A browser – also called a web browser – is a software program that enables internet users to access a plethora of web pages or surf the net.
Today, internet users have a variety of browser options to choose from. The most popular ones include Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, UC Browser, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.
All browsers use different features and functionalities to display web pages. Even different versions of the same browser can have varying features leading to a different user experience altogether. That’s why cross-browser testing is significant; a method to ensure that a website offers perfect user experience to every visitor regardless of the browser, operating system or device they might use.
What is Cross-Browser Testing?
While browsing the internet, have you ever noticed sometimes clicking on a button doesn’t take you to the next desired page? Or at times an embedded video doesn’t play on your browser, showing an error message that the video format is not supported. These problems arise because your browser is incompatible with the website.
Cross-browser testing is a compatibility test. It checks the functionality of a website or web application on multiple browsers, screen resolutions, devices and operating systems for optimal performance. It tests a website’s behavior in different platforms and ultimately helps in rectifying errors.
Importance of Cross-Browser Testing
Aspects that make cross-browser testing an inevitable task are as follows:
1) Proper display on every major desktop browser
Unpleasant user experience works against your goal of retaining a visitor on your website which is the last thing a website developer or owner wants. Hence, it is highly important to check your website’s performance on every major browser.
Although Google Chrome is considered to be the most popular browser of today with over 64% of market share, the recent statistics by NetMarketShare reveal that a considerable number of internet users are using other browsers as well, including Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.
Thus, your website must work well on all popular browsers for maximum visitor retention.
2) Proper functioning on mobile devices
We are living in a time where many internet surfers do not even use computers for web surfing. They choose to explore the internet exclusively using their handheld devices.
Mobile web browsing means it is necessary to ensure compatibility of your application with every major mobile browser. The content of your website must adjust to varying screen sizes and resolutions. For instance, the images that appear perfectly on all desktop browsers may not be aligned appropriately on a mobile browser. Hence, mobile browser testing is essential; not only making the website compatible with the different screen sizes but with mobile operating systems as well.
How to do Cross-Browser Testing
2. The second step is to select browsers on which the testing is to be performed. Web traffic data can help identify the browsers that are popular among your site visitors.
3. In the next step, you perform the cross-browser testing for all the selected browsers. This action brings out bugs that might appear in different browsers.
4. Depending on the number and seriousness of issues, you can categorise the browsers as high-risk browsers, medium-risk browsers, and low-risk-browsers. In this way, you can differentiate ‘browser risk’. The high-risk browsers are the most problematic ones. Therefore, fixing bugs for high-risk browsers first decreases the risk of those bugs appearing in the low-risk browsers.
What to test?
Some of the important areas to be checked for compatibility are as follows:
- Page layout
- Text and image alignments
- Font styles & sizes
- Page navigation
- Mouse hover
- CSS, HTML or XHTML validation
- Client side validations of fields
- Header & footer layout
- SSL certificates
- Navigation page links
- Check box functionality
- Form saving functionality
- Scroll bar appearance
- Flash work
Cross-browser testing is a vital aspect of quality assurance. It can be done either manually or automatically. There are a number of tools available that can be used for quick and efficient browser compatibility testing. It is the web developer’s job to choose the right testing tool according to the project’s requirements.
It is practically impossible to test your website across all browsers, but the priority should be to make it compatible with a wide range of the most commonly used browsers, devices, and operating systems –especially those identified in your target market.
Get this right and you will maintain your brand image and ensure great customer satisfaction.