7 Possible Cross Browser Testing Solutions for Data-Savvy Businesses

Cross browser testing is crucial for improving the customer experience, which is a lot easier with data-driven testing tools.
data-driven ux with browser testing tools
Shutterstock Photo License - PROKOPEVA IRINA

Big data has become a core aspect of modern web marketing. Companies need to use data to optimize their websites and get the most value out of their digital marketing strategies.

Over 1.1 trillion megabytes of data are created every day. The majority of this data is generated over the Internet.

This gives companies a huge opportunity to bolster their online marketing strategies by leveraging big data to the best of their abilities. They can use data to get better insights into the nature of their customers’ behavior.

However, your data-driven digital marketing strategy won’t yield great results if you fail to create the right foundation for it. One of of the biggest mistakes businesses make is failing to engage in data-driven UX optimization.

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UX optimization is even more important in a data-centric economy. Since more companies have invested heavily in big data these days to improve their user experience, customers have raised the bar with their expectations. One study found that 88% of customers said that they won’t return to a website with a poor user experience.

Fortunately, companies that know how to leverage big data strategically to improve their UX will get a much better response from customers. Asim Rais Siddiqui wrote an article for UX Matters on the evolving role of big data in UX design. The impact is massive:

“The use of big data increases the speed of the innovation cycle by 25%, improves business efficiencies by 17%, increases the effectiveness of research and development (R&D) by 13%, and results in products and services that are 12% better.”

One of the most important ways that they can utilize big data is through cross browser and device testing. Customers use so many different devices these days and the same customer may use different device to connect to a website. You have to make sure that the customer has a decent user experience on any device or browser. The experience should also be uniform.

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Fortunately, data analytics has made it easier to uncover these types of problems. After a recent study of thousands of websites, it was discovered that there are several very common cross browser compatibility issues. Though the study did not have a large sample size, these problems were experienced by every visitor who used the site.

It is important to remember that users expect the best from your site and will not hesitate to press the back button on the browser if a site does not work as expected and seems faulty to them. You will need to use analytics effectively to understand how they are responding to your site and take the appropriate steps to improve the experience. Google Analytics and Crazy Egg are some of the analytics platforms that help with optimization.

To expand online reach many organizations rely on internet and this makes it crucial to design web applications to be compatible with multiple browsers and their versions. It is very important to make the website to work flawlessly on every browsers, device and platforms.

As a web developer, you are certainly aware of the problem of cross-browser compatibility. Even if you use CSS reset and normalization to make your HTML5 website render consistently across all modern browsers, there will be some issues that you will need to take care of. Fortunately, there are a number of analytics solutions that make it easier to uncover them. We will go into these issues in more detail.

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In this article, I will list down some common cross-browser compatibility issues that I have encountered while making my own websites. The list is by no means comprehensive, but it should help you solve some common problems.

Lack of Testing on Real Devices

Data analytics has made it easier to use virtual machines for testing. While these are important to use, you have to also use real devices as well.

Unfortunately, many developers do not test their code on real devices and browsers. Some of them only test on one browser or two and think that’s enough (we all know IE comes with a set of surprises). I would say that testing your code on real devices is a must because virtual machines or emulators do not behave like the real thing and also cannot match the efficacy.

So, what can we use for testing purposes? You can buy all popular devices which might be a good idea if you want to know exactly how your website behaves.

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If you do not want to spend money on this you can use online services like LambdaTest, which have virtual machines available for testing purposes and also provides more than 3000 browser and device combinations to check the responsiveness and compatibility of your website.

Broken Links

The first issue that many users experience with cross-browser compatibility is broken links. When a user clicks on a link, they expect to go to where the link says it goes. If you use relative links on your website, this can cause problems for some users. Some browsers will recognize relative links as leading them back to the same page, while other browsers may send them to an error page or another part of your site.

To prevent this problem, always use absolute links when linking from one page to another within your site. If you have pages in different directories, you can still use absolute links by starting at the root level of your website.

This is one of the biggest benefits of data analytics tools when it comes to UX. There are sites like Ahrefs, Dr. Link Check and Dead Link Checker that use complex data mining tools to identify broken links.

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Differences in Default Styling

The biggest problem with cross-browser compatibility is the fact that different browsers have different default styles for different elements. While most modern browsers apply very similar styles to a newly opened page, they still differ in some cases. For example, the default font size in Chrome is 16px while it is 14px in Firefox and 12px in Internet Explorer (at least before IE10).

Fortunately, new advances in data analytics have improved CSS capabilities. If you use a CSS reset at the top of your style sheet, none of this should be an issue because all browsers will be forced to apply their default properties to all elements on the page. In other words, when using a CSS reset (or normalization), all browsers will begin with the same basic styles for all elements on the page.

Validate your HTML/CSS code

One of the most common issues with cross-browser compatibility is that browsers aren’t uniform in their adherence to web standards. Some browsers may support only a portion of standards, while others don’t support them at all. To ensure that your web pages are in compliance with the latest web standards, you should validate your code using a validation service.  Because the code is read and handled differently depending on the browser you are using. Some browser may automatically fixes the error but in others features might not be displayed at all. The W3C has an online validator that you can use to check if your code is standards-compliant.

It’s a good idea to use an analytics driven service like The W3C Markup Validation Service or Freeformatter.com to validate your HTML and CSS on each page of your site before you move on to testing it in different browsers.

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Older Browser Detection

Outdated browser detection is the process of checking if a user is using an outdated browser. If the script detects that the user is using an outdated version, it will display a popover informing the user that their browser is out of date and provide a link to download/upgrade to a new version or prompt to update on mobile devices.

Technology is advancing quickly, with browsers being constantly loaded with new advancements. Outdated browsers don’t support modern standards and therefore are slow, have the poor rendering, and may not support some features that you want your users to access on your website.

There are several AI-based scripts out there used for browser detection, we will be looking at one of them known as BrowerUpdate.org which addresses detecting the most popular browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.

Layout Issues

Layout issues are probably the most common compatibility issues. These generally occur due to the fact that different browsers have different default styles for HTML elements. Many of these can be easily fixed by using a CSS Reset which sets the styles on all elements to a neutral state. If a reset is not used, then you’d have to override each individual element’s style. This quickly becomes a headache, especially when dealing with older IE versions.

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Another issue that can cause layout problems is floating elements. Floats were one of the first attempts at the layout and are still widely used today despite being rather clunky. The problem is that if you don’t clear your floats, they will continue outside of their parent container. This causes all sorts of weird layout issues and there are many solutions out there (most of which involve using clearfix classes or pseudo-elements).

The last big category of layout problems is related to media queries. Media queries allow us to change our layouts based on screen size, orientation, and resolution. However, some older browsers don’t properly support media queries and your styles may not apply correctly. The fix for this is to use polyfills like Respond or CSS3-mediaqueries-js which do the work for you in browsers that don’t natively support

DOCTYPE Error

The DOCTYPE must be the very first line in your HTML document, before the HTML tag.

If you have a missing or incorrect DOCTYPE, IE6 will render your page in quirks mode. Quirks mode is a completely different way of rendering your page than when using standards mode. This can cause all sorts of issues, especially with positioning and font sizes.

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Most common DOCTYPE errors:

  • Forgot to put it at all (missing DOCTYPE).
  • Using an incorrect one for your specific needs (e.g., using the strict DTD for a transitional document).
  • Not having a space between the exclamation point and doctype statement (e.g., !DOCTYPE html instead of !DOCTYPE html).

Big Data Helps Improve UX with Cross Browser Testing

As we have covered above some of the most common cross browser testing issues, as well as their solutions. Big data has made it easier than ever to solve these challenges.

It may seem little complicated and there is a lot more to think about it but using one one of the best cross browser testing platform like LambdaTest, all your hardwork and burden will be taken care of. This platform will not only prevent issues with cross browser testing from occurring but also fixes the existing issues. Using LambdaTest’s online real device cloud and virtual testing platform of emulators and simulators, you can do live-interactive testing of your websites, web native or hybrid mobile applications. Eliminate your in-house device lab entirely and test more devices at a lower cost.

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You can also test Internet Explorer for Mac and make sure your web app or website is compatible with all versions of the Internet Explorer browser by performing live interaction testing on Internet Explorer 11 (IE11), IE10, IE9, IE8, and IE7.

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