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Do I really have to test on all those browser configurations? (Part 2)

This is part 2 of this article discussing the reasons why you should test your app or website on multiple browser configurations. Today we continue with browser functionality and the differences between devices.

How your product functions on different browsers

Ideally, the way your product functions would be the same on all browsers and operating systems. However this is often not the case, and is another scenario in testing where the end user experience needs to be taken into account.

The various components that make up a website or application such as HTML, CSS styles, Javascript and page layouts need to be tested across different browsers. The functionality of Javascript and page layouts in particular vary from browser to browser, as they express varying capabilities when implementing different features determined by your developer’s code. Although browser compatibility is becoming standardised, the continued usage of older browsers that are no longer being developed inevitably means that some features of your website will not work properly on every browser. This does not necessarily matter, as long as the core information is available to as many users as possible.

Your site or app’s functionality will affect which parts the software tester will check for bugs. If you are launching an ecommerce website, then the software driving the shopping cart and payment section is of highest priority, as it is where visitors convert into customers. Therefore you would need to perform end-to-end testing, mimicking the process a user would go through to make sure everything works as it should. The purchase information displayed to the customer needs to be accurate, their payment details secure, and the billing correct. Anything less, and you damage your reputation as well as invite potential legal ramifications.

Don’t forget devices: desktop vs. mobile vs. tablet

Before the age of mobile, desktops ruled. Now, screens sizes are fluctuating, the number of devices available to users is rising as new products enter the market, and multi-platform Internet usage is the norm. When choosing browser configurations for your test plan, consider which devices the majority of your site or application’s traffic is coming from. You can analyse these trends on Google Analytics, which tracks and stores this data for you.

In particular, look out for the rise of mobile devices. Mobile has overtaken desktop as the top traffic source for ecommerce websites in the past year, and a study by Demandware predicts that this share will rise to 60% by the end of this year. If you wish to test the performance capabilities of your ecommerce site or app, ensuring that it is optimised for browsers hosted by smartphones is absolutely vital.

We observe that testing software on physical devices produces a more accurate result than using an emulator. Emulators allow for greater convenience, but testing on devices provides a more reliable picture of real-time bugs that users may encounter. Using real devices reduces the risk of high-impact bugs slipping through, ruining a developer’s hard work and your end user’s experience. If you don’t have access to a physical test lab, we can help you.

Whilst it is impossible to find every bug, testing your website or app as though you were an end user greatly reduces the risk of impactful bugs appearing when your site or app goes live. Testing your software helps to protect your reputation as a brand.

Sources

Is your website cross browser friendly?, Testing Whiz, October 23, 2013
Strategies for carrying out – Gotta test ’em all?, Mozilla, last updated July 9, 2017 [at time of writing]
Dave Chaffrey, Mobile Marketing Statistics compilation, Smart Insights, March 1, 2017
Declan Harty, Smartphones Overtake Computers as Top E-Commerce Traffic Source, Bloomberg, July 25, 2016


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