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Why Cross-Browser Testing is the Most Important (and skipped) Step in Building a Website

If you’re in the process of managing your own website, you’ve probably noticed the term “Responsive Website” being tossed around lately.

Basically, responsive web design ensures that your website is rendering properly across every available device and platform. This is necessary for user experience, conversion of sales on e-commerce sites, and will even impact your SEO.

If you’re building your own website using a template, there is a high likelihood that the necessary code to make your website responsive has been written. But how can you be sure that poor rendering isn’t affecting your customers?

This is why web-developers use a process called cross browser testing.

What is cross browser testing?

Cross browser testing is a form os specialized testing that verifies your website looks great and functions properly across various platforms. This includes mobile screens, tablets, and all popular browsers.

Why is this important?

Everyone that accesses the Internet has a preferred browser. I personally use Firefox, but almost everyone else in this office uses Chrome. So imagine, you build a website and it looks amazing in Firefox. Then you find out that 6/10 people can’t view your website properly because they use Chrome.

This will ultimately lead to an increase in your bounce rates as people cannot utilize your site, a drop in conversion rates if the errors affect your online store, and Google will penalize you, dropping your search engine ranking.

How do you avoid this?

Well, you could do the testing manually across all the browsers on your computer. But, this doesn’t take into account the differences in operating systems. Do you have all of the popular phones that are on the market right now at your disposal? You could easily spend thousands of dollars trying to do your own cross browser testing.

Luckily for you there are online tools that you can use to test your website on these different platforms using remote software (we use CrossBrowserTesting). At this point, you’ll be able to see how your website renders across almost every different type of operating system, device, or browser variable imaginable.

What’s next?

So what do you do if you find an issue? What generally causes a rendering issue in a specific browser or device is the CSS style that has been written for the website. These styles render differently across all browsers and their subsequent versions. This can vary drastically if a browser is no longer being supported or hasn’t been updated recently. Generally, Internet Explorer is the most affected by newer CSS elements.

To resolve this issue, developers write new code by targeting specific versions of browsers. If your navigation isn’t appearing properly on Internet Explorer, a web developer will write CSS that will override an unsupported code, restoring functionality to the website. There are cases where this isn’t possible, so the main goal becomes trying to make the functionality work as efficiently as possible with the limitations of the browser.

Of course, all of these things take a certain level of programming knowledge to fix as fussing around style sheets on your website can have irreversible consequences.

It’s important to note that cross-browser testing doesn’t ensure that your website will be perfect forever. Browser, operating systems, and device capabilities are constantly evolving. You should perform this testing every 3-4 months to make sure that your customers are seeing the best possible version of your website.

Blueprint Agencies runs each website that we develop through rigorous cross-browser testing so that we can anticipate any of these issues before launching a website. Need us to help you with your website? Feel free to email us and we can give you the rundown on how you can optimize your business website.