What is Browser Testing and how can it help you as a website owner?
Browser Testing is simply analysing the performance of your website across a specific range of browsers and devices and recording all issues found. The range of browsers and devices tested is flexible and directly impacts the length of testing. Typically browser testing will look at how your website performs across the most popular browsers and devices. At the time of writing this would therefore include Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Safari, at least one iPhone device, at least one Android Device and a tablet.
Browser Testing is important for several reasons. A website renders differently on every browser and therefore many 'bugs' can be found, unique to each. For example a form on your website may not be working in Internet Explorer, or Firefox browser may be displaying your slider incorrectly. Similarly the width of an iPhone screen may be causing a lot of issues with the whole user experience on mobile. Frequently images may not scale properly or plugins are causing major issues. There will also typically be a lot of bugs impacting every browser and device.
The purpose of cross browser testing is to find all bugs in the front end of the website, across a specific range of browsers and devices. These bugs will fall into four main categories; functionality bugs, layout bugs, styling bugs and spelling and grammatical errors. Browser Testing will document all of these bugs in an orderly fashion, within a spreadsheet, with the intention of being handed to a web developer to fix.
Types of Bugs
The types of bugs I will find fall into four main categories:
Functionality Issues - This is simply when an element on the website doesn't function properly (doesn't work). For example it may be impossible to complete a form on your website, to complete a specific search, to register or to make a booking. These are obviously fundamental to the performance of your website and must be fixed.
Layout Issues - Layout issues are simply errors in the way your website is presented. Is the website presented and appearing how it should on all browsers and devices?
Styling Issues - Styling issues are very common when we analyse a website from browser to browser. We may see problems with a particular web element in one browser, where a website renders differently in each.
Grammatical Errors - It is important that your web copy is high quality. If user's see spelling issues or grammatical errors, their perception of your brand will likely go down. Browser Testing will pick up any such errors.
What are the phases of testing? What is covered?
1. Agreeing browsers to be tested
Testing will begin by agreeing the range of browsers and devices that are going to be covered. As mentioned above, I would recommend covering the major browsers in 2016. We could also look at your google analytics to see exactly what browsers your users are using, like this example below:
2. Creating a Spreadsheet to record bugs and progress
A spreadsheet will then be created to record all bugs that will be found when testing the website.
3. Testing the website across the specified browsers and devices
The website is then tested rigorously on the agreed browsers and devices. Testing will search for all types of bugs, including functionality, layout, styling and spelling errors.
4. Recording all bugs in the spreadsheet.
Bugs are recorded in the spreadsheet as they are found. It is imperative that they are recorded with clear instructions to repeat them. Therefore I always include a full description, a URL, information of whether it is unique to the browser and a screenshot with annotations.