Browser Testing: What Is It and Why Is It So Important?

Rachel Rodgers

Browser testing is the process of viewing a single website on multiple operating systems, devices, browsers and screen resolutions, to ensure it displays correctly no matter how visitors are viewing it. Browser testing is critical to the web development process — not all browsers are programmed to show website elements exactly the same. Different browsers —  and even different versions of the same browser — may display your site differently.

A huge part of the quality assurance process here at 3 Media Web is to run a comprehensive browser check on all the latest browsers on both Mac and Windows operating systems. Browser testing helps ensure a great user experience, which is what our website design and development process always focuses on. As web developers, our goal is to deliver the same user experience on a client’s website, no matter which OS, browser or device visitors use.

Here’s how we do it.

Browser Testing Tools and Techniques

We have two go-to tools when it comes to browser testing: BrowserStack and QuirkTools Screenfly. BrowserStack covers the main OS systems, devices, and latest browsers, while Quirk Tools is great for checking phones and tablets to make sure a site’s responsive design elements, such as touch menus and screen scrolling, render properly, both vertically and horizontally. In our experience, QuirkTools is better for quick testing during the development process. It’s fast, but doesn’t emulate a perfect device. BrowserStack is helpful for the final QA pass, when we want to make sure a site renders perfectly on every device. It’s a robust tool, but it’s a little slower.

And while these tools are helpful, we also pull out tablets and phones and test directly on devices ourselves. Nothing replaces the human experience. If a site isn’t thoroughly tested on all major browsers, operating systems and screen resolutions, you risk providing visitors with a bad experience, which could make them leave the site and decrease your chance of turning them into customers.

But keep in mind that as operating systems and browsers go out of date, it’s impossible to account for every possibility. We use a tool called Outdated Browser to make sure we’re using the most current version of every browser we test.

Major Website Changes Require Additional Browser Testing

Browser testing can be time-consuming, depending on how many pages there are and how they’re built. Ideally, you should start testing as early in the website development process as possible, so you can catch problems and make needed changes along the way.

And your website will need additional browser testing any time you make major structural changes, such as a footer layout change, added top navigation or menu style changes. Major changes to home page sliders, slideshows or container content also require additional browser testing. Browser testing is part of our pre-launch QA and post-launch QA processes.

Your website is an essential way you connect with customers, so it’s vital you make that connection a positive one. Browser testing will help ensure everyone who visits your website has a great user experience and leaves with a good impression.

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