What Is Cross-Browser Testing? Definition, Importance & Application

Cross Browser Testing

Cross-browser testing is a type of software testing used for checking if an application is compatible with multiple different browsers other than the one that it is built for. It is the technical process for ensuring that no matter what browser, operating system, or different browser version your users are using, your web app can perform at its best everywhere.

Mostly everyone has experienced such a scene where one application is looking broken or not even getting loaded in one browser and at the same time, it works perfectly fine in another browser. And, the worst part is that sometimes you get freaked out when a high-performing app crashes in a particular browser without any issues in the code, server, or any other parameters. Then you try every difficult way to find the solution without realizing the simple fact that the issue is the cross-browser incompatibility of your app.

That is where cross-browser testing comes in as your savior. It lets you know about your app’s cross-browser compatibility and provides you the opportunity to improve the same. So, let’s get to know about this highly important form of software testing in more detail.

What Is Cross-browser Testing?

Cross-browser testing is the definitional name of the form of software testing that makes you run your web app in different sets or combinations of browsers, operating systems, devices with different screen sizes, etc. These tests enable you to test both web and mobile apps with consistently good results without any compromise in the quality and with your own dependencies.

The most common and popular test grounds for this form of testing are -

  • When you need to ensure that your web app performs normally for any combination of the popular browsers (e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Microsoft Edge, etc.) and the popular operating systems (e.g. Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, etc.).
  • When you are testing an application for different sets of users with different devices (e.g. desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) having different screen sizes and other specifications.
  • When you are testing an application that is highly used by end-users. For example, an application that helps the users keep track of their monthly expenses, savings, etc. by receiving proper inputs from them about their income, fixed expenses, special expenses, investments, taxes, etc., and then by calculating everything. The users of such an app will make complete use of its front-end part that will provide them with a smooth user experience only if the application is compatible with every user irrespective of their devices, browsers, operating systems, and other parameters.
  • When you are testing an application that will be used in assistive tools and technologies (e.g. screen readers, voice learning technologies, etc.) for differently-abled persons.

Why Is Cross-browser Testing So Important?

We have been mentioning that cross-browser testing is extremely crucial and why you need it for many important reasons. But, we must brainstorm a bit about breaking down this topic and dive into its depth. Hence, let’s check out why cross-browser testing is so important.

  • Suppose someone needs to use a web app very urgently to solve an emergency purpose. You have a web app that solves this problem. He/she logs on to your application’s URL and sees some broken images, buttons, text fields, and other components but you know that your application is in perfect condition. Well, the incident might have happened this way that your application is built keeping in mind that users will use it in Safari on mac so when someone is trying to open it on Google Chrome in Windows or in any other browser-OS combination, it is not rendering properly. That is due to cross-browser incompatibility, which is a very minor yet crucial issue that can easily be solved when properly detected in time through efficient cross-browser testing.
  • However, in such a case when your users get disappointed because of your app’s breaking down, they will be most likely to lose confidence and trust in your product and you will be on the verge of losing your user base due to such a basic issue. Hence, you must focus on effectively performing cross-browser testing to save your business from destruction.
  • Previously, the whole software development process was mostly based on the waterfall model where each phase in the complete product life cycle used to take significant time. Developers used to implement code changes or updates quarterly or monthly so, eventually, it was easier for the testers to manually test them.
  • On the other hand, in modern agile methodologies, the product life cycle is more dependent on the continuous integration and continuous delivery system where developers implement code changes or updates by the hour or the day. And, being aware of how the technologies work, you must know that different browsers and operating systems react to the code changes differently. Also, the user interface and user experience show huge differences in different devices. That is why in modern agile methodologies, it is highly important to execute automated cross-browser testing to ensure that the building blocks (i.e. HTML, CSS, JavaScript), layout, connectivity, accessibility, quality, performance, and other aspects of a web app have the same level in every browser-OS-device combination.
  • The forever-running evolution of technology is not unknown to you. By the time one gets accustomed to a set of technical things, their new upgraded versions get spread in the market. You are definitely aware of such a scenario where the outdated versions of browsers or operating systems become unable to render modern HTML5 tags or process modern JavaScript codes. Hence, to make your application accessible to everyone, you must make sure that it works across different versions of browsers and operating systems.
  • Information security is a major concern. The most common scenario is that developers build an app for the popular low-risk browsers (e.g. Google Chrome, Safari, etc.) and implement the security measures accordingly. But, it is never possible that all your users will use low-risk browsers. Half of your user base will tend to use high-risk browsers like Internet Explorer and the security measures of your application will most likely be not working and can cause serious information security issues. And, it is quite common for people to get so used to their favorite browsers that they will not stop using them for the sake of using your app. They will most likely stop using your application. Hence, to retain your user base effectively, you must ensure that the security measures of your application work properly across every browser.
  • No matter how many benefits cross-browser testing provides, the most important advantage is and should always be the faster detection of cross-browser incompatibility and figuring out the ways to make your application the perfect fit for every browser-OS-device combination. Hence, you must perform your cross-browser tests through advanced test automation tools like PreFlight to ensure that you get to know about your app’s cross-browser suitability and other bugs as early as possible so that you can move on with the debugging as well as overall quality assurance measures faster.

Which Features or Functionalities Are Tested In Cross-browser Testing?

You may think that ideally, every form of test must check every component that comes under its territory. But, you must know that practically one should never try to test everything and eventually let the efficiency decrease. Hence, to wisely decide which features should be tested in cross-browser tests, different aspects like browsers, their versions, operating systems, devices, etc. are taken into consideration. So, let’s take a look at those features and the reasons behind testing them.

  • Base Functionalities: Users always interact with the base functionalities first. So, if the base functionalities of your application are broken on different browsers, your end users will get the worst impression about your product, and you will most likely keep losing your user base. Some common base functionalities that you should usually test are -
  • Dialogue boxes and menus: They might not work as planned on different browsers.
  • Form field: Ensure that they are properly accepting inputs after proper validation.
  • First-party cookies: These should make sure that the personalized features are properly served to the users according to the cookies saved by the website.
  • Touch Input: Modern mobiles and tablets work based on touch inputs only. You should make sure that your app is accepting the inputs seamlessly.
  • Design Aspects: A beautiful and efficient design of your web app depends on a lot of things like colors & style of different components, images used, fonts’ specifications, the layout of the web pages, etc. And, when a browser fails to properly render an application, the first thing that looks worse is the design of the user interface. Hence, while performing cross-browser testing, you must make sure that the design of your web app remains intact on every browser.
  • Responsiveness: At different points of our article, we have been mentioning the importance of responsiveness in a tech product. Everyone in your user base is never going to use the same type of device to use your application. And, it is a very common issue in many applications that they show up as an insanely messed up and broken design when they are used on different devices. That is why if you want to satisfy every user of your app, make sure that the app has effective and smooth responsiveness towards different devices with different screen sizes.
  • Connectivity: Most web apps interact with their databases and numerous external services to execute their tasks. And, it is often noticed that they fail to build those connections when they are being used on a different browser or different OS. Hence, testing the proper connectivity among the apps and other services also becomes a crucial part of your cross-browser test suite.
  • Security measures: Every application uses a lot of security measures including security certifications, data validations, etc. Now, different browsers have different systems for rendering JavaScript codes as well as the security measures of any application. So, you must check if the security measures of your application are working properly in different environments and not causing any information security issues.
  • Special Accessibility: You are definitely aware of the massive movements going on around the world for enabling every common service available for differently-abled persons. Similarly, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) tell that every web app should comply with the guidelines and be normally accessible for differently-abled persons. Hence, ensure that your application has the necessary features and specifications that make it accessible to everyone regardless of their physical or mental capabilities.

Conclusion

This article gives you a detailed overview of cross-browser testing. You can clearly see that it is an essential requirement for you to ensure that the application that your team has built through so much hassle is compatible with every browser-OS-device combination. So, when you are building an application, you must make sure to put a lot of focus and effort into cross-browser testing, and as a result, no one will categorize your app as something with a pathetic user experience or being absolutely unable to use it. No matter if the application is being developed by keeping Google Chrome in mind, it must act normally in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and every other browser. Also, cross-browser testing ensures that your users are not confined to one specific operating system or one specific browser, or even any particular device. The purpose of cross-browser testing is to enable everyone regardless of his/her web environment to use every web application.

However, efficient execution of cross-browser testing takes a strategic step-by-step approach to become successful. That’s why we gathered detailed information about the way to perform it and the best practices. You can find all that in our upcoming article “How To Proceed With Cross-browser Testing?” Go through it with all your attention & eagerness, and do remember to let us know about your experience & feedback.

Also, we must mention that cross-browser testing is just one of the popular forms of tests that PreFlight can easily automate without any involvement in coding. You can get to know about all its specialties in the article “10 Amazing Software Testing Benefits From PreFlight In 2022”. An amazing no-code testing experience is waiting for you at really affordable packages.

For more information, feel free to reach out to us and check out our website. Also, if you love to read about the latest technology updates, make sure to visit our blog page.