versions for different devices, saving time and resources, making it a cost-effective choice for businesses. With an ever-increasing variety of devices and screen sizes, responsive design future-proofs an application, enabling it to adapt to emerging technologies and devices.
What is responsive design testing?
Now that we understand what responsive design entails, we can see that testing a responsive application is the process of checking how a website or application responds and adapts to different screen sizes and devices, such as desktops and mobile devices like smartphones. It involves testing the functionalities, performance, user experience and security of an application across various devices to ensure that it behaves as expected across all platforms.
This testing can be done manually by physically checking the application on different devices or using automated testing tools that simulate various device sizes and resolutions. The testing process can also include assessing the application’s performance and load times on different devices, as well as checking for any accessibility issues.
Approaches to consider
- Functional testing: Ensure the functionality of various modules on different devices, browsers, and operating systems. Regardless of screen resolution and layout, the functionality of a module should remain consistent.
- Usability testing: With continual screen resizing and layout adaptation, it’s crucial to evaluate the user-friendliness of a responsive design. Users should find the design intuitive and suitable for their device. For instance, an essential feature such as the ‘add to cart’ option should be readily visible and easy to access on a smartphone, like a prominent button. Tucking it away in a sub-menu may render it less user-friendly.
- Accessibility testing: This tests an application’s compliance with accessibility standards for differently-abled users. If your application caters to this audience or needs to adhere to these standards, you should certainly include this test.
- Visual testing: These tests focus on how the application, with its various UI elements, fonts, and images, appears across devices. Here you also verify layout consistency and content accuracy.
- Checking gestures: Testing gesture responses like swipes, double taps, pinches, scrolls, etc. will ensure that your application is genuinely responsive on various devices.
- Performance testing: Developing responsive pages may lead to slower application performance on different devices and network connections. Speed testing can help improve application performance.
Checklist for responsive design testing
- A navigation bar is like a map of your application. It should be easy to access irrespective of the device.
- Pay extra attention to fonts. Checking them across devices will help ascertain that they look appealing in all technical conditions.
- Definitely test on mobile devices since the majority of users will be accessing your application using the mobile phone, on the go.
- Check that your elements are aligned properly throughout different resolutions. You can see such mishaps with table data by zooming in.
- Consider testing on real devices (which can also be done through the cloud) to get a better understanding of parameters like battery consumption, network speed, memory usage, and error handling in different situations.
- Finally, test the application like an end user! Explore the different features that are available and also look into the intuitiveness of the design. Remember, it’s a combination of aesthetics and functionality.
Some challenges with responsive design testing
Responsive designs are great to have. However, building and testing them involve complications that need to be accounted for. Some of the challenges that tend to come up are
Creating a testing environment
With more and more devices coming into the market, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all these versions of device, browser and operating system combinations. An application running on a desktop will need to work with a different resolution than that of a smartphone. Strategically choosing the right combination of device, browser and operating system is a key consideration here. Based on the target audience, their complaints and feedback, and a general market survey, you can narrow down this list.
You can use device simulators, emulators or device farms to test these combinations while also considering the screen resolutions of each device under test.
Being clear about what to test
Though this may seem like a no-brainer, knowing what to test is important. Especially when it comes to testing across so many devices, if you aren’t familiar with the module or functionality, it is quite easy to get confused and misled by the designs. For example, if there is a feature to ‘add to cart’, this feature may look different across devices. It might be a button, a link or even a gesture like a swipe or a long press. If you are aware of testing it, then you will make sure to do it and even be able to determine if it is intuitive enough.
Verifying different ways to interact with the same feature
This is an extension of the above point. Devices may have different ways of interacting with the application. This holds true for touch screens seen in many mobile devices like smartphones or laptops. A good application will make the most of these gestures too since people choose comfort while using their devices and gestures are meant to provide that. So it is a smart thing to check if they are working properly.
Need for automation testing
Having to test the same features across so many combinations of devices, browsers and operating systems is quite cumbersome. This also calls for human error. This repetitive task can be dealt with with automation testing. Having a good testing framework that has an in-built device farm or integrates with other providers that offer this is a great way to tackle responsive design testing.
testRigor for responsive design testing
Testing an application with a responsive design requires an automation tool that can function across various platforms and devices. Ideally, it should also support visual testing to compare screens of different resolutions and cross-browser testing, all while being user-friendly. This is where testRigor makes QA lives a lot easier.
testRigor allows you to test across multiple devices as it smoothly integrates with device farm providers such as BrowserStack, LambdaTest, Kobiton, and SauceLabs. With testRigor, you can access over 2000 device-browser combinations for robust testing coverage. It also syncs with various other applications, such as CI/CD systems, test case management systems, and databases.
What makes testRigor notably user-friendly is a no-code approach to creating test cases. You can use the documentation to write test scripts in plain English commands. There’s also no need to deal with Xpaths when identifying UI elements; you can simply describe elements on the UI level, as you see them on the screen.
Another massive benefit of testRigor is test stability, with test maintenance taking up to 99% less time than with alternative tools. This allows the team to expand test coverage quickly, making sure that all the mundane, repetitive test cases become automated.
Starting with testRigor is as easy as creating an account, looking into the documentation to check out the commands, and starting to create test cases right away. Or you can user a built-in recorder that will also record the steps in the same plain English format, making it easy for manual testers to maintain and edit.
To sum it up
Responsive design is important because it improves accessibility, user experience, search engine optimization, cost-effectiveness, and future-proofs your application. Testing responsive designs can be challenging, but using the right testing tools, prioritizing the testing of important elements, and optimizing performance will help overcome these challenges.