January 16, 2023

What is Cross-Browser Testing? An Introduction

Progressive Web Applications

In the modern age of the digital experience, there has never been such a proliferation of devices, web browsers, software versions, or complex application functionalities. So, when you are developing an app, it is vital that you test against every possible browser (and version of that browser) that your work could possibly appear on. This practice is known as cross-browser testing. 

In this blog, we will look at what exactly cross-browser testing is and why it is important, how to conduct browser-testing, and why Perfecto is go-to industry partner for your cross-browser testing needs. 

Table of Contents:

What is Cross-Browser Testing?

Cross-browser testing is a method in which teams ensure their application works as designed when used on different devices (iOS and Android), different browsers, different OSs, and assistive tools like screen readers. 

Delivering a uniform experience of your application across browsers and browser versions means a pleasant UX regardless of the avenue the user has taken to get there. When it comes to deploying cross-browser testing as an aspect of your testing strategy, it can depend on your workflow and scope of the project. Two of the primary points to leverage these tests is during development to make sure things work as they should before pushing to production, and in the staging/pre-release phase to ensure no browser compatibility issues arise before launch. 

Related Reading:Perfecto’s Test Coverage Guide 

Why is Cross-Browser Testing Important?

Just like people have their preferred brand of soda — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper — they also will typically have a preferred or default browser that they use. And today, there are more browsers than ever: Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Pale Moon, and Vivaldi to name a few. 

On top of that, depending on the user’s tech savvy or ability to keep up with updates, all these browsers will have multiple versions. The different combinations of browsers and versions can be difficult for any tester to manage. 

So, when developing your application, you want to be certain that it is functioning properly without bugs or glitches on your browsers that your users leverage the most. Having a site that where the “Add to Cart” button does not work, if it has trouble processing credit card information correctly, or has images and other media that renders incorrectly is a great way to lose a potential consumer. It takes time to build trust between the consumer and your product, brand, and/or website. Losing that trust can happen in the blink of an eye — or an application visit. 

While there are a general set of standards for web design (known as Open Web Standards), the enforcement of them can vary wildly and it ultimately falls on you (the developer) to parse through the various differences in browsers and browser versions to create a quality product. 

How to Conduct Cross-Browser Testing

Depending on which cross-browser testing tools you decide to use to conduct cross-browser testing, the test creation and execution may look slightly different. Here, though, is a general explainer on how cross-browser testing is constructed: 

Create a baseline

Start by using one the most-used browsers; typically, it will be Chrome, but Safari or Firefox work, too. That way, right off the bat, you are covering a good chunk of users. You will want to test the functionality of your application there to see how it responds. 

Establish a strategy

You will want to then decide on all the browsers you should test against. Create a testing strategy with those browsers by determining what specifically you will be testing on them and what success will look like. Now, you are off to the races with all those browser and browser version combinations. 

Execute your tests

There are two schools of thought when it comes to executing tests: Manual or automated testing. You can go the manual route, which will be slow and time-consuming. The upside of it is — again, depending on the scope of project — you can be more confident in the quality and accuracy of your tests if you use this more hands-on approach. 

Automated testing will drastically reduce time spent on testing (which means cost savings!), and you could possibly condense your release cycle. Examining the same scenarios manually every time there is a new update or software change just to make certain other features have not been damaged can be an extremely tedious process. 

Determine devices to test on

Similar to deciding between manual and automated testing, you will next need to decide on whether you will test on real or virtual devices. Real devices are just what they sound like — physical phones and tablets that you run your application on. While testing on real devices provides the closest experience that a user will have, this approach can get quite expensive quite quickly. 

Virtual devices — emulators and simulators — replicate what users will experience on a real device. What virtual devices may lack in 1:1 recreation of user experience, they make up for it in sheer speed. Imagine every device (iPhone, Android, etc.), every model of the device, and every software version at your fingertips available to test. 

Related Viewing:Webinar: Real or Virtual? When, Where, & How to Use Emulators & Simulators 

Bottom Line

The way your application arrives to a user is a critical inflection point where they determine whether they buy what you are selling. If your application loads slowly, renders poorly, or just completely collapses in a puff of code on the browser they are using, you have just lost a customer — likely for good. 

That is why cross-browser testing is so important. Using it means you are ensuring all your bases are covered before the application you spent so much time on is received by the user as intended. And with such an important task to embed within your software development process, you want a partner that you can rely on. 

That is why Perfecto’s cross-browser testing capabilities — which are more than 50% faster than competitors — are the best way to ensure success for your app. Of all the options available to you discussed earlier, Perfecto has it all covered: We support all the browser versions you need in the cloud, you have access to both old and new versions of any browser for complete platform coverage, and the Perfecto test cloud supports both manual and automated testing. 

Do not just take our word for it — give us a try with our 14-day free trial! 

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