Cross-browser tests | The complete guide

    4 Minutes Read

    Each browser follows the same Web standards. However, not every browser transmits HTML, CSS and JavaScript in the same way.

    Differences in browser interpretation force software developers to orchestrate cross-browser testing to ensure a consistent user experience regardless of the browser used.

    In this article, we will explain what cross-browser testing is, who does it, why it is important, and how to do it.


    What is multi-browser testing?

    Cross-browser testing is a type of functional testing that allows you to verify that your website works as expected when viewed via :

    Different browser-OS combinations on popular browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari and on any of the popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.

    Different devices: Smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops, etc.

    Accessibility tools: Assistive technologies such as screen readers for people who need these aids.


    Who does the cross browser testing?

    QA teams typically run test cases on multiple browsers to ensure that the release meets the baseline criteria.

    UX teams conduct cross-browser testing to discover how the website performs on different devices and orientations.


    What features are analyzed in cross-browser tests?

    The features that will be cross-browser tested are generally categorized as follows:

    Basic functionality

    Ensures that basic functionality works on most OS browser combinations. For example, you could test to make sure that :

    • The menus work as expected
    • Form fields accept entries after validating them correctly
    • The website properly handles proprietary cookies (and the features such as personalization that depend on them).
    • Touch input works as intended for mobiles or tablets


    This ensures that the appearance of the website (fonts, images and layout) matches the specifications shared by the design team.


    Ensures that the site or application is accessible to all.


    How to select the browsers to test?

    The large number of existing browsers, devices and operating systems makes it virtually impossible to create and test on every browser-OS combination.

    A more realistic goal is to focus your testing efforts on maximizing your website's reach within your target market. To do this, you will need to choose the most relevant browsers and versions:

    Based on popularity

    Select the most popular or commonly used browsers and choose the two main platforms, like Android and iOS, to maximize your reach in any target market.

    The most popular browsers include :

    • Firefox
    • Edge
    • Chrome
    • Safari

    Based on the analysis

    Review your website traffic statistics as captured by analytics tools (like Google Analytics).

    The goal is to discover:

    1. Which OS browser combinations are most commonly used by your target audience
    2. On which devices your website is usually viewed


    When is the cross browser testing done?

    Multi-browser tests are performed: 

    During development: Developers test new features to ensure they are compatible with all browsers before putting changes into production.

    Staging/Pre-Release: QA teams perform cross-browser testing for each release to ensure that no browser compatibility issues appear in the latest version of a website or application. 


    How does multi-browser testing work?

    1. Establish a base

    Before you start cross-browser testing, run all design and functionality tests on your primary browser, which is usually Chrome. This will give you a baseline.

    2. Create a test plan and choose the browsers to test on

    Create a test plan to describe exactly what you will test. 

    Then, choose the OS browser combinations to test based on popularity and analysis of your current traffic.

    3. Execution | Automated vs. manual multi-browser testing

    Manual testing requires human testers to sequentially run test scenarios, while automated testing automates human interactions.

    A single test script written by professional QAs using automation tools like Mr Suricate can run your :

    • Firefox automated tests
    • Edge Automated Testing
    • Automated tests Chrome
    • Safari automated tests

    With accurate error reporting, bugs are easier to find and fix while manual testing leaves room for human error.

    4. Infrastructure

    There are several ways to configure your multi-browser test infrastructure: 

    Emulators and simulators

    You can use virtual machines and install browsers on them for testing purposes. Although this approach is inexpensive, it has a few drawbacks:

    • It's not easily scalable.
    • Test results are not reliable on mobile platforms (Android and iOS)

    In-house device farm

    If you have the resources to procure real devices and maintain their integrity over time, you can create your own device farm.

    This is obviously the most expensive and time-consuming option.

    Farm of external devices

    Browsers of the last few years are compliant with the W3C continuous delivery standard. This means that they release new versions at a fast pace, sometimes even several versions per week.

    The major browsers also adopt and build on the Chromium code base. This makes these browsers very similar, except for the rendering part - which is still browser specific. This change should be considered in any cross-browser testing strategy.

    This type of test setup allows you to run your tests on a remote secure device and browser lab at a fraction of the cost of setting up your own device lab.

    With a solution called Browserstack, you can leverage the same single script for different combinations of devices to give you functional and visual test results on the variety of combinations specified.

    It is not necessary to duplicate the scenarios, but to think of the user paths so that they intersect and thus distribute the browsers over different scenarios.

    Key benefits of automated cross-browser testing:

    • Create automation scripts for different purposes - functional, visual, cross-browser testing, all at once.
    • No need to create different configurations for different types of tests
    • Leverage the solution for web, mobile web and native applications
    • No need to maintain the devices
    • Automated no-code tests = anyone can perform them


    Mr Suricate | A cross-browser automated testing solution 

    The no-code automated cross browser testing solution from Mr Suricate no-code automated cross-browser testing solution allows you to easily test applications and websites on different browsers, operating systems and mobile platforms.

    With Mr Suricateyou don't need to know how to code or spend a fortune to make sure your users have a smooth and bug-free browsing experience, no matter how they access it! 


    Request a demo

    Picture of Mr Suricate

    Mr Suricate