Review: WP Boom visual regression tool

One of the pain points of upgrading a WordPress site is plugin or theme interactions. There are so many moving parts, and how can you easily tell if something goes wrong? On a website with many pages, it may not be obvious at first if there is an issue. We’d been looking for a visual regression tool to screenshot pages of the site before and after updates. But the semi-solutions we found were all lacking something, and taking manual screenshots is time-intensive. 

And boom, before we could get too far into exploring creating our own solution, WP Boom came to the rescue.

What does WP Boom visual regression testing do?

WP Boom takes screenshots of various pages of your website. It can take weekly “snapshots”, and send you a report by email, and / or you can perform a snapshot manually whenever you want. It supports live and staging sites so you can make your changes on your staging site and visually compare to your live site before you push your upgrades out to your live website.

The user interface is clear and easy to use.

WP Boom visual regression tool scans your website for changes

When you click on the text, “Click to view this page’s comparison full screen”, you’ll see a full page view of the webpage in question. You can click on “Show Diff” to see the differences highlighted in pink, or click between “Show Old” and “Show New” to see each one individually. There is a link to the webpage itself at the top of this page, so you can also easily click to view it and see whether you see the issues noted on the live site and whether they are worth addressing.

How much does it cost?

As of this writing, WP Boom pricing ranges from the Free plan (2 websites, 20 snapshots per 30 days) to the Hosting plan (150 websites, 1500 snapshots per 30 days, $89 per month), with several intermediate plans in between. We find the cost extremely reasonable for the amazing service provided. If you’re running your own website, you can use the free version and ensure your website doesn’t change visually when you run WordPress upgrades, which is important for keeping your website secure. If you’re a freelancer managing a few sites at a time, one of the lower tier plans will cover your needs. And if you’re a larger agency, try the Hosting plan, or reach out to the tool’s developer.

Our Rating

We rate WP Boom 4 stars, because it is almost perfect, it solves most of our visual regression woes, and the tool’s developer is very responsive when we have questions. WP Boom takes the guesswork out of upgrading WordPress. No more wondering if your upgrades have caused trouble on your website, or tracking down issues you need to address.

The only reason we didn’t rate it 5 stars is because there is always room for improvement! Features we’d like to see included in future versions:

  • Ability to set specific pages for scanning. The tool scans a collection of pages, but on some sites we tend to have issues on specific pages we’d like to scan each time.
  • Workaround for alternate cron. If we’re using alternate cron on a site, the scanner tends to get stuck on pages.
  • Mobile view scanning to see if anything changed on mobile / responsive view after upgrades.

One caveat: the tool can show blank pages or internal server errors if the website’s server has limited resources. This is not at all the fault of the tool, but is something to be aware of if you are using a web host with limited resources or frequent server issues.

If you’re afraid of upgrading your WordPress website because of what might happen, first read our article on how to upgrade WordPress safely, and then use WP Boom before and after your upgrades to be sure everything looks good.

Have you tried WP Boom or another visual regression tool for WordPress? What was your experience?

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Alisa Cognard

Alisa was one of the first team members to join Red Earth Design, Inc. in early 2004. From data entry, she progressed to MySQL database manipulation and PHP coding. Alisa is responsible for all kinds of odds and ends: installing new websites, adding features to them, programming databases, PHP coding, website troubleshooting, website security, and organizational tasks for Red Earth Design.

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