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Bohdan Mushta, Quality Assurance Engineer

Apr 08, 2024 13 min read

Comparison Testing in Software Testing: A Complete Guide

In this article, we will explain comparison testing in software testing and why it is essential. We will also discuss some processes, approaches, methods, and examples related to comparison testing.  

Compare Testing

Software development is a process that involves numerоus steps and procedures falling under the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). The software developer/engineer tеam follows it to create a high-quality and efficient product. One of the crucial steps in the SDLC is software testing, which is carried out to detect and resolve issues, thus еnsuring the creation of a well-performing and reliable software product. Various software testing and software testing metrics are used to produce a high-quality software program.  

In this article, we will explain comparison testing in software testing and why it is essential. We will also discuss some processes, approaches, methods, and examples related to comparison testing.  

What is Comparison Testing in Software Testing?  

Comparison testing is a software testing method that allows you to compare your software's strengths and weaknesses, performance, and functionality with other products available on the market. It evaluates the developed software compared to competing tools to ensure that it meets the standards necessary for release.  

While many comparison tests aim to compare your product with competitors, they can also include comparing two versions of the same software. In such cases, comparison testing involves identifying promised improvements and fixes or seeing how updates have affected application performance. 

Why is Comparison Testing Important?  

Comparison testing in software testing serves multiple functions throughout the software development process:  

  • Conducting tests is crucial to ensure your product meets the requirements and expectations of your target audience. 
  • It also allows you to compare the performance of different software versions or software products. This process helps identify areas for improvement and ensure that newer versions exceed the performance of previous ones. 
  • When implementing changes or updates to the software, comparison testing ensures that the new version behaves as expected compared to the previous version. It helps validate the impact of changes and ensure they do not introduce new bugs.    
  • Comparison testing in software testing helps verify that the software functions correctly across different platforms, devices, or environments. By comparing the software's behavior in various settings, you can ensure its compatibility and identify any issues that may arise in specific configurations.   
  • It helps identify the best user experience by comparing design or usability choices. 

 

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When to Conduct Comparison Testing? 

Comparison testing can be conducted anytime, as the insights gained greatly assist teams in creating a better product (you can also explore our article on manual regression testing to understand its significance in ensuring software reliability). Typically, comparison testing is carried out in product development's early, middle, and late stages. This process can serve as a guiding light, aiding decision-making, generating ideas, and identifying potential weaknesses in your product.  

Let's explore three stages to understand how comparison testing looks at each.  

1. Early Stages: Comparing your project with competing projects should be part of the early design stages. Understanding the target market's needs involves research and interviews to uncover their dissatisfaction with existing solutions.  

Furthermore, UI/UX or business requirements may change at these stages due to comparison testing. Adapting to these changes is much easier in the early development life cycle stages.  

2. Middle Stages: Comparison testing in the middle stage typically focuses on application functionality and user interface elements.  

3. Late Stages: Late stages are a good time for comparison testing, as teams pay attention to software quality, processing speed, and hardware support.  

WhentoConductComparisonTesting

The Stages of Comparison Testing 

Comparison testing can be conducted in several stages. Both approaches involve comparison, but what the software is compared against determines the different approaches. 

Stage 1: Comparison with Standards and Benchmarks 

One of the best ways to assess your software is to compare it with industry standards and benchmarks. Let's see how this can be done. 

Research Standards and Benchmarks   

Firstly, you need to gather objective data to compare with your project. Fortunately, many established standards and benchmarks can guide you. Pay attention to:  

  • Industry standards such as IEEE, ISO, and W3C describe best practices, testing methodologies, and quality attributes.  
  • Performance and functionality research.  
  • Internal standards are outlined in company documents and specifications.  

Establish KPIs   

After reviewing these documents, you can determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or metrics that measure performance, security, usability, functionality, and more.  

Write Test Cases   

Considering the KPIs, write test cases to ensure your software meets internal and external standards.  

Run Tests

Next, run the test cases and collect data. Document everything, noting both failures and successes.  

Analyze Your Results   

Analyze the test results and plan corrective or improvement actions.  

Stage 2: Comparison with Existing Software Products 

While industry standards and benchmarks are excellent points of comparison, it's also important to compare your products with competitors or previous software versions.  

Here's how you can use this approach: 

Define Requirements  

Before starting any comparisons, you need to determine what exactly needs to be scrutinized. Here are some points to consider: 

  • Understand what features and functionalities your target audience needs. 
  • Think about the pain points your product is supposed to solve. 
  • Define the feature priorities to help promote your product in the market and align with your business goals. 

Describe Your Competitors  

Next, you need to understand which competitors you want to compare with. Study the market and find competitors with similar solutions. Make a list of competitors to compare your software against. 

Build a Comparison Matrix  

List the features and functionalities you want to compare and visually represent them using a comparison matrix. Evaluate the comparison features of each product. 

Research the Product  

Gather as much information as possible about the shortlisted competitor products. Review industry and customer reviews and relevant documents, visit their website, and download demos if possible. 

Perform a Comparison Analysis 

Conduct the research and compare your products against each other. You want to pay attention to the presence or absence of features, as well as their respective characteristics. Highlight strengths and weaknesses and mark areas where you or your competitors have an advantage. 

Report Your Findings  

Finally, findings must be presented to investors, stakeholders, decision-makers, etc., to understand if comparison testing should change the direction of software development. 

Comparison testing evaluates software and ensures it meets industry standards and user expectations. Whether you're comparing against standards or competitors, thorough testing can help you identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in your software. 

Benefits of Comparison Testing in Software Engineering 

Comparison testing in software engineering offers several benefits:  

  • Identification of Deficiencies: By comparing different software versions or competing products, comparison testing helps identify deficiencies or areas for improvement. This enables developers to address issues and enhance the quality of the software (consider reading our article on automated regression testing for insights into optimizing your testing process).  
  • Benchmarking Against Standards: Comparison testing allows software to be benchmarked against industry standards, best practices, or predefined benchmarks. It helps ensure that the software meets or exceeds established criteria for performance, security, usability, and other attributes.  
  • Optimization of Resources: By identifying the most efficient or effective software version or solution, comparison testing helps optimize resource allocation, such as computing resources, memory usage, or processing time. This leads to more efficient resource use and improved overall performance.  
  • Enhanced User Experience: Comparison testing helps identify the software version or solution that provides the best user experience. By comparing usability, interface design, and user satisfaction metrics, developers can prioritize enhancements that improve the overall user experience.  
  • Competitive Analysis: Comparison testing enables organizations to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their software relative to competing products. This competitive analysis helps inform strategic decisions, such as product positioning, feature prioritization, and market differentiation.  
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: Comparison testing provides objective data and insights that support data-driven decision-making in software engineering. Stakeholders can make informed decisions about software development, deployment, and optimization by comparing quantitative metrics and observations. 
  • Continuous Improvement: Comparison testing fosters a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging iterative development and refinement of software solutions. Developers can continuously enhance software quality and performance over time by comparing successive software versions and incorporating feedback from testing. 

 

What Are Compared in Comparison Testing? 

Comparative testing involves comparing different parts of software or systems to assess functionality, functionality and fitness for a particular purpose. Here are some features that are compared under comparative testing. 

  • Identification of Deficiencies: This includes testing how well the sоftware performs in real-world situations, such as system management tasks, backup and restore management, system management, and disaster recovery planning. 
  •  Benchmarking Against Standards: A comparison of the visual features of the software, including user interface (UI), information systems, accessibility, aesthetics, and design efficiency. 
  • Ease of Use: Examines the ease with which users perform essential tasks in the application, including workflow efficiency, learning curve, resource approval, error handling, and support documentation. 
  •  Processing Speed: This examines the speed with which the software processes inputs and instructions, including load testing, stress testing, and data processing speed. 
  •  Uptime: An evaluation of the system's ability to perform tasks such as startup, shutdown, and peak resource utilization. 
  •  Database Systems Performance: Comparison of database systems performance metrics, including query performance, data integrity, scalability, fault tolerance, and backup/recovery mechanisms. 
  •  System Architecture: This involves analyzing the system and the system, including component dependency, scalability, ease of maintenance, modularity, safety design principles, and fault isolation. 
  •  Installation: An analysis of the ease, speed, and complexity of installing software on different platforms, devices, browsers, and more. 
  •  Compatibility: Testing hоw the software interacts with different platforms, devices, browsers, networks, operating systems, hardware, peripheral devices, and software integration points.  
  •  Supported Hardware: Checking and comparing software performance against supported hardware specifications, including minimum requirements and recommended specifications. 

 These are just some examples of what can be compared during comparison testing, and the specific elements may vary depending on the context and requirements of the testing process. 

Comparison Testing Use Cases in Software Testing 

Comparative testing is conducted in various forms. It also has different functions, depending on your individual needs. Let's consider five different scenarios in which you can use comparative testing. 

Comparing Your Software with Competitors' Products

This classic example of software comparison helps evaluate your product compared to competitors' offerings. 

Objectives 

  •  Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your product
  • Finding ways to differentiate your product and meet unmet needs
  • Establishing a baseline and using information to prioritize improvements

Methods 

  • Comparing features
  • Evaluating respective UI/UX
  • Measuring performance, such as speed, memory usage, resource use
  • Exploring security vulnerabilities 
  • Examination of system security vulnerabilities 

Comparing New and Old Versions of Your Software 

Comparative testing is also an excellent way to understand how updates, enhancements, and modifications have affected your software. 

 Objectives

  • Evaluate whether the new version offers a more intuitive and user-friendly interface compared to the old version
  • Identify and test previously reported issues and assess whether they have been successfully addressed in the new version
  • Check if all features and functionalities of the software working as intended in the new version

Methods 

  • Consider key tasks and measure the time it takes to complete them
  • Check memory usage
  • Input data into the program and verify the correctness of output
  • Observe the results of user testing for UX and any new features

Comparing Different Design or Functionality Solutions

Comparative testing can be conducted at a more detailed level. You can also use this technique to compare individual approaches to defining characteristics to understand which ones are better (to learn more about enhancing your product's quality, look at our QA services).

 Objectives  

  • Determine which solution aligns best with the project's goals and objectives
  • Assess each solution's design, functionality, and user experience strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify potential issues or limitations that may arise with each solution

Methods 

  • Conduct user testing sessions with representative participants to gather feedback on each solution's usability, intuitiveness, and overall user experience 
  • Assess the performance of each solution in terms of speed, efficiency, and reliability
  • Evaluate the usability of each solution by analyzing user interactions, navigation paths, and task completion rates

Comparison Testing in Software Engineering with Examples 

Comparison testing in software engineering involves comparing different versions of software or different software implementations to assess their performance, functionality, or other aspects. Here's an example of comparison testing:  

 Example 1: Performance Comparison Testing of Web Browsers  

Objective: Compare the performance of two popular web browsers (Browser A and Browser B) to determine which performs better regarding page load times.   

  • Selection of Test Cases: Identify a set of websites with varying complexities (e.g., simple static sites, dynamic sites with multimedia content) to use as test cases.  
  •  Baseline Measurement: Measure the page load times of each test case using Browser A as the baseline. Record the load times for comparison.  
  • Testing with Browser B: Repeat the same test cases using Browser B and record the load times for each website.  
  •  Comparison Analysis: Calculate the average load times for each browser and compare them. Additionally, analyze any significant differences in load times for specific types of websites or content.  
  •  Statistical Analysis: Use statistical analysis to determine if the differences in performance between Browser A and Browser B are statistically significant.   

Results:  

  

  • Browser A: Average load time of 2.5 seconds  
  • Browser B: Average load time of 2.0 seconds  

Based on the results, Browser B performs better regarding page load times than Browser A. This information can help users and developers decide which browser to use or optimize for better performance.  

Example 2: Payment Gateway Integration in E-commerce Platforms  

Objective: To compare the integration of two leading payment gateways (Gateway A and Gateway B) on an e-commerce platform to determine which offers better transaction efficiency, security, and user experience.  

Procedure:  

  • Selection of Criteria: Define specific criteria for comparison, including transaction processing time, success rate, security features, support for different payment methods, integration complexity, and user interface design during checkout.  
  • Test Environment Setup: Open both test versions with their gateways. Implement both payment gateways on a test version of the e-commerce website, ensuring that other performance variables are controlled and consistent across tests.  

Test Execution:  

  • Performance Testing: Conduct transactions using Gateways A and B under various conditions (e.g., high traffic, different payment methods) to measure processing times and success rates.  
  • Security Analysis: Evaluate each gateway's security features, including encryption standards, compliance with payment card industry (PCI) standards, and fraud detection capabilities.  
  • User Experience Survey: Gather feedback from users who perform transactions using payment gateways, focusing on ease of use, trustworthiness, and overall satisfaction.  
  • Data Collection and Analysis: Collect and analyze performance data, security feature comparisons, and user feedback to assess each payment gateway's strengths and weaknesses.  

Results:  

  • Gateway A: It may excel in transaction speed and support various payment methods but lacks advanced fraud detection features.  
  • Gateway B: Provides robust security measures and a positive user experience but shows longer processing times during peak traffic.  

The detailed comparison reveals that while Gateway A offers speed and flexibility, Gateway B's vital security and user-focused design might align more with the e-commerce platform's long-term goals of building customer trust and ensuring transaction safety. Based on these findings, the QA specialist could recommend Gateway B, highlighting the importance of security and user experience over sheer transaction speed.  

Both examples show a structured approach to comparison testing in software engineering. They emphasize the importance of selecting objective, measurable criteria for comparison, such as page load times for web browsers and transaction processing times for payment gateways. These metrics enable clear, data-driven decisions. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, comparison testing in software testing is crucial to ensuring software products' quality, performance, and usability.  Whether comparing performance, functionality, design, or usability, thorough testing enables developers to deliver high-quality software that meets user expectations and industry standards.

Moreover, comparative usability testing allows for evaluating user experience across different interfaces, helping developers prioritize improvements that enhance usability and overall user satisfaction.  Embrace the opportunity to refine your software testing process with expert insights. Contact us now and take the first step towards delivering superior software solutions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is comparison testing in software testing? 

Comparison testing is a method used to compare the strengths, weaknesses, performance, and functionality of software with other products in the market or with previous versions of the same software.  

Why is comparison testing important in software development? 

Comparison testing helps understand if the software meets user requirements, compares different versions for improvements, ensures compatibility across platforms, and helps make informed decisions for a better user experience.  

When should comparison testing be conducted in software development? 

Comparison testing can be conducted at various stages, including early stages for market research and UI/UX design, middle stages for functionality testing, and late stages for quality assurance and performance testing.  

What are compared in comparison testing? 

Comparison testing evaluates diverse aspects of software or systems, focusing on operability, design, ease of use, and performance metrics like processing speed and operation time. It also examines database performance, system architecture, installation complexity, compatibility across various environments, and the impact on supported hardware.   

What are the benefits of comparison testing in software engineering? 

Comparison testing identifies deficiencies, benchmarks against standards, optimizes resources, enhances user experience, facilitates competitive analysis, supports data-driven decision-making, and fosters continuous improvement. 

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