February 17, 2021

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

Cross browser testing ensures that a website is presented beautifully and syntactically to every user irrespective of the browser they are using. But nowadays testers try to skip a few browsers that are less admired by the users from their testing list. Why do they do that?

Technology is growing rapidly and this is why every business is moving online. Still, some owners and developers sideline some of the major browsers while performing the testing. We are here referring to the people who still use the browsers that are other than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. But before analyzing and comparing other browsers in our list, let us try to understand the concept of cross-browser testing and why it is even performed.

What do you mean by cross-browser compatibility testing?

Cross-browser testing is a type of non-functional testing that makes sure that a website functions and visual appearance are well structured on every browser, operating system, and resolution. It is performed for both PC web apps and mobile web applications. 

Sometimes a certain website does not function accurately on a browser but as soon as we switch to another browser, it works perfectly fine. These circumstances occur because testers haven’t performed the cross-browser compatibility testing on those websites with a wide range of browsers. The reason for such inconsistency is the browser engine on which a browser works and the operating system fueling the browser. Since the working and the way, they render a website is different, sometimes a few elements misalign and show these issues explicitly.

Why do we even need to perform cross-browser compatibility testing?

The simple reason to the importance of cross-browser compatibility testing would be – “To make our website render, function, and work correctly on all types of browsers”, but going in the core, the answer to this lies in the designing and structure of the browsers.

All the browsers are designed and built differently. There are three main reasons behinds this:

  1. The layout engine or rendering engines (as mentioned in the previous section).
  2. Javascript engine.
  3. Support.

Every browser has its own rendering engine. For example, Chrome had a layout engine called ‘Webkit’. Now they are using ‘Blink’. The layout of the page is typically styled by CSS and the rendering engine takes care about understanding each element and putting it up on the webpage according to its code.

Javascript engine executes the javascript code. Browser vendors usually develop them and every browser has its own javascript engine. Like V8 is the javascript engine for Chrome, Apple has Nitro for its safari browser and Firefox has SpiderMonkey.

The third reason that we have mentioned is ‘Support’. It refers to all the scheduled updates that include bug fixes, security updates, and adding new HTML, CSS, javascript, or any other functionality to the browser. This reason is mainly the culprit while dealing with different browser versions rather than different browsers or OS.

All these factors make one browser different from the other. Allow me to illustrate it with a non-technical example. If we look at a class of 20 students, the physical appearance of all the students in the class is similar but their level of understanding, character, behaviour all vary from each other. Similarly, all the browsers appear to be the same but their character and behaviour are different. This is why we ought to perform cross-browser testing on all browsers.

Go beyond Chrome and Firefox for cross-browser compatibility testing

We all know that there are several browsers in the market that are being used. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, safari, opera mini, Microsoft edge, and the list is endless. Then why are we only focused on chrome and firefox. Take a look at the below-given image.

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

The above image is the global market share of web browsers versions as of September 2020. The graph clearly depicts that there is a fair amount of audience that uses browsers other than Chrome and Firefox. Apple’s browser Safari has around 11.38% of the global audience. Although internet explorer has its feet in the grave, yet 0.93% of people still use IE 11.  If we ignore these stats and just stick on these two browsers then we are directly ignoring a huge number of people that rely on browsers other than chrome and firefox. I am sure the business vendors would not like to roll their eyes at such a vast audience.

What will be missed?

So far we have understood that Chrome and Firefox are the top browsers in the market. The question here is- does this mean we should not consider other browsers like safari, edge, opera mini into account? Are they not relevant for cross-browser compatibility testing?

The answer is – ignoring these browsers makes us lose a lot from the pool that as a business or website owner, we should not ignore.

  • AUDIENCE

Earlier we have seen the worldwide market share of web browsers and inferred that not considering the other browsers for cross-browser testing may cost the vendors. 

The other face of the coin is there are certain websites that are developed in a region and are operated by the people of that region only like websites with country domain names. Can we ignore the cross-browser testing of edge, safari, or internet explorer on such websites?

To find out the answer to this question we need to analyze the browser market share divided by region. Let us take a look.

1.Browser Market Share in Canada – December 2020

The below image shows that safari is the second most popular browser in Canada, Chrome is the first (as usual) and the edge is also getting a good response from the people of Canada. Samsung Internet is also in the race with around 3.56%. To my surprise, our old lost hero IE is also being used by around 1.4% of people. 

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

2.Browser Market Share in India – December 2020

Chrome is again at the top followed by UC Browser the browser developed by internet mobile company UCweb. Opera, Safari, Samsung internet surpasses firefox. Although the percentage of the users sing the Samsung internet is just 1.72% but in a country like India where the population is around 136.64 crores (According to the World Bank and the United States Census Bureau, as of 2019) this number is a considerable one. Yes, it’s hard to digest the fact that Microsoft developed Edge is not being seen among the top 6 browsers here.

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

3.Browser Market Share in Africa – December 2020

Chrome remains at the top in Africa as well. Safari and Opera are fighting hard for the next two spots. Samsung internet got around 4.64% of the total population and firefox is sitting at spot number 5. Edge is also trying hard to be in the competition.

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

4.Browser Market Share in United States of America – December 2020

Apple is a multinational technology company headquarters in California, America. Apple has a good presence with a lot of customers in the country. This is why we can see that Safari is a tough competitor for Chrome in America. Edge is also getting a good response in this region. 

How to move beyond Chrome and Firefox for Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing

5.Browser Market Share in China – December 2020

China is a country that believes in the phenomena of developing and using its own products. This is why China has its domestic browsers such as UC Browser, QQ browser & 360 safes. Internet users in China cannot use google chrome without a VPN, yet chrome is holding the crown. From the image, you can see that domestic browsers rule the market in China.

Winding up this point, I could add that even though Chrome is ruling everywhere but other browsers do have a significant number of users that cannot be ignored.

  • COMPANIES

There are some government and private firms that allow their employees and workers to work on a few specific browsers only. For instance, Internet Explorer is at the urge to dismiss yet from the above stats we can conclude that there are still plenty of loyal followers of IE. A line of business tools was designed on IE, which is still being used. There could be such endless examples.

Not testing Safari, Edge, or other such browsers could be fatal for such companies.

How to decide your browser list?

Chrome and Firefox are the top-ranked browsers. We have seen that these browsers are popular in almost every part of the globe. Along with that, we have also analyzed that moving beyond chrome and firefox is very essential for the website. 

By stating that, we cannot ignore that it is impossible to test all the browsers and their versions. We want a relevant list of browsers to test websites. By following the right strategy to choose the browsers we can increase the revenue of the site also. You need to keep in mind the following points.

  • Analytical Engine 

Analytical Engines such as Google Analytics and Mixpanel provide you with online user data. They show you the information of users and from where they are coming. With the records shown by these engines, we can easily find out the browser or the browser version from where the heavy traffic is approaching.

  • Browsers (New and Old)

The next point that you need to ponder is the confinement of the browsers. There are certain browsers (or versions) that are new in the market and a few belongs here for the long run. You need to check out which browser version is being used by the users as we cannot merely deny a browser version from the list just for the fact that it is old in the market or just launched. Statcounter, Statista, W3Schools are some resources that could be helpful to you in choosing the right browser through the user’s preference.

  • Region Specific

The popularity of browsers varies from area to area. As we have already seen in the above images that UCBrowser is a big hit in China whereas its existence doesn’t even matter in The United States of America. So while selecting the browser, we would also need to consider “region” as keeping ‘UCBrowser’ in the priority list in America would not be a smart move. Keep in mind the target region from your website here.

  • Problematic Browsers

While testing any code, we emphasize the area that could cause problems. Similarly, for browsers, we should focus on the browsers that could slow down your website. For example, Internet Explorer, although it would not bring many users to the site, chances are it may cause problems. So, it needs to be included in the list for the reasons given in the previous section.

How to perform cross-browser compatibility testing?

Cross-browser compatibility testing can be performed either manually or using automation tools.

To perform the test manually, the tester needs to execute all the test cases manually. It is a time-consuming process and is hard on the pocket. While executing the test manually, there are high chances that bugs and errors may occur in the process.

On the other hand, if we look at automation testing, it is executed using special tools. The tool execution is speedy, pocket-friendly and because we will be using a tool here the chance of a bug or error reduces to zero. There are many cross-browsing tools available.

LambdaTest is a cloud-based cross-browsing testing tool with the help of which you can test your website on the combination of 2000+ browser-operating system and resolutions. You can perform an automation test on a reliable and secure selenium grid platform. It also provides the feature of screenshots and video recording of your test session. You can also integrate with your favourite bug tracking tool or an issue tracking tool to track bugs in the code. 

With LambdaTest users can perform live testing, functional testing, regression testing, and with its newest product LT Browser users can check the responsiveness of their websites on various mobile screen sizes. 

Conclusion

Chrome is undoubtedly the king of all the browsers followed by Firefox but other browsers also keep a high reputation in the market. Even though the percentage number is less, we cannot forget that billions of people use the internet today. Furthermore, there should always be healthy competition in the market else a monopoly is created which is always unhealthy. Talking about cross-browser compatibility testing, using tools like LambdaTest for executing the test can help a user save time and money and the outcomes can also be trusted. 

We hope this article helped you in gaining knowledge. You can write down your suggestions and comments in the below mentioned section. Keep reading! Keep testing!

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