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What is cross-browser testing: full answers to all questions

One of the quintessential questions when learning QA is ‘what is cross-browser testing?’.

This is one of the first and most important aspects you have to take into consideration, as it allows you to check if your website works the way you intended it to work on all of the main Internet Browsers available right now.

If you’re new to the term and the process of cross-browser testing, this article will take you through all the steps and provide all the necessary information for excellent results.

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What is cross-browser testing?

And how to test cross browser compatibility?

Cross-browser testing revolves around analyzing and comparing how your website behaves on different Internet browser environments Whether it’s Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, or Microsoft Edge to name just a few, you need to make sure that your website runs smoothly on all of these platforms, without any bugs or functionality issues.

This is pretty much the basic cross browser testing definition, it’s a non-functional but complex testing process that will ensure optimal user experience, regardless of the browser your customers use.

At the beginning, cross-browser testing was done manually by actually installing as many browsers as possible on computers and navigating the website to see check if everything runs smoothly. Nowadays, things are a lot simpler thanks to cross-browser testing tools and applications.

Comparium is one of the popular cross-browser testing tools at the moment, offering a wide list of services and functionalities, without the need to install new software on your computer.


Why is it important to test browser compatibility?

Creating your own website can be one of the most interesting moments in your career as an entrepreneur. You’ve worked hard to see it ready, and now you're looking forward to getting it launched so that potential customers can reach your business.

Performing final checks is probably not an aspect that seems very important at this point in time, but if you want to have the best chance of success, you should take a few more hours to conduct a final review of your site. Verify that it meets certain basic requirements.

No one wants to create a website that only works on Chrome, or that looks and acts completely different on other browsers. This is why it’s essential to learn how to do cross browser testing properly.

Chrome may be the most popular internet browser right now. However, there are millions of users out there that prefer other solutions, and even some that use old versions of Internet Explorer. It’s vital that you make sure your website runs properly on all browsers so you can reach more people.

How to do browser compatibility testing?

Find the answer below.

As previously mentioned, nowadays, you can use dedicated apps in order to perform cross-browser testing. Even more than that, you can automate the process so you save time that can be used for other aspects related to your website.

There are pros and cons for both manual and automated cross-browser testing, however, the latter comes out on top nowadays as it’s much faster and it requires less manpower.

It is very important to check the design in all browsers as often as possible. After each piece of code written, it’s a good idea to test. We know it seems like a pesky and time-consuming process, but in the long run, it will save you time wasted debugging when problems arise.

Why do we say that? Because when an error occurs, you're sure it's in the piece of code written since the last test. The more often you test that piece of code, the smaller it will be, so you save time looking for the error.

Comparium is one of the best tools that can help you learn how to do browser compatibility testing fast and easily. The app is fairly easy to use and extremely user-friendly, and after you’ve gotten the hang of it, we would recommend the following testing order:

  1. Chrome: the basic browser. On a general note, you shouldn’t start testing in other browsers until it works. The validity of the code must also be tested here before proceeding with the actual tests.
  2. Mozilla Firefox: it’s still a pretty popular browser worldwide, where you are most likely going to encounter issues in functionality and display.
  3. Internet Explorer: the 3 important versions: 8, 10, and 11.
  4. Safari: it’s not necessarily needed anymore since it shares the same engine as Google Chrome, but it’s always better to be 100% sure.
  5. Opera: there was a time when Opera enjoyed massive popularity. However, the rise of Chrome and Safari changed things. Even so, there are quite a few users that stick to Opera so include the latest version, at least.

What tools do you use for cross browser testing?

There are literally dozens of great cross-browser testing tools available nowadays. Most of them can do a pretty decent job in helping you test your website’s compatibility across all relevant browsers and platforms; however, you should always strive for excellence, and disregard the costs.

Following this line of thinking, here are the top products of the moment that define what is cross-browser testing done right:


Comparium


Comparium

4.5 Rank based on 1021 + users Reviews (250)
Requirements: Chrome, Mozila Firefox, Opera, Safari, Edge, IE-11
Category: Online service

Comparium is by far the most complete app of the moment, and it will show you how to test cross browser compatibility properly. It will allow you to manage testing on several different operating systems and web browsers such as Google Chrome 81.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0, 10.0, Mozilla Firefox 75.0, 74.0, 68.0, Opera 67.0, 66.0, and Safari 13.0, 12.0.

Furthermore, you can choose from two testing modes - screenshots and live testing. If you go for taking screenshots of your website on various browsers and operating systems, you get the option to compare the results, and even automatically find differences. The live testing functionality allows you to navigate the website as if you’d have the specific browser installed on your computer.

Let's look at pros and cons of Comparium

Pros
  • Free to use directly after accessing the website;
  • Works 100% in-browser, no need to install an app.
Cons
  • The live testing tool is limited in the free plan.

LambdaTest

LambdaTest is a cloud-based app that features the possibility to run Selenium tests on scalable Selenium grids, on no less than 2000 browser environments. It also features one-click for logging bugs on any tracking tool such as BitBucket, Asana, GutHub, Slack, Trello, or JIRA. It can be used on desktop and mobile browsers as well, in combination with numerous operating systems.

Furthermore, it has an integrated debugging tool that can be very helpful to fix issues straight form the live testing stage.

Let's look at pros and cons of LambdaTest

Pros
  • Offers Selenium test automation on desktop and mobile;
  • Includes geo location testing.
Cons
  • It comes with an installer package that needs to be added to the computer before using.

CrossBrowserTesting

This is another advanced but comprehensible cross-browser testing tool that will run Visual, Manual, and Selenium tests up in the cloud, on no less than 2050 real mobile and desktop browsers. Besides Selenium, it offers Appium test automation as well and you can record the entire process and then replay it if you want to go over it again.

CrossBrowserTesting contains native debugging tools, simple CI integrations, and offers real iOS and Android devices for mobile testing.

Let's look at pros and cons of CrossBrowserTesting

Pros
  • Several automated testing processes to choose from;
  • Real mobile devices for Android and iOS.
Cons
  • The interface can get a little tricky if you’re not used to these type of apps.

Who and when gets to test all browsers?

Now that we’ve covered what is cross-browser testing and also explored some of the best apps to do it, let’s take a look at who tests and when it’s the perfect time to do so.

Answering the “Who” question is more complicated as sometimes there’s no designated person for the testing part. It really depends on how the company is structured. Some have designated tester, while others let testing in the hands of the developers themselves.

The “When” question is a lot easier to answer as you can either test during development or in the pre-release/staging phase. New features are tested during development before being pushed towards production. Likewise, in the staging phase, QA teams tests the entire website or app to make sure it’s ready to go live.

How to test cross browser compatibility?

Read below how cross browser testing definition is implemented into practice.

Developers and QA testers usually follow a workflow or a checklist when it comes to cross-browser testing. The workflow is designed in a way that reduces time consumption to a minimum and guarantees there are no loopholes left. While the details of a testing workflow differ from one website to another, these are the main steps:

  • Initial Planning
  • Development
  • Testing and Discovery
  • Fixes / Iteration

Just like we did when we explored what is browser compatibility testing, we’re taking a closer look at each of the steps.

Initial Planning

This phase includes meetings with the client (or your employer) to figure out exactly what the website should look like in terms of functionality, content, and other elements.

Development

The development stage is the most complex of them all. It’s a good idea to split the website into modules like - home page, shopping cart, payment process, etc. It’s here when tools like Comparium prove their worth, allowing developers to rapidly test across multiple browsers simultaneously.

Testing and Discovery

Once you feel that everything is set with development and you’re pleased with how the various modules of the website function in the most popular browsers, it’s time to bring in the big guns. You probably remember from the cross browser testing definition that there are almost endless combinations of operating systems and internet browsers.

Fixes

It’s now when you start applying fixes to the issues found in testing.

Do you know any tips on cross browser testing?

Learning how to do cross browser testing isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process that takes lots of practice and helpful tips and tricks are always welcome. Therefore, after clearing up what is cross browser testing, we’re also sharing some of the best practices with you.

  • Understand that cross-browser testing is a balancing act - unfortunately, there’s no fix recipe for the perfect testing procedure. Most of the time, it’s a mix between automated and manual testing. Knowing best approaches is a great way to make sure you won’t miss anything.
  • Be careful with the choices you make - good cross-browser testing comes from smart planning. Allow yourself plenty of time to decide on which browser yu’re going to test by looking at how your customers are interacting with your site or other similar websites.
  • Don’t skip mobile testing - no developer should make the huge mistake of not testing for mobile. Sure, you may first develop the website for mobile compatibility, but other browsers and operating systems may function differently.
  • Maintaining realistic expectations - the chances for your site to work and look the same on all browser out there are very slim. So, during the cross-browser testing phase, don’t go overboard trying to make it look and function identically.

Conclusion

This journey in the world of cross-browser testing has taken us through all the twists and corners of the process. Even if you’ve never heard of this action before, you now know what is cross browsing testing, the best tools to check compatibility, and the precise steps on how to do browser compatibility testing.

Tools such as Comparium were developed to make testers’ life a lot easier by automating the process and spotting differences between various browsers. However, knowing how to do browser compatibility testing manually doesn’t hurt either as sometimes you will also need it.

Remember that it’s a process that gets easier with experience and each time you’ll test a new website you’ll know more than before.

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