Expert Insights: Q&A with Industry Leaders on Cross Browser Testing Best Practices

Cross-browser testing stands as a fundamental aspect of contemporary web development. Given the multitude of browsers presenting distinct quirks and features, developers must prioritize ensuring that their websites or applications operate seamlessly across all platforms. 

This principle revolves around crafting flexible code that delivers uniform functionality and appearance, irrespective of the browser users use to access the website.

Who Conducts Cross-Browser Testing?

Anyone involved in designing or developing for the Open Web can engage in cross-browser testing.

Utilizing interactive cross browser testing tools doesn’t require coding expertise, making them accessible to marketers and web designers. They can leverage these tools to assess cross-browser rendering and responsiveness for landing pages and new designs.

QA teams play a vital role by employing these tools to test diverse scenarios on different browsers, ensuring the build meets browser compatibility standards. UI teams utilize these tools to evaluate the performance of the website’s front end across various devices and orientations.

The decision-making process regarding the combination of platforms, browsers (and their versions), operating systems, and devices for cross-browser testing typically involves stakeholders such as clients, business analysts, and marketing specialists. Occasionally, developers and testers may also contribute to this decision.

Traditionally, the testing responsibilities are distributed as follows:

Development Team: The team coding the web application may conduct initial testing, focusing on aspects like design and UI features such as images, fonts, and alignment. They make swift adjustments based on observations across different browsers.

Quality Assurance (QA) Team: The QA team takes a more prominent role in cross-browser testing activities. They execute identical test cases on various platforms and browser combinations to verify the functionality. Assessing the application’s compatibility across different browsers is a crucial aspect of their responsibilities. Any discrepancies identified prompt the QA team to raise defects, and the development team addresses these issues.

In the traditional approach, these two teams collaborate to ensure that the website meets standards in terms of functionality, responsiveness, design, and accessibility.

Why is Cross-Browser Testing Essential?

Cross-browser testing serves several purposes:

  • Identify instances of broken functionality that render the site completely unusable.
  • Recognize usability issues arising from incompatible browsers or versions.
  • Enhance the web app or site’s rendering to ensure a positive user experience.

The primary objectives of cross-browser testing involve assessing the consistency of a web page’s appearance across different browsers and verifying that the tested application functions as intended across all targeted browsers.

While some applications may be optimized for a specific browser due to technological preferences (e.g., Google applications for Chrome), cross-browser testing remains critical to ensuring that your application, if not fully optimized, is functional and presentable across multiple browsers.

Cloud-Based Cross Browser Testing

Cloud testing leverages the computing capabilities of third-party service providers to test software applications. This approach spans cloud resource testing, including architecture and cloud-native software-as-a-service offerings, incorporating cloud technologies into quality assurance plans. Cloud-based testing boasts advantages such as cost-effectiveness, high scalability, and easy accessibility. It enables testing across diverse scenarios and multiple machines without extensive infrastructure development.

The surge in cloud testing’s popularity has led to the emergence of numerous cloud-based testing tools. These tools can access various browsers and devices, facilitating testing across diverse systems.

Organizations stand to gain several benefits from cloud testing, including enhanced availability, optimal performance, and data security while minimizing the downtime of underlying infrastructure or platforms. Various products and platforms, such as LambdaTest, offer cloud-based cross-browser testing with an online browser farm featuring 3000+ browsers and operating system combinations. 

LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform. Offering live interactive testing and seamless integration with CI/CD tools, it assures users that parallel testing is a feature readily accessible. Moreover, LambdaTest boasts a scalable infrastructure and detailed test logs, facilitating swift issue resolution and addressing scalability concerns.

Cross-browser testing best practices

Mastering cross-browser testing demands a strategic approach in the ever-evolving digital landscape. As challenges persist in ensuring a consistent user experience, businesses can navigate and preempt potential issues by adhering to best practices. Here, we delve into crucial best practices that can enhance the cross-browser testing process.

  • Selecting the Optimal Devices and Browsers

Choosing the right combination of browsers and devices for cross-browser testing is a significant milestone in the ongoing development. Leveraging your product’s usage data to identify preferred devices and browsers among your customers is a crucial initial step. 

Once you have analyzed the types of devices and browsers favored by your customers, it is essential to continually reassess the list to align with evolving trends in the target market. 

Maintaining a prioritized list of essential browsers and devices and regularly updating it to accommodate changes ensures a comprehensive testing approach. Additionally, replacing emulators with real devices is recommended for accurate results.

  • Optimal Selection of UI Test Frameworks

After establishing the foundation of selecting the right devices and updating the set of browsers and devices, the next pillar is choosing a suitable UI testing framework. A well-chosen UI testing framework simplifies the entire cross-browser testing process, facilitating the development of high-performance applications. Selecting a framework based on a thorough analysis of your product’s and team’s specific needs is advisable.

  • Utilizing Automation and Parallel Testing

For effective cross-browser testing, automating Selenium tests is essential to improving test execution time. However, incorporating parallel testing completes the cross-browser testing process, enhancing productivity. Parallel testing enables testing multiple browsers and devices simultaneously, significantly reducing the overall test execution time. 

Selenium Grid for test automation allows running test cases in several concurrent environments. Combining automation and parallel testing in a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline streamlines the testing process.

  • Choosing a Highly Scalable Testing Platform

Achieving cross-browser compatibility requires addressing dynamic market requirements, necessitating a highly scalable mobile device lab. The uncertainty surrounding combinations of browsers, versions, operating systems, and device versions emphasizes the need for scalability. A scalable device lab allows seamless addition or removal of devices based on project requirements without affecting other functionalities.

  • Flexibility and Customization

Surviving in the dynamic application industry requires a service-ready platform and flexible enough to allow customizations at any time. The application industry is directly exposed to changing user demands, and a flexible product should adapt to future customer requirements while consistently delivering quality products.

  • Utilizing AI-Powered Testing Tools

Although it may be challenging to eliminate all errors or bugs from a software application, the concentration of issues can be significantly reduced using AI-powered testing tools like LambdaTest. Efforts are being made to integrate high-end technologies like continuous integration and DevOps for quicker and more qualitative results.

AI can further accelerate the process by providing codeless solutions, reducing the time and effort required by QA teams. Additionally, AI and machine learning can decrease the flakiness of test cases, promoting automation with minimal human intervention.

  • Meeting Business Security Requirements

In today’s expansive mobile and software application industry that spans various domains, organizations operating in sectors like banking and insurance face heightened vulnerability to security breaches and online malpractices. Ensuring the adoption of a product that meets all security requirements and holds certification as a security-compliant solution becomes imperative for business operations’ seamless and successful functioning.

  • Incorporate Browser-Specific Workarounds

While the ultimate aim is to write clean and standards-compliant code, the reality is that different browsers exhibit quirks and variations in rendering web pages. Some browsers may lack support for the latest CSS properties or JavaScript features. In such instances, recognizing and integrating browser-specific workarounds or fallbacks becomes essential. 

This involves using prefixes like -webkit- for Chrome and Safari or providing alternate styling for browsers that do not support specific CSS features. It is crucial to thoroughly document these fixes within the code for clarity and maintainability.

  • Testing in Varied Network Conditions

An often overlooked aspect of cross-browser testing is considering the network conditions under which end-users will access the website or application. Users worldwide experience diverse network speeds and stability levels. Ensuring a positive user experience for all requires testing how the website behaves under different network conditions. 

Tools such as Chrome’s Network Throttling or WebPageTest can simulate various network speeds and latency, enabling the identification and optimization of elements that may have issues loading under slower network conditions.

  • Responsive Design Testing

This entails adjusting and rendering content effectively on different screen sizes, resolutions, and orientations. This ensures that website elements rearrange, resize, or hide appropriately based on the screen size.

  • Testing with Browser Developer Tools

Browser Developer Tools are invaluable assets in the realm of cross-browser testing. They offer insights into how web pages are rendered and performed in various browsers. Tools like Chrome Developer Tools, Firefox Developer Tools, or Safari Web Inspector allow developers to inspect HTML elements, tweak CSS properties on the fly, monitor network requests, analyze runtime performance, and more. 

This proves particularly useful for debugging and resolving compatibility issues, providing immediate visibility into how changes affect webpage rendering without altering the actual code.

  • Accessibility Testing

This involves making content easily perceivable and operable through screen readers, ensuring navigation using only a keyboard. Leveraging WAI-ARIA roles and properties enhances accessibility in applications. Tools like the WAVE Evaluation Tool, aXe, or the Lighthouse audit in Chrome Developer Tools can be employed for accessibility testing. 

By incorporating accessibility testing into the cross-browser testing strategy, organizations not only comply with legal standards but also ensure a broader audience can use their website or application, contributing to inclusivity.

  • Analytics-Driven Testing

Utilize website analytics to comprehend the preferences of the target audience regarding browsers and versions. This insight guides the design of testing cases, ensuring a comprehensive yet prioritized approach that maximizes efforts for the most significant user segments.

  • Mobile-First Approach

Given the expanding mobile user base, it is imperative to design and test with a focus on mobile devices. Embrace a mobile-first perspective, recognizing the constraints and capabilities of mobile platforms. Starting with a robust mobile foundation and enhancing features for larger screens proves more effective than adapting a complex desktop site for mobile use.

  • Visual Regression Testing

Integrate visual regression testing tools to identify unintended visual changes that may be overlooked in manual tests. These tools compare current visuals with reference images, ensuring consistent graphics across different platforms. The mere assurance of a website looking as intended in one browser does not guarantee the same in another; visual regression testing ensures graphic coherence.

  • Scripted Tests vs. Manual Exploration

Leverage scripted automated tests for repetitive tasks and scenarios to save time, reduce errors, and ensure repeatability. While automation offers advantages, manual testing remains indispensable for exploring real-world user interactions. This is particularly crucial for UX evaluation and the discovery of unexpected issues.

  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) in Testing

Integrate testing seamlessly into CI/CD pipelines to immediately test any code changes or additions. This ensures swift detection of potential issues and provides developers with prompt feedback on their code’s performance across browsers. The integration of testing into the deployment process facilitates quicker rectifications and enhances overall efficiency.

Conclusion

Cross-browser testing is essential to validate the performance of every web application across various browsers. The selection of an appropriate tool is pivotal for companies aiming to deliver a high-quality product, employing a strategy that combines manual and automated testing as needed. 

Efficient testing not only helps organizations reduce product delivery time but also accelerates overall progress. Additionally, it aids development and testing teams in enhancing software quality by providing detailed error reports.

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