What is Cross Browser Testing? A Comprehensive Guide
Delivering exceptional end-user experiences has become a top priority for every business today. However, there are multitude of browsers, operating systems, devices, and form factors available in the market today. Ensuring seamless user interaction with a website or web app – regardless of the device or operating system - isn’t easy. To ensure consistent experiences, QA teams need to enable cross browser testing to detect issues in time, ensure good performance, and guarantee cross browser compatibility.
What is cross browser testing?
Cross browser testing is a type of non-functional testing. It evaluates and verifies the performance and behavior of a website/web app across different browser environments. It is important to compare and analyze the performance of a website or web app across multiple browsers. This helps to ensure an optimal user experience.
Cross browser testing ensures that introduction of any new feature works perfectly for your target audience. It also tests that any new addition you make to the code doesn’t break old previously working features.
Today’s digital users use a different browser-OS combinations across Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Windows, Android, and iOS. They also use different devices such as smartphones, tablets, PCS, and laptops. Cross browser testing ensures that the products are as browser-agnostic as possible and deliver a consistent user experience across the diverse and ever-growing range of browsers and devices.
What is the need for cross browser testing?
Modern websites and web apps are no longer accessed only via laptops or PCs. Today’s users use an array of different devices to surf through content, shop online, or plan their travel itineraries. Irrespective of what device, browser, or OS is used, users expect a consistent and seamless experience – every time.
Cross browser testing primarily checks if a website will look and behave as intended on different browsers and different versions of the same browser.
By allowing developers and testers to abstract browser differences during the testing process, it helps
- Identify browser-specific compatibility errors and debug them quickly.
- Eliminate the risk of losing a significant part of your target audience – simply because your website does not work on their preferred browser, OS, or device.
- Ensure that the basic functionality of any website works as expected, including all dialog boxes, menus, form fields, touch interfaces, fonts, images, layout, etc.
- Test if the website design is fluid and fits different screen sizes and orientations.
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What are the benefits of cross browser testing?
To ensure user adoption and satisfaction, it is important that the websites and web apps you create work across an acceptable number of browsers. As a web developer, it is your responsibility to make sure that the app you create works for all users. It does not matter what browser, device, or additional assistive tools they are using.
Cross browser testing makes sure that
- Different browsers on different devices offer the same user experience.
- Browser-related issues are detected and rectified early in the life cycle.
- Even if the new device and OS combinations get introduced, the website maintains its performance.
- Browser-specific functionalities do not interfere with the end-user experience.
- Every browser responds to changes in features or functionality in an acceptable manner.
- A responsive design is provided to users across devices and operating systems.
Top tips for effective cross browser testing
Whether you run cross browser testing during the development phase, in continuous integration pipelines, or in the staging/pre-release phase, here are top tips to embrace for maximum effectiveness:
Select the right browsers:
The growing number of browsers, devices, and operating systems can make it difficult to test your website on every browser-OS combination present. A more realistic approach is to focus your testing efforts on maximizing your website’s reach within your target market. Make sure to choose browsers based on careful analysis of which browser-OS combinations your target audience uses and on what devices your website is generally viewed.
Establish a strong baseline:
Instead of testing your website on different browsers in one go, begin by running all your design and functionality tests on your primary browser. It will help you get a fair idea of whether your website looks and behaves as intended. Only once you rectify these issues should you go ahead and test your website across different OS-browser-device combinations.
Create a robust testing plan:
Once you have decided on the browsers and devices you want to test your website on, it is time to create a robust testing plan, including your strategies, objectives, plan, resources, and deliverables. In this stage, you should also finalize the infrastructure you would need to carry out cross browser testing, including VMs, simulators, and other cloud-based testing infrastructure.
Undertake automated testing:
When carrying out cross browser testing, you can undertake manual testing to test different scenarios sequentially. However, automated testing can help you maximize coverage and reusability, while maintaining the pace.
Use the right tools:
To test your website for optimum performance, make use of modern cross browser testing tools. Today’s low and no-code tools can help test your website's user experience for cross-browser rendering and responsiveness across multiple browsers to meet compatibility benchmarks – without having to write a single line of code.
Measure and monitor:
Once you execute the tests, make sure to share the results across teams using different tools. This helps in keeping members of cross-functional teams on the same page. It also allows them to work collaboratively on fixing issues and achieving shared goals of better website performance and functionality.
Given the variety of devices and operating systems mushrooming today, offering a positive user experience is critical. Taking the right approach to cross browser testing can ensure your users have a seamless and consistent experience with your website or web app, regardless of the device, OS, or browser they use – thus improving satisfaction and loyalty.