End to End (E2E) Testing Best Practices

by PagerDuty December 8, 2021 | 6 min read

When it comes to the applications, websites, and services we build, the end user ultimately determines whether or not the end product is successful. Even the greatest concepts can fall short if the application does not consistently meet the evolving needs and expectations of the user. Just look at what happened to sites like Myspace or Yahoo. Consumers quickly and unapologetically moved onto services like Facebook and Google – both of which prioritize delivering a smooth and innovative user experience.

As companies strive to meet and adapt to the needs of today’s users, End to End (E2E) testing has become an essential component of development and operations. E2E testing provides teams with a realistic view of the different user workflows, highlighting specific areas that could be improved or revised.

With well-designed E2E testing in place, companies have clearer insight to how fast, reliable, and enjoyable an application is for their users. It is designed to mimic the real-world actions users can and will perform while using your product to identify any issues with the user experience. This valuable insight empowers teams to then make the necessary changes and improvements to their application, thus keeping their users loyal and happy.

In this article, we will dive further into what E2E testing consists of, how it is performed, and some best practices to help create or optimize your team’s E2E testing processes.

What is E2E Testing?

E2E testing is a method for replicating and performance testing the different user workflows within an application. It involves using actual browsers or APIs and real-world user scenarios to determine how well an application is performing in terms of its speed, reliability, and overall user experience.

E2E testing can be used to monitor the performance of common user workflows such as:

  • Creating a new account, logging in, or changing/remembering a password.
  • Booking a hotel or flight within a travel application.
  • Adding and removing different items from an online shopping cart.
  • Reading and navigating through different pages on a website.

Using E2E testing, your team will be able to more quickly discover and resolve issues that may negatively impact a given user workflow. For example, a common issue that development teams run into is with slow application performance or page speed. While patience may be a virtue, today’s users are less likely to wait around for an application or website to load. In fact, BBC News recently discovered for every second their website took to load, they were losing an average of 10 percent of their users!

E2E testing would help by testing and monitoring the different workflows to quickly identify issues such as slow performance that may be costing you customers and money.

How is E2E Testing Performed?

  • Step 1: Determine all the possible user workflows within your application. This includes everything that a user can and will run through while using the product – whether it may be purchasing an item, scheduling an event, etc. Be specific and unique to your product alone.
  • Step 2: Create meaningful E2E tests for monitoring the performance of each separate workflow. Your team will need to build tests that provide a realistic view of how each different workflow is performing. A good E2E test will account for speed, accuracy, ease of use, etc.
  • Step 3: Make the necessary changes and updates based on test data. Once E2E testing is in place, you’ll be able to more quickly identify and resolve issues that can negatively impact the user experience. By recreating and testing real user workflows, teams can pinpoint where issues are occurring and make the corrections before it becomes a problem for the customer.
  • Step 4: Adjust and improve E2E testing overtime. To ensure you have the most accurate representation of a real-world user experience, be sure to regularly make any needed adjustments and improvements to your testing. One way to increase the effectiveness of your E2E tests is to automate wherever possible.

E2E Testing Best Practices

When building E2E testing into your development and operations processes, there are several key E2E testing best practices to consider.

  1. First focus on your product’s most popular workflows. These are the workflows that can make or break your product. For example, AirBnB’s top workflows might be searching for and reserving a space. Therefore, it’s critical that these workflows are covered by E2E testing.
  2. Build tests for all other possible workflows. To deliver an optimal, streamlined user experience, it’s important to also consider the smaller microinteractions a user may have while using your product. This includes things like creating and logging into an account, navigating through the different pages within the application, etc. Don’t leave any stones unturned. Treat every possible user workflow as a chance to impress the user – even those workflows that may seem insignificant.
  3. Break larger workflows into smaller, more-focused tests. Smaller tests become much easier to monitor and faster to troubleshoot.
  4. Design tests to be realistic. The most effective E2E testing should consider and replicate all real-world factors. For example, you’ll want to be sure to include accurate load tests to help recreate how your product performs with real-life traffic simulations.
  5. Automate and adapt. Your E2E testing should be constantly growing and evolving to support your team and the expectations of your users. Introduce automation where possible to remove any unnecessary load from your internal team.

Helpful E2E Testing Tools

Tools are a great way to increase the effectiveness of your E2E testing. There are many great options available to help with monitoring your tests, as well as automating certain tasks that can be time consuming when done manually.

Some popular E2E testing tools include:

  • LoadNinja offers a straight-forward interface for managing E2E performance testing. It was designed for simplicity and makes test creation, maintenance, and diagnostics much easier.
  • Datadog is a great option for monitoring the performance and availability of the different endpoints within your application, allowing teams to respond to issues much faster.
  • PagerDuty offers E2E SMS provider testing to ensure your team is notified if and when an issue does occur. This way, you can rest assured that if an issue is identified with your E2E testing, your team will know and can react accordingly.