First off, what is cross-browser testing?
Cross-browser testing is the formality of testing web applications and websites in all of the common web browsers that users use today — this ensures that we deliver a consistent user experience everywhere, and not just the web browser that takes our fancy. Here are some of the things to look out for:
- Code validation: do some browsers report code errors?
- Performance: is the website slow, or even causing crashes?
- Responsive design: is the design consistently responsive?
- UI inconsistencies: are there any other design flaws?
- Other strange behaviours: anything else simply not working?
What happens if I don’t test?
Inconsistencies are actually very normal. Fact is, all web browsers behave and render websites a little differently, and some browsers might not even support the features we originally aimed to utilize; and when these inconsistencies appear, it can have a direct impact on our revenue (among other things).
Let’s take eCommerce for example. 69.89% of checkouts are abandoned, and 17% of those are attributed to website errors and crashes. Assuming that a business would accrue half a million sales annually, that’s 59,407 sales lost due to errors and crashes that could have been thwarted by cross-browser testing.
Which browsers should I test on?
Since Microsoft announced they’d be ditching their own EdgeHTML and Chakra engines in favor of the widely-adopted Blink and V8 engines, this means many of the major browsers today offer similar levels of code compatibility. While this is a step back in terms of healthy competition, it does mean that if a website works in Google Chrome, it’ll most likely work in Brave, Opera, and soon-to-be Microsoft Edge. That combined with the fact that even Microsoft has instructed us to stop using Internet Explorer, cross-browser testing is easier than it’s ever been before, with only Safari and Firefox using their own engines.
Technically, the web browsers we should be supporting today are the ones that our users and customers are using, information that’s easy enough to find using Google Analytics or some other kind of web analytics tracking software. But if you don’t have that kind of data available, here are the worldwide statistics*:
- Chrome: 61.75%
- Safari: 15.12%
- Firefox: 4.92%
- UC: 4.22%
- Opera: 3.15%
- Internet Explorer: 2.8%
- Samsung Internet: 2.74%
- Microsoft Edge: 2.15%
*As of November 2018.
Also, bear in mind that there are multiple releases of each web browser across multiple OSs. Sound scary? Not really, but it is boring as heck to be testing websites on all of them!
Luckily, there are a number of excellent cross-browser testing tools available, so today we’re going to take a look at 7 of the best ones.