The main focus when creating a site that will function correctly in any environment is cross-browser testing. Just as mobile application developers need to test their application on various operating systems, it is important to view a site through many different browsers. This can seem like a moving target that is difficult to hit. With so many different browsers, you must account for them all. The developers must also think about changes made to the build. Some users may be using older versions of the browser, while other visitors may have limited hardware on an older phone. All of these scenarios need to be accounted for to maximize effectiveness. In this guide, we are going to take a look at what cross-browser testing is, and also why it is important.
Browser Agnostic Websites
With a cross-browser test, it can be a non-functional test to make sure your site is accessible on all of the popular browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari. Beyond that though, the development team must also factor in cases where the user may choose to use a less conventional browser. These might include Opera, Brave, SlimBrowser, or Vivaldi. Each browser will have its own advantages ranging from freeware to a very small footprint.
In addition to this, your cross-browser testing will also include running combinations between these browsers and operating systems. Firefox may behave differently when run on the Windows 10 platform versus running Firefox on macOS. Extensive testing needs to be done between all of the popular platforms to see what the site will look like in the wild.
Along with this thought of looking at your site on different operating systems, we must also consider which device will be used. Smartphones and tablets can have limited screen space. How will things appear when you have less room in comparison to desktop computers or laptops? Less screen space can leave a site with elements that are pushed together, making navigation difficult.
Can It Be Used By Everyone?
Going beyond just working with your site or web application on different browsers and operating systems, you also need to think about people with disabilities using your site. Take for example vision alone. People that are color blind might have trouble using clues you have set up with certain color schemes. There is a large spectrum as well in terms of how well people can see. This ranges from users where they have a slight decrease in peripheral vision all the way to visitors to your site that may experience the world as if they are looking through a pinhole. We want to be as accommodating as possible with these individuals.
Screen readers that can describe both pictures and paragraphs need to be looked at for every step of the process. When we are testing applications, are we seeking out users that are low vision? By looking for people that may struggle with the site or application, you can fix issues in real-time as you watch them work through the user flow.
The Breakdown Of Browser Usage
To truly understand the importance of browser testing with a wide spectrum, let’s look at some numbers. Far and away, the most popular browser is Chrome. Just like Google was able to conqueror the search engine market, they have been able to do very well with having most consumers adopt Chrome. This is due to impressive code, custom-written by their developers to make your browsing experience better.
What if you just target the browser that is used by most people? Depending on which numbers you look at, this percentage can be between 60 to 65%. Still though, that can leave you with close to 40% of your users where they may have a browsing experience that is less than optimal. If we add in the next two most used browsers, we have Safari with about 15% of the users and Firefox which comes in around 3 to 4% If you combine the top three browsers you will only cover 80% of web users. 20% will not be accounted for with your testing.
The browser market is divided to the point that trying to target just the top choices will significantly hurt revenue. With close to a quarter of all Internet users going with a browser not represented by the top three, developers for sites and applications need a way to easily test many different browsers at once. What are the solutions?
With cross-browser testing to be effective, we need a way to automate our testing. Not everything will be caught with our automated testing, but at the very least, software needs to look at our HTML, CSS, and JS to sift out the obvious mistakes that are made. This is because of the vast number of combinations that you will run into.
Look at just the top browsers that users can pick from. Chrome, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge. You can not force a user to upgrade to the most recent version of their browser. All of these have more than ten different versions that are active. Combine this with the fact the different browser builds can be used in conjunction with iOS, macOS, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. Add in many of the Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Red Hat, and you are faced with over 2000 different combinations. It is sobering to look at the math. When you have new developers come on board, they might be making changes to your codebase that could make it no longer function on one of these many combinations. The real answer here is the need for automated cross-browser testing.
Cloud-Based Browser Testing
We have looked at the importance of cross-browser testing. How can we automate some of these tests so that we can reasonably go through all of these different combinations and ship the product on time? Let’s look at an example of a mobile app testing platform.
Some developers use pCloudy. Trusted by large companies such as Honeywell and Jio, they have compiled all of the major browsers together along with the various builds. This technology sits in the cloud and can be accessed by your team anywhere they might be. When so many companies have users spread out all over the globe, having your testing tool with you no matter where you are is very handy.
When you want to run a cross-browser test, simply decide which environment you want to imitate. It would not make sense to go out and physically test your application on every operating system. This would result in countless phones, tablets, and desktops running different versions of the software. The cost would be immense in terms of collecting this many different devices that would all run different versions of the browser for browser testing.
Instead, automated cross-browser testing sites allow you to see what your code will look like on all these systems without the trouble of actually owning the hardware. In the end, it saves both time and money, allowing you to run over 2000 tests all at once with your browser testing.
The Cost Of Not Browser Testing
What is the real cost of not cross-browser testing? That will vary from company to company. You would need to look at your annual revenue. For a mid-sized software company bringing in five million dollars each year in revenue, if you were working with only the top three browsers, that is 20% of users that are not accounted for. Potentially, you are looking at a loss of close to a million dollars in revenue if your application doesn’t function properly on lesser-known browsers.
Compare this with the cost of automating your cross-browser testing. Looking at pCloudy, you have the Lite version and free of charge. This comes with a full hour of testing that you can utilize and see if you like using the product. There is no obligation to buy the service and it is not considered a trial that will expire. It is easy to test out the service and see if your team likes the way it integrates with your flow. You will have around-the-clock support as well as third-party application integration. You will then have unlimited real-time testing that you can accomplish. This is an excellent mobile app testing platform.
As you can see from the pricing in regards to automated testing on a variety of platforms, the potential profit loss versus the cost of the service makes this an easy decision. Professional developers will want to integrate one of these services into their design process to make sure there are no preventable errors found by the mobile app testing platform.
Users are accustomed to fast-loading applications and sites that can be accessed at all times. Broken functionality will cause your visitors to leave and check your site later, or they will find an alternative. Browsers follow Open Web Standards, but there are different ways to interpret these rules. The way HTML, CSS, and JS will show up on the different browsers will differ. Simply looking for bugs in your code will not clear up all the errors. It is important to look into services that can help you emulate these different browsers and operating-system configurations. For a small charge each month, you can make sure you are not losing out on revenue from users that are not accounted for with your mobile app testing platform.