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    Cross Browser Compatibility: All You Need To Know

    Cross Browser Compatibility

    Discover clever hacks and best practices to ensure your website is easily accessible across different browsers. From automated tools to manual testing tricks, this guide covers everything you need to know about cross browser compatibility and testing.

    When target users can’t access your website on the devices they’re trying to access it with, they’re likely to bounce off. This can lead to higher bounce rates which is very likely to affect your bottom line.

    There are several reasons for high bounce rates but one of the most notable ones is cross-browser compatibility issues which may lead to slow-to-load website pages. According to Think with Google, the likelihood of a visitor bouncing off your webpage shoots by 32% when the page load time extends from 1 second to 3 seconds.

    This isn’t something you wish to go through as high bounce rates cannot only lead to lower search engine rankings but also a loss of potential customers. On this page, we will explain what cross-browser compatibility is. We will also explain reasons for cross-browser compatibility issues and techniques for cross-browser compatibility testing among other basics.

    What is Cross Browser Compatibility?

    Cross-browser compatibility refers to the ability of a website or application to function properly across different web browsers. So, cross-browser compatibility ensures that your website can function seamlessly across various web browsers from Chrome to Safari, Firefox, and Edge.

    Web developers and designers strive to ensure that their creations display and behave uniformly across various browsers, regardless of the differences in rendering engines, layout engines, and supported web technologies. Achieving cross-browser compatibility involves writing code that adheres to web standards, using CSS and JavaScript techniques that are supported universally, and testing the website or application thoroughly on different browsers and devices.

    Failing to achieve cross-browser compatibility can result in visual discrepancies, layout issues, functionality errors, and performance problems, which can lead to a poor user experience and hinder the success of the website or application. Therefore, ensuring cross-browser compatibility is essential for reaching a broad audience and providing a seamless user experience across different platforms and devices.

    When is the ideal time to perform cross-browser testing?

    Many people also frequently ask; when is the ideal time to perform cross-browser testing? The simple answer is;

    The ideal time to do cross-browser testing is at two key stages; during development and in the staging/pre-release phase. During development, cross-browser compatibility testing is done in Continuous Integration pipelines to ensure new features are cross-browser compatible before going live. In staging, the QA teams test every Release Candidate to catch any compatibility issues in the latest website version.

    What strategies can you use to check cross-browser compatibility?

    Also, when it comes to cross-browser compatibility testing, there are two approaches that could be used;

    1. Manual cross-browser compatibility testing
    2. Automated cross-browser compatibility testing

    In manual cross-browser testing just as it sounds, the QA team checks a website’s functionality on different web browsers manually. It involves the testers installing various browsers and operating systems on desktops and mobile devices and then executing test cases in each environment.

    Manual cross-browser compatibility testing is mostly preferred for small projects. However, it is time-consuming and exhausting for testers due to the need for repeated manual interactions. Because of this, it isn’t easy to achieve nearly 100% precision in testing.

    Automated cross-browser compatibility testing is the exact opposite of manual cross-browser compatibility testing. The most significant advantage is that it ensures your website functions seamlessly across various browsers and devices.

    For automated cross-browser compatibility testing, you will want to use testing tools, like Selenium or BrowserStack. Using these tools can help you save time and effort by accessing thousands of real test environments with different resolutions and configurations.

    These tools also support visual, functional, and regression testing, with the ability to run test cases in parallel for faster results. What’s more, integration with CI/CD pipelines is simple and allows for detailed test reports with screenshots, logs, and even video recordings for reference.

    Why is it Important to Ensure Browser Compatibility Before Uploading a Website?

    Cross-browser compatibility testing is important because it allows you to catch inconsistencies in rendering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to ensure that your website functions just as desired across different browsers. Catching and fixing the inconsistencies can help you enhance user experience and potentially increase conversion rates. Here are a few other reasons to ensure cross-browser compatibility:

    • Enhanced Market Reach: Market reach is one of the key motivations for ensuring cross-browser compatibility. Since different users prefer different browsers, ignoring compatibility testing could mean that you alienate a significant portion of your audience.
    • Easier Support and Maintenance: Beyond SEO and market reach, cross-browser compatibility also makes support and maintenance easier. If your website works smoothly across different browsers, you will have fewer compatibility-related issues which mean fewer updates and patches needed.
    • Maintaining Credibility: Maintaining credibility in web development is closely tied to ensuring cross-browser compatibility. When your website performs well across different browsers, it reinforces users’ trust in the reliability and professionalism of the site. Also, providing a seamless experience for all users enhances your brand reputation.

    What Leads to Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues?

    Fixing cross-browser compatibility issues isn’t easy. To be able to fix them effectively, you will want to ensure that you diagnose the cause accurately hence the question; what leads to cross-browser compatibility issues?

    Now, in the vast majority of cases, the key reason for cross-browser compatibility is the varied interpretations of Open Web Standards by browser vendors because each browser renders HTML, CSS, and JavaScript uniquely.

    The other issues that may lead to cross-browser compatibility issues include; different rendering engines, features, and network conditions. So, thorough debugging can be insufficient for ensuring consistent appearance and functionality across browsers.

    Most Common Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues

    To ensure that your website functions correctly across different browsers, you will want to see to it that it is compatible with all browsers. The issues you will want to keep an eye out for include;

    • HTML/CSS Validation: As earlier explained, each browser interprets HTML and CSS differently. So code errors can lead to display issues. To fix cross browser compatibility issues due to HTML/CSS Validation issues, you can use validation tools to ensure your code is error-free.
    • Layout Compatibility: Different screen sizes and resolutions can affect how your website layout appears. Use CSS techniques like floats, Flexbox, or CSS grids to create responsive designs.
    • CSS Resets: Browsers have default styles that can interfere with your layout. Use CSS reset stylesheets to remove these defaults and ensure consistency across browsers.
    • Issues with Style Sheets: Managing large style sheets can be challenging. Keep stylesheets separate for each browser and use conditional comments to call them appropriately.
    • Outdated Browser Detection: Older browsers may not support modern features. Use tools like Modernizr to detect browser features and adjust your website accordingly.
    • DOCTYPE Error: Missing the DOCTYPE declaration can cause browsers to render your website incorrectly. To fix cross browser compatibility due to DOCTYPE error, always include “!DOCTYPE html” at the beginning of your HTML code.
    • Vendor-Specific Functions: Some browsers require specific prefixes for certain CSS properties. Use vendor prefixes (-webkit-, -Moz-, etc.) to ensure compatibility.
    • Using Untrusted Libraries: Third-party libraries can cause compatibility issues if they are not well-tested. Stick to well-known, cross-browser-compatible libraries and frameworks.

    How to Plan the Browser Compatibility Testing?

    Starting with cross-browser compatibility testing may seem complex. However, it isn’t really as complicated as it may seem. To start with cross-browser compatibility testing, here are four things you will want to decide on;

    • Critical Scenarios: Prioritize essential scenarios for testing based on business criticality and user interface usage. This ensures that crucial functionalities are tested first to reduce the risk of overlooking critical issues.
    • Select Environments and Compare: Check the compatibility of the website on different browsers. If any discrepancies are found, please report to the development team for fixes.
    • Operating System: To prioritize testing efforts for specific platforms, identify the primary operating systems your users will use. These can range from Windows to Android, iOS, or macOS.
    • Device: Determine which devices your users will use to access your application to ensure that your application is tested on the devices most commonly used by your audience. Example devices include desktops, mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs, or laptops.

    Final Words

    Cross-browser compatibility testing could just be what you need to ensure that your website functions effectively across different browsers. Since it can help you catch inconsistencies responsible for cross-browser compatibility issues, it ensures that you’re best placed to enjoy a boost in your ranking in search engine results.