Why Cross-Browser Testing is Vital to Your Mobile Strategy
As more brands are optimizing their websites for smartphones, it is equally important for these brands to execute cross-browser test campaigns to ensure a great digital experience for all users.
In 2016, mobiles surpassed desktops as the largest source of web traffic. Today, mobile traffic accounts for more than 52% of all Internet traffic worldwide.
In the United States, 57% of Internet traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. By 2021, mobile data traffic worldwide will be 7 times larger, according to Statistia.
In France, nearly 47 million people connect to the Internet using just their smartphone or compared to just over 23 million who solely surf the web on a desktop.
In Canada, 74% of people access the Internet via their smartphone.
Not surprising, the number of hours people are spending on their smartphones and tablets is also increasing. In 2017, users spent 3.3 hours per day consuming digital media on their smartphones, compared to just 1.2 hours per day in 2012.
Additionally, it is important to note that the majority of Internet users access the worldwide web through both mobiles and desktops. In France, 51% of Internet users surf the web via several devices (mobile, desktop, and /or tablet).
The ability to begin a search, e-commerce order, video, or other media on one device and continue it on another device seamlessly, for example, has made it important for brands to develop digital services or platforms that provide a high-quality user experience across all devices.
Given the fact that the millions of smartphone users can access websites via a plethora of mobile browsers (Safari, Chrome, Samsung, Firefox, Android, and many more), it is vital for brands to execute cross-browser tests.
What is a cross-browser test?
Simply, cross-browser testing or browser testing involves the validation of a website across different browsers to find bugs or anomalies.
More importantly perhaps, a cross-browser test allows brands to accomplish two very important goals: evaluate the user experience and verify functions operate properly across all relevant browsers.
Because of the fragmentation of the smartphone market, it is crucial to test websites across a number of different configurations to account for bugs that can arise from various screen sizes and dimensions, browsers, mobile operating systems, etc.
How to perform cross-browser testing?
Cross-browser testing can be executed manually or automated depending on the needs and scope of the test. Tests that are more subjective in nature should be performed manually since they can be best executed with the critical eye of a real tester.
On the other hand, test cases that need to repeated over and over again, whether across multiple configurations or just one, are well suited for automation.
Other test cases that are suited for automation:
Regression testing: testing and retesting pre-existing functions after each new iteration or software update.
Data driven tests: functions that need to be validated using large sets of data or various inputs.
Overall, there is no need to choose between automated or manual testing. Instead, it is a good practice to use both of these methods to fully cover your testing needs in the most effective and efficient manner.
Cross-browser testing is like other functional test cases should be based on user stories that clearly explain to the development and test team what a particular function will do. With clearly and well written user stories, it is easier for the test team to execute and validate the test cases.
Exploratory or Scenario-based Test Method
A cross-browser test can be executed manually via an exploratory method or scenario-based method. Choosing between these two methods should be based on the needs of the test. To validate specific functions or processes like completing an order, using a scenario-based methodology is advantageous since it ensures the test will be executed in specific order or manner.
To assess the general look and feel of the website, using the an exploratory-based methodology is beneficial since it allows the tester to navigate the site like a user randomly testing functions while also assessing several other aspects of the site including its text or wording, ergonomics, graphics or images, and more.
Choosing the right configurations
The second key to cross-browser is choosing the test configurations and browsers to validate functions or the UI of a website. Nonetheless, choosing the right configurations is relatively simple since it involves choosing the configurations that are most commonly used by your users.
A platform like Google Analytics provides valuable data that breaks down the device models, operating systems, browsers, and other key configuration information. As a result, it is easy to discover which configurations are most commonly used to access your site.
Real devices or emulators
Cross-browser tests can be executed using emulators as well as real devices. Emulators are programs that act and function similarly as a mobile browser or smartphone, for example. As a result, many organizations use emulators in the form of mobile browsers to execute cross-browser tests.
However, emulators are limited in that they do not allow testers to validate every test case, especially those that more subjective and related to a website’s UX. Emulators also come up short when it is necessary to execute test cases that rely on hardware components like Bluetooth and GPS receivers, cameras, infrared ports, and more.
Testing on real devices, on the other hand, provide testers with a platform to test every aspect of website including its functions and user experience. With a real device in hand, testers can better assess how a website adjusts to various screen sizes and resolutions as well as how responsive the site’s controls are. For example, real devices provide a better platform to assess a site’s navigation as users scroll up and down pages, zoom in and out, and move from one page to the next.
Given the fact that poor or inconsistent controls will lead to users to leave your site, it is essential to validate the user experience using real devices.
When to test?
Testing early and often is the best strategy as it allows teams to perform bug fixes as they arise. Testing at the end of the project or while the website is in production is the most costly time to test, and can make bug fixes more complicated.
Crowdtesting is an interesting QA resource for cross-browser testing for a number of reasons. First of all, a community of crowdtesters like We Are Testers is made up of thousands freelance QA specialists with the experience needed to execute cross-browser testing.
Secondly, a community of thousands of testers also possess thousands of real devices making it easier to execute a test campaign across all relevant configurations (model/OS/browser).
Thirdly, with testers located all over the world, crowdtesting allows brands to test their mobile websites in relavent markets where cellular network speeds or Internet speeds can differ affecting the overall performance and UX of the site.
To learn more about the potential of crowdtesting, do not hesitate to download our white paper below: A Short Guide on Crowdtesting.