How To Proceed With Cross-browser Testing? An Ultimate Guide

Cross Browser Testing Guide

Cross-browser testing is the most efficient and effective way to ensure that your web app is compatible with every popular browser-OS-device combination. We have already published the detailed article “What Is Cross Browser Testing?” about its definition, importance, & application, and as promised there, this continuing article is going to focus on how you can proceed with cross-browser testing. So, go on reading this detailed piece of information as somewhat of a guide to move on the path of cross-browser testing.

Who Is Responsible For Performing Cross-browser Testing?

Proper planning or distribution of work becomes significantly easier when you know who is/are responsible for it. Similarly, you will be surprised to know that the entire responsibility of cross-browser testing is not on the shoulders of testers only. Different teams as well as different people get involved at different stages of the process of testing your app in different environments with different browser-OS-device combinations. Let’s check that out in a step-by-step manner.

  • First, you need to select the browsers that you want to test your application on. Otherwise, you may get stuck in a forever journey of testing a single application for the numerous browsers available out there. So, you need to select your target ones but the best part is that you don’t have to do that alone. In fact, a lot of people need to get involved in this step for the best results. Your clients, your business analysis teams, and marketing teams will conduct research at their levels to find out the browsers, operating systems, and devices that are most popular among your users as well as in the market. Also, you can use effective technical tools to collect usage/traffic statistics to shortlist the browsers.
  • It requires the entire project team to have a common interest, focus, time, money, and overall suitable infrastructure to successfully proceed with the project. So, make sure that they qualify for all these parameters.
  • Now, this is the stage where either the QA team or the design team, or both teams will get involved to know how the application should perform on different browsers.
  • This is the final action stage where the design team and the development team will analyze the results of the test, plan necessary changes, and implement them.

How To Select Browsers For Testing?

In the previous section, we already discussed the enormous number of browsers available out there and we mentioned how important it is to shortlist the ones that are popular among your users. Hence, to dive into the pool of numerous browsers, multiple operating systems, and different devices with different screen sizes & specifications, and to focus your efforts on serving your target market, you must follow an effective strategy that we have jotted down below.

  • Consider The Popularity: It might be the most common rule for shortlisting anything but it is the most effective one too. The most popular browsers are the ones that most of the tech users are using and your users are most likely to use some of them. Anyone having some knowledge of the tech world surely knows that among operating systems, the most popular ones are -
  • For computers: Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • For mobiles: Android, and iOS.

And, some of the popular browsers are Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Microsoft Edge, etc. There are some more browsers that some specific sets of users use for different purposes. However, based on the statistics involving the usage data of the popular operating systems, devices, and browsers, you can easily pick your target market.

  • Focus On The Analysis: Well, this is somewhat of a supporting part of the previous point. Besides the third-party surveys and the statistical analysis done by your clients, business analysis teams, and marketing teams, you must also make complete use of website analyzing tools like Google Analytics or Kissmetrics to analyze your website’s/web app’s traffic stats and break them down by every device-browser-OS combination. This will help you to -
  • Find out the most used browser-OS combination for using your product. Those combinations are most likely to be the ones that your users use and the ones that render your app better.
  • Get to know about the devices mostly used for viewing your website. You can then focus more on improving the user experience of your product for those devices.

Putting a good amount of effort into following these points will effectively acknowledge you about the browser-OS-device combinations that are commonly used by your end-users. You can then plan on how you should move on with performing cross-browser testing on your products for the shortlisted browsers and what steps you can take to improve your product’s quality for your target group of users. A widely-used rule of thumb is to prioritize testing your product for any browser-OS combination that individually gets a 5% share of the traffic.

We also consider that we do have some suggestions for you so that you can make the most out of the information that you retrieved about your website’s traffic and the resources you can easily use. So, take a look at them -

  • Browserstack has an amazing Test on The Right Devices report that is built by analyzing browser-OS and device usage data in different markets and taking all of them into consideration. Hence, we suggest you combine your stats with that report to experience immense ease in building your cross-browser testing strategy.
  • Use an advanced test automation tool like PreFlight to set checkpoints on your web pages and find out if they perform properly on different browsers. The awesome cross-browser testing capabilities of those tools can significantly help you with that.

Also, remember that deciding which browsers you need to test your application for is mostly based on the surveys conducted by Business Analysis and Marketing teams. So, provide them with the necessary tools & other resources, and pave the way for their effective reports to help the QA/Product teams to centralize their efforts towards the simplest and most effective ways to improve the product.

How Is Cross Browser Testing Performed?

Now, as you have covered all the pre-action stages for your cross browser testing, you can proceed with the actual steps required to perform the tests. Hence, we are here with the complete information about the step-by-step approach to proceed further.

Decide The Baseline

Before you start any test, you must have a complete idea about what you are going to test. Similarly, in cross browser testing, you must know the normal appearance and performance of the website as well as each one of its components. For that, before going to perform cross browser tests, you need to run design and functionality tests on your website using your primary browser, carefully observe how all the components are looking & behaving, and decide the baseline for the cross browser tests.

Build The Test Strategy and Select The Browsers To Test On

As we discussed in the previous section, selecting the browsers, or better to say browser-OS combinations is extremely important to lock on your target market and to avoid wasting your resources on testing on unpopular browsers. In addition to selecting the browsers based on the traffic stats of your website, you have to build your cross browser test strategy by considering the baseline you have just figured out.

Execute The Tests

This is the phase where you actually execute the test cases according to your plans and strategies set up in the previous phases. Now, the execution of the test cases can be done in two ways i.e. manual or automated.

As the name suggests, manual cross browser testing means the QA engineers/testers need to perform every step in the testing process by themselves. In manual testing, the testers have to complete the following tasks manually -

  • Take their part in identifying the target browsers that they need to test on.
  • Build the test cases.
  • Re-run the test cases on every selected browser by themselves.
  • Carefully observe the components’ behavior on different browsers and detect the bugs.
  • Report the bugs to the development team.

Each one of these steps can take significant time to complete and eventually, it may take up to several hours to even weeks to finish testing an application manually on different browsers. Also, performing so many minute steps manually makes the tests extremely prone to human errors. Hence, manual testing causes immense wastage of time, resources & effort, and after all those, they may even have numerous errors making the entire process tremendously inefficient. However, unpredictable yet highly crucial UX flaws often require manual testers to detect the pain point. For example, when a correctly-coded form fails to hold and save the input data after every reload, it should be analyzed by a manual tester.

On the other hand, automating cross browser tests enable you to get rid of the immense hassle and achieve greater efficiency. Though everything about cross browser testing automation will be discussed in the article “How To Automate Cross Browser Testing?”, for your convenience, we are jotting down the key points here.

  • Using efficient test automation tools like Selenium, QA engineers write the test cases once and those are run as many times as required automatically.
  • The test cases are executed on different browsers at the same time seamlessly while precise bug detection and reporting are done by the automation tool.
  • Faster test execution and faster bug detection enable the developers to move on quicker towards executing their debugging and quality improvement strategies.
  • Along with such speed in test execution and bug detection, you can stay relaxed as the chances of errors are very little to almost none.

Hence, you can clearly see that automating cross browser tests is a win-win move in every way. And, on top of that, when you can achieve that without getting into coding, the overall ease and efficiency shoot up. That’s why today the world is adapting codeless test automation tools like PreFlight to create and execute numerous forms of tests within seconds and to get rid of the coding barrier to enable everyone from different teams (e.g. Marketing, Sales, etc.) to take an active part in the software testing life cycle.

Set Up Proper Infrastructure

All the actions are possible only when you have the proper infrastructure to execute your plans. In the case of cross browser testing, you are going to check your products’ compatibility with different browsers-OS-devices so, it is evident that you need to set up a proper environment for testing your application in different browsers-OS-device combinations. Now, you can do that in the following three ways -

  • You can use simulators/emulators/virtual machines to get access to different test environments. This is a comparatively less expensive solution but neither it is easily scalable nor the results on virtual mobile platforms (i.e. Android and iOS) are reliable.
  • If you have enough resources, you can consider arranging real devices to set up the test environments. For that, you need to set up a device lab to maintain the integrity of the real devices. Hence, it is evident that this solution will turn out to be quite expensive.
  • A modern as well as probably the most efficient approach is to use a cloud-based testing infrastructure. Here you get the opportunity to run your tests on a remote lab of secure devices and browsers and that too at a fraction of the cost of setting up your own device lab. Hence, you can get an amazing testing experience at a comparatively much lower cost.

Following these steps will bring you to the completion of your cross browser tests. Then the test results can be shared through professional collaboration tools like Jira, Github, Trello, etc. This phenomenon of agile methodologies enables the members of cross-functional teams to work collaboratively on everything.

What Is The Perfect Time To Execute Cross Browser Testing?

Performing cross browser tests at the correct time can play a significant role in receiving the best results. Depending on the workflow, those suitable timings are -

  • During The Development Phase: In a stable continuous integration environment, new code changes are pushed in very short intervals. Hence, in such a situation, developers need to test the new features for their cross browser compatibility before making them live.
  • During The Staging/Pre-release Phase: Before releasing any update, this is a common practice done by QA teams to make sure that the latest versions of the products do not have any browser incompatibility issues.

Conclusion

This article provides you with a detailed guide on how you can proceed with checking your products with cross browser tests that make sure that the products perform normally across every popular browser-OS-device combination. Here, you can get in-depth information about -

  • The roles of Business Analysis, Marketing, Design, QA, and Development teams at different phases of the testing process.
  • The dependencies and considerations for selecting the browsers to perform the tests on.
  • Necessary observations and comparisons should be made to decide the baseline for the tests.
  • The test strategy should be built to get the best results.
  • The tests should be executed in the most efficient way.
  • The infrastructure for the tests should be set for maximum convenience.
  • The tests should be executed at a suitable time to experience maximum ease and performance.

However, we have already mentioned how you can get rid of these hassles by selecting PreFlight as your all-in-one testing solution. This simple yet extremely effective browser extension enables you to perform multiple forms of important tests within seconds. Hence, you must also experience using the best alternative of Selenium for FREE by booking a demo.

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