With over 1.5 billion websites on the world wide web today, internet usage is on an all-time high. Developers, users and software testers all over the world use various combinations of browsers and operating systems to access the internet. In such a scenario, it is important to make sure that the website/application in question works properly irrespective of the browser being used to access it.
The problem has become even more complex with the introduction of mobile devices to the scenario. Interestingly, the number of mobile device users has shot up to 7740 million since 318 million! A lot of users find it easy to access the web through their mobile devices rather than using traditional desktops. Hence, testing a website for cross browser compatibility is one of the hottest topics of debate in the world of software quality assurance and needs to be addressed carefully.
Not only this, there are ample benefits of having a cross browser compatible website. Let’s discuss in detail how testing your website for cross browser compatibility helps you.
1. Uniform User Experience Across All Browsers – Although statistics indicate that Google Chrome, Safari, and UC browsers are the top 3 browsers in 2018 but this information cannot be treated as a metric for designing as users in different areas prefer different browsers. The first and foremost reason for testing your website for cross browser compatibility is that it makes sure that the users around the world have a uniform user experience.
As different people from different locations have different choice for browsers they use. In Germany Firefox holds the position of second most used browser with ~20% market share whereas it doesn’t have a position in world’s top 3 browsers. So, we have to make choices from a large number of browsers depending upon location, users, age group, demographics, and a lot more.
Cross browser compatibility ensures that irrespective of the platform your website/application loads and functions well. After all, not everyone is going to use the same browser or operating system that you use for accessing your website.
So, it would be better if you make an efficient use of various analytics tools like Google analytics, kissmetrics, etc to gather sufficient information about source of traffic, the most liked browsers by your audience, and a lot more to that. Assumptions cannot help you win in this case!
2. Increases User Base – Gone are the days when Internet Explorer or Netscape used to dominate the world of computers and the internet. With changing times, users have switched to recent and modern browsers of the likes of Google Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox. It is an unsaid rule of the business world that the more enhanced your web application’s user experience is, the more loyal your user base would be.
Data Source – https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php
Apart from that, a user may use multiple platforms to access your website simultaneously. On one hand, a user may use Google Chrome to browse, while on the other hand may use Safari to browse the same application on an iPhone. Hence, to retain and increase your user base, it is crucial that you perform cross browser testing.
3. Boost In Sales – Well, in case you are the owner of an e-commerce store or some website that is dependent upon internet for business, it is high time that you get your website tested for cross browser compatibility! And that’s not just a wild goose chase. The statistics speak for themselves –
4. Improves Functionality – Another important advantage of cross browser testing is that it enhances the functionality of the website manifold. In case a website or web application performs well in one browser, it must not be assumed that it will behave equally well in other browsers. You need to be a bit extra cautious with RIAs (Rich Internet Applications).
One of the best methods to make sure that the website’s functionality is not affected based on the browser is to repeat the similar use cases or tests across browsers while keeping a check on the contrast of differences. This must be done with respect to the actions being taken and the information being displayed.
5. Aesthetic Design And Improved Accessibility – Accessibility of a website is not just about it being accessible to the differently abled, but also to any user! A website is said to be accessible to a wider user base, if it behaves equally well across a large number of browsers and gives a better experience to all users. Cross browser testing thus makes sure the web application is more accessible on all platforms.
Not just that, it has been a general observation that the way cross browser compatible websites are coded results in an aesthetic and pleasing design. The users love to use and access a cross browser compatible website on almost all the platforms.
If the website looks the same on Mobile and Desktop, it is not a good practice. Take the example below.
Amazon.com as a ‘Desktop view’ on Mobile
Amazon.com in mobile view.
Which one would you prefer on mobile? I’ll prefer the second one as it is more accessible through mobile.
So, you need to test for every aspect as it affects the user behaviour and experience.
6. Get Rid Of Browser Specific Testing -It becomes really difficult for a software tester to compare test logs and test results in case they do not have identical tests for each browser platform. It is crucial to have a single test that runs in more than one browsers in order to have a smooth testing experience. This makes it easy to predict or detect the discrepancy in results. Not just that, reproducing the bug also becomes a lot easier.
7. Mobile Compatibility – Ensuring cross browser compatibility has become all the more important with the introduction of mobile devices and browsers. Users across the globe are increasingly switching to mobile devices and browsers for accessing the internet while they are on the go. Not having a mobile friendly website may result in a reduced user base and affect your blog or business website negatively.
Also, Google has make it compulsory for a website to be mobile friendly from SEO point.
Thus, it is crucial that you perform cross browser testing for mobile devices too before launching your website.
If you’re still confused, here is a quick look at how desktop and mobile device usage has grown over the years. This data shows that approximately 50% of users use mobile to browse your website.
Having all mobiles in one place isn’t feasible without the help of some tool. Various online cross browser testing tools like LambdaTest can come in handy for the same. The tool lets you perform cross browser testing on more than 2000 browsers, browser versions, devices, and operating systems combinations online for cross browser compatibility. You can select from a wide variety of options like iPhones, iPads on different iOS versions.
8. Makes Your Product Global – Cross-browser compatibility makes sure that your product is global in its approach and is not restricted to a given area or region. It makes sure that the website or web application works flawlessly on numerous conditions irrespective of various factors like differences in screen size, operating systems and resolutions, which may otherwise result in a derogatory product.
9. No Browser Biasing – A lot of developers often tend to have a favorite browser which they are accustomed to work with. They often use this ‘favorite browser’ to develop and debug the the entire website. The condition is known as ‘browser bias’ and can have fatal results for the product.
The reason behind this is that the developer and the user may have different ‘favorite browsers’ leading to a conflict. The developers bias towards a browser must not result in a browser-biased functionality of the product. Thus, cross browser compatibility is crucial.
You never know after all, where your users reside! Nobody can predict cross browser compatibility issues while developing a website or web application but it is the duty of the testing and quality assurance team that the user experience does not get affected at any cost at least by something that can be tested and fixed for good.
So, go ahead, test your website and ensure your users are enjoying it the way you want them to.