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Effective Strategies for Cross Browser Testing

With the latest technologies and trends coming up in the online world, the major thing that is being added is the number of mobile devices and the latest updates in browsers.

Every other day, a new mobile device is launched in the market. With the buzz of new iPhones coming around the excitement gets doubled. However, this is not just limited to mobile devices, we see frequent updates in browsers as well.

Some people love chrome, others are fond of Firefox. Don’t forget Safari too. Some unfortunate souls even have to use Internet Explorer because of company restrictions.

So, billions of people, thousands of choices for browsers, devices, operating systems. But one thing remains the constant, USER EXPERIENCE. The user experience or you can say the experience that you provide to your users irrespective of the browser, operating system, or device. So, you need to perform cross-browser testing for your website across hundreds and thousands of possible combinations to test that the website or the Web application should work perfectly.

Testing on all the thousands of combinations is not a wise thing to do, you will spend all the time testing your website even on some combinations that your audience might not be using or you might be missing out on some common errors because of that. So, you need to have an effective and a time-saving cross-browser testing strategy.

So, let’s get started.

Target the Browsers to Add in The Testing Matrix:

You need to prepare a matrix of browsers that your audience might be using.

It will require a lot of research on the data before you can choose the few among the hundreds of browsers available on which your website is meant to be rendered by your audience.

Let’s discuss the tools that will help you in gathering relevant information regarding the browsers used most by the users you are meant to target.

  1. Google Analytics – Google analytics can help you track important data like the device used by the users to browse your website, the platform and operating system mostly used, along with the browsers used by them. Using it, you can prioritize the most used browsers and sort them accordingly in the matrix.
  2. Data from Other Sites – If your website is new, Google Analytics won’t help you much. In that case, you can research on other sites that are similar to yours and gather analytics on them.
  3. Stats Counter – Stats Counter is the perfect tool that lets you gather data specifically based on your requirements. You can keep filters like location, time, operating system, browser, and sort accordingly.

Once the data source is figured out for your browser matrix, it’s time to decide the key factors you will need to cover.

Data Points Required for Your Browser Compatibility Matrix:

Let’s discuss the important data points to collect from the analytic tools based on which you can plan your cross-browser compatibility strategy.

  1. Platform – The users can access your website from a desktop, mobile or tablet. Find out the most preferred platform of your users and make sure that the website is rendered properly on them.
  2. Browser Usage – After you have selected the platforms, find out the browsers that are mostly used to access websites on those platforms. The results will vary location wise and also according to operating systems.
  3. Compare the Platforms – Do the research over and over again and find out a combination of the most used platform, browser and operating system in a specific zone. Know the best combination preferred by users before you start testing.

Once your analysis is done, sort the browsers according to the following points that will help you to find out the best-supported browser for your website.

  • A- The browser that is most loved and fully supports your website.
  • B- Browsers that are not so preferred yet supports your website.
  • C- Browsers that are partially supported and most preferred.
  • D- Browsers that are partially supported and least preferred.
  • E- Preferred browsers that do not support your website at all.
  • F- Least preferred browsers that do not support your website.

Analytic results will help you rate the browsers accordingly based on traffic and conversion.

browser rating based on traffic and conversion

So that you can prioritize which browser to test first and which one the last.

Prerequisites For Cross Browser Testing:

Now that your browser matrix is ready, and you have targeted the browsers on which your website should render properly, let’s discuss the perquisites that are mandatory to have before you perform cross-browser testing.

  • First, make sure that you know how to perform cross-browser compatibility testing or at least have a testing team in your project.
  • Formulate a testing strategy by getting all the devices ready with you. In case any device is unavailable, use an emulator. Install all the required browsers in the system on which testing is to be performed.
  • You can also use a cloud-based cross-browser testing platform like Lambdatest that will provide you with thousands of browsers and devices on which testing can be performed.

The Three Basic Steps In Cross Browser Testing:

You’re now all set with the browsers to test upon, the tool and all the prerequisites, now it’s time to know how to go ahead with performing cross-browser testing. You can execute your website’s cross-browser compatibility tests in three phases.

  • Testing for Bugs – This is the first step where you will execute all the test case scenarios and note down any bugs that you notice. While fixing those bugs you should make sure that any new bug is not created. Perform proper unit testing after each defect is fixed.
  • Create Plans and Strategies – This is the second phase where you repeat the test case scenarios performed in stage 1 at all the browsers. Classify the browsers according to priority into 3 types – High Risk, Medium Risk, and Low Risk. Your aim should be to cover all the test case scenarios in a very few iterations of testing rounds.
  • Sanity Testing – After all the defects, misalignments and other compatibility issues are fixed, its time to move on to Sanity Testing. Here, prioritize the browsers and start testing, starting from the least preferred ones. Go back to level 2 and perform the same test until you are sure that your website is rendered properly in all the targeted browsers.

What Can be the Possible Elements to Test for Cross Browser Compatibility?

Once you have set your system for testing, procedure, tool, the strategy now let’s see the elements that you need to check or that might be the victims of cross-browser issues.

  • Alignment of elements – Ensure that all the elements in your website are properly aligned in all the browsers.
  • SSL Verification – Some browsers may not support your SSL certificate. To avoid unforeseen situations when a user is unable to access your website because your SSL certificate is not supported by the browser, check your SSL certificate’s browser support.
  • Rendering of Fonts – Nowadays, most websites use cool new web fonts. However, some new fonts are not supported by many browsers. You will need to make sure that the fonts you are using in your website are supported by all the browsers that you selected in the matrix.
  • Media Elements – You should ensure that the audio or video elements used in your website are rendered properly in all the browsers.
  • Validate HTML and CSS – An HTML tag when left open will easily cause disruption in the display when a website is rendered in the browser. Use W3C Markup or other validation services to ensure that your code is properly written without any syntax error.
  • Check the API Requests– It is often observed that in a website when an external API is called, it throws some errors because the API request is not supported by the browser. You will need to make sure that the browsers on which you are running tests accept all API requests which are made by your website.
  • Pop-Ups– Many times pop-ups don’t occur in some browsers so check if all the pop-ups are being displayed properly and are opening in all browsers. Also, see if they are correctly aligned as per the design.
  • Alignment of checkboxes– Checkboxes can cause problems in some browsers while they may render properly in the others. Make sure that all your checkboxes are properly aligned and in working condition in all browsers.
  • Test the buttons– Not all buttons work the same in all browsers. Test by clicking on them, check if they are redirecting to the correct URL.
  • Drop Down Menus– IE and Safari are the favorite victims of drop-down menus. Check if the drop downs work as expected in all the browsers.
  • Grids/Tables– Broken grids and tables affect the user experience badly. Check the alignment and location of tables and grids( if any) across every browser.
  • Test for sessions and cookies, zoom in and zoom out functionality, the appearance of scroll, dates, rendering of HTML animations, flash media elements, mouse hovering across all the browsers.

Once you make sure that all your elements are rendered on all browsers, devices, and operating systems and you get a seamless experience all the platforms. You are all set with the perfect cross-browser testing strategy.

With the software industry evolving daily and new devices and browsers arriving in the market, cross-browser testing can be a little scary at first in case of a large application since it involves hundreds of combinations and maybe thousands of scenarios. However, once a proper testing strategy and planning is devised section wise, the job becomes much easier and you ensure a seamless experience for all your users no matter what device or browser they are using.

Author Bio:

Deeksha Agarwal is a growth specialist at LambdaTest and is a passionate tech blogger. She loves to write on latest trending technologies.

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