User interface testing is a process by which the user interface of something, often a piece of hardware or software, is tested for errors and accessibility. This type of testing can take a number of different forms, though it often centers on determining how well users can interact with a product and looking for errors or problems that may be encountered while in use. Though this testing is often conducted to ensure the quality of a finished product, testing can be an ongoing process throughout development. User interface testing is quite common for both hardware and software, though with different goals and guidelines.
Though different methods can be utilized for user interface testing, including both human testing and automated testing, the goal of such testing is typically the same. In general, the purpose of this testing is to determine how well the user interface of a product functions and works with a user. Depending on the nature of a product, this usability can vary quite a bit and may range from effective use by casual users to ensuring more refined use by professionals in various industries.
User interface testing often revolves around two basic concerns: usability and errors. Usability includes testing to ensure that all of the functions that should be easy to use are indeed easy to use. If the developer of a program wants to ensure that a new user can easily begin to navigate the program, then testing will often help determine how well that has been achieved. Error checking in user interface testing typically consists of trying out different combinations of parameters and interactions to ensure the user can operate a program or device without encountering bugs or crashes.
While user interface testing is often performed on finished products, the testing will typically be part of ongoing development. Changes to the user interface of a device or program often occur due to information gained through this type of testing. Major changes are often analyzed to ensure that previously stable or usable aspects of the interface have not become corrupted or too difficult to use as a result of such changes.
Both software and hardware typically undergo user interface testing, though the purposes of such testing can be somewhat different. Software is often tested to ensure that the code used to create the interface is free of bugs, and to ensure the software functions properly for a user. User interface testing for hardware typically involves the physical process of a user interacting with a device. This is important for commercial and consumer devices and can be done on anything from televisions and printers to microwave ovens and mobile phones.