Efficient Cross-Browser Testing Strategies For Web Applications

Efficient Cross-Browser Testing Strategies For Web Applications

Cross-browser testing is crucial for any web application. Users access websites through various browsers, and your app must function properly on all of them. Customers who encounter issues on a particular browser will likely abandon your product for a competitor’s. Thorough cross-browser testing mitigates this risk by verifying seamless performance across significant browsers, retaining customers and revenue.

 

Today’s users have little patience for slow-loading pages or defective performance. If your website fails to load quickly or function properly, customers will leave instantly, likely never to return. Ensuring cross-browser optimization is thus imperative.

In this article, we will explore the efficient cross-browser testing strategies for web applications.

Overview of Cross-Browser Testing

Cross-browser testing tests a website or web application across different browsers, operating systems, devices, and screen sizes to ensure it renders and functions properly for all users. When publicly releasing a site or app, it will be accessed through a diverse browser and OS configurations landscape. Cross-browser testing validates compatibility across this landscape so that site visitors have a smooth, flawless experience regardless of their access platform.

 

Specifically, comprehensive cross-browser testing focuses on three key aspects:

  • Browser-OS Configurations:

Users will access your site through various browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari and on operating systems such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux. To address rendering differences across browser engines and OS platforms, you must test these popular combinations.

  • Devices and Screen Sizes:

With mobile usage continuing to grow, your site needs to adapt and function appropriately on desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This requires evaluating responsive web design and functionality across various viewport sizes.

  • Assistive Technologies:

An inclusive site or application is compatible with tools used by visually impaired and disabled users to access the web. Cross-browser testing should assess if your website can integrate with screen readers, magnifiers, captions, and other assistive technologies.

 

Testing thoroughly across this landscape will uncover browser and device-specific defects you can address before the public launch. High-quality cross-browser testing is essential for all modern websites and web apps targeting a diverse audience.

Who Performs Cross-Browser Testing

Cross-browser testing requires collaboration across teams to ensure sites work reliably for users. 

  • Software testers and QA engineers are primarily responsible for executing cross-browser tests as part of the quality assurance process before releases. They validate functionality, UI, layout, and performance across browsers.
  • Developers conduct cross-browser testing to check their code and identify needed fixes for issues that arise on specific browsers. They focus on ensuring site components render correctly across environments.
  • Designers test that their designs and styles appear correctly on target browser/device combinations during development. They verify alignments, fonts, imagery, etc.
  • Marketing and user research analysts gather data on browser popularity and usage trends to guide what browsers should be tested as priorities.
  • Specialized testing team members may focus on specific areas like security, accessibility, or localization testing across browsers.

How to Perform Cross-Browser Testing

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform cross-browser testing effectively:

 

Establish the Foundation

Before you start cross-browser testing, conduct a simple test to understand how your website and web app perform in the current scenario. This will establish a foundation to compare against when testing on additional browsers and operating systems. Analyze if any existing issues need to be addressed before expanding the test scope.

 

Prepare a Test Plan

After establishing a baseline, prepare a detailed test plan for cross-browser testing. Properly planning the test is crucial to ensure you cover all necessary facets across different browsers. First, analyze your site traffic to select the most popular browsers and operating systems your visitors use. 

 

The test plan should cover critical aspects like functionality, responsiveness, responsive web design, and accessibility testing across these critical platforms. Define specific test cases to evaluate these quality attributes on each targeted browser-OS configuration.

 

Choose a Testing Method

Next, determine the best testing method to execute the test plan. The two main options are manual testing and test automation. Manual testing allows you to control the process fully but can be time-intensive for comprehensive coverage. 

Automation testing is best suited when the same test steps can be replicated through scripting. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each method for your specific testing needs.

 

Set Up Testing Infrastructure

Finally, set up the proper infrastructure to facilitate cross-browser testing. You need access to various configurations to test across different operating systems and devices. Setting up virtual machines and emulators/simulators is one approach for building this infrastructure. 

 

However, maintaining this landscape long-term requires significant effort. AI-powered test orchestration and execution platforms like LambdaTest offer a more practical solution. It allows users to perform automation testing across 3000+ real browser and OS environments through the cloud. LambdaTest is an example platform that enables fast cross-browser test execution at minimal cost.

Strategies for Effective Cross-Browser Testing

An efficient cross-browser testing process requires optimizing test coverage while minimizing execution overhead. Key strategies include:

 

  1. Identify Target Browsers and Devices:

The first key strategy is determining which browsers and devices to focus your testing efforts. Analyze your site analytics and user demographics to identify priority browsers. While newer versions of popular browsers should be included, don’t ignore older browser installations still in significant use by subsets of target users. Define a test matrix matching high-priority real devices to validate against.

 

  1. Adopt Mobile-First Testing: 

Validate mobile experience as the priority rather than an afterthought, given that usage on smartphones and tablets is growing.

Testing responsive design across viewports remains challenging. What displays correctly on a widescreen monitor may have layout or readability issues on a small mobile screen under specific browser engines.

 

  1. Enable Scalability via Automation:

Manual testing alone is unsustainable when validating across dozens of browser and device combinations due to inconsistencies in the human approach.

 

Automated testing improves the reliability of test runs, and parallel execution vastly increases speed. Selenium Grid with integrated device lab access allows running large batches of compatible test cases simultaneously across browsers via the cloud. The optimal approach combines smart test prioritization with extensive automated validation to accelerate achieving cross-browser consistency.

 

  1. Utilize Multiple Testing Methods:

Employ a combination of manual and automated testing methods for optimum coverage. Manual testing provides subjective user insight across several devices, while test automation significantly expands the number of browser/OS configurations validated. Configure automated test suites for parallel execution across devices via cloud labs. Integrate testing into CI/CD pipelines to shift compatibility testing left.

 

  1. Apply Browser-Specific Fixes:

Code with web standards top of mind first. Then, apply specific CSS prefixes, JavaScript workarounds, and graceful degradation fallbacks to account for browser quirks. Encapsulate hacks through feature detection and separate stylesheets/scripts targeting particular browsers. Thoroughly document applied fixes in code.

 

  1. Simulate Real-World Conditions:

Don’t just test assuming optimal conditions. Validate performance under connectivity constraints that users may experience. Profile site loading behavior on slow 3G networks with high latency. Confirm responsive behavior on different orientations and viewports. Leverage browser tools to diagnose issues.

 

  1. Consider Accessibility Requirements:

Review accessibility using evaluation tools to ensure compliance with disability legislation and support disabled users. Verify site remains navigable via screen readers and keyboard only. 

 

Cross-browser testing demands continuously updating your test matrix based on user analytics while combining automated checks at scale with ongoing manual spot-testing of vital journeys. Apply a layered development approach accounting for browser variability from the start.

 

  1. Make Use of Automation and Parallel Testing

Automating tests with Selenium improves execution time. Running automated test batches in parallel across browsers further optimizes efficiency. Integrate with the CI/CD pipeline for early feedback.

 

  1. Leverage Cloud Testing Platforms

Cloud labs eliminate the cost and effort of maintaining a physical device infrastructure. They facilitate on-demand access to thousands of real mobile and desktop configurations for cross-browser test distribution. Prioritize flexible, highly scalable solutions.

To increase test resilience, incorporate AI-powered capabilities and AI test assistance features like auto-healing locators.

A streamlined automation approach leveraging parallel execution, lab access, and AI acceleration drives velocity and consistency in cross-browser testing.

How To Select Browsers For Testing?

With the large number of browsers and devices available, optimizing testing efforts based on your target audience and usage is essential. Here are the key considerations when selecting browsers for cross-browser testing:

 

  • Popularity – Focus on widely used browsers on relevant platforms like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE/Edge determined through analytics tools. Prioritize testing on high-traffic browsers.
  • Your Audience – Analyze your site analytics through Google Analytics to identify which browsers, operating systems, and devices your visitors use. Choose browsers aligned to your actual user base.
  • Market Research – Leverage external market data on browser adoption trends to complement internal analytics. Identify popular new browsers gaining share that will need testing.
  • Legacy Support – Don’t ignore older browsers still in meaningful use today, even with a small share. Supporting legacy users improves inclusiveness.

What are the Challenges in Cross-Browser Testing?

Ensuring cross-browser testing across all the browsers for your website and web apps can pose significant challenges. Here are some of the top challenges faced by software testers in cross-browser testing:

  • Too Many Browser and OS Combinations

With numerous browsers and exponentially more OS/browser configurations, testing comprehensively is extremely difficult. Building an internal device lab with sufficient coverage is an impractical investment for most teams. Updating the lab with the latest browser and OS versions poses additional maintenance burdens. The scale of platforms makes testing them all a perpetual challenge.

  • In-House Device Lab Setup and Management

For organizations that invest in internal device labs, setting up and managing the infrastructure brings its own headaches. Configuring physical devices or virtual machines, maintaining inventory, and updating systems demand extensive manual effort and expense. These labs also hit scalability ceilings as browser coverage needs grow over time.

  • Frequent Browser Version Updates

Major browsers push updates frequently, sometimes every six weeks. While enhancements improve the user experience, new browser versions inherently risk introducing defects. This forces testing teams into constant cycles of regression testing to confirm latest releases still work with their web apps. Keeping pace with an ever-moving target extends and complicates testing.

  • Testing Visual Layout Across Resolutions

With varied screen sizes and resolutions across devices, websites don’t always render perfectly on different platforms. Testing manually for these visual defects, like broken layouts or elements, is time-intensive. Evaluating cross-device representation and responsive design multiplying expands the browser testing workload.

Conclusion

Cross-browser testing is an essential yet complicated facet of web development, necessitating evaluation across a diverse browser, operating system, and device configurations. Attempting to test extensively on multiple platforms poses immense challenges for teams with limited resources and tight schedules. However, implementing the right strategies can streamline and simplify the process substantially.

 

The key is approaching cross-browser testing as an ongoing initiative rather than a one-time hassle. Start by auditing your site metrics to identify and prioritize the browsers, operating systems, and devices most visitors use. Craft test plans targeting the critical combinations and experiences while monitoring analytics to update priorities over time.

 

For execution, leverage cloud-based cross-browser testing tools to shift testing to the cloud rather than building in-house device labs. These services give on-demand access to vast and natural browser environments, avoiding resource overhead. LambdaTest is an example offering that enables teams to test across 3000+ browser and OS configurations through their secure online platform.

 

With the right solutions and mindset focused on user experience, cross-browser testing can move from a burden to a strategic advantage.

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