Who Performs Cross-Browser Testing?
The task of performing cross-browser testing is not limited to a certain role. Anyone responsible for ensuring the application is working should perform cross-browser testing. This could be the developer team, UI/UX designer team, SQA team and/or any other team who may be involved depending on your application.
The SQA team needs to verify the application works smoothly and properly across all browsers to ensure the quality of the application. You cannot only test the application on one platform or in one combination of web browsers, devices, or operating systems. Tests should be performed on several browsers to make sure no user leaves your application unsatisfied with the UI.
Additionally, the UI/UX team must run cross-browser testing to understand how different elements may look, behave and function in different web browsers and device sizes. They also need to know how elements behave in different browsers to design the overall layout of the application.
The developer team tops it off by having to perform cross-browser testing to make sure the application developed works (at least on the major web browsers) without any hassle. They need to be more aware of how responsive the application will be and work around that concept to ensure the user experience isn’t affected when browsing through different devices or web browsers.
When To Perform Cross-Browser Testing?
The timing for cross-browser testing depends on your role and the nature of your work. You could perform cross-browser testing during the development stage or pre-release stage.
Testing during the development stage is always the most favoured and cost-effective. Furthermore, the earlier the bugs are discovered, the easier and more effective it is to solve them. It can be done after the application is completed as well. It will not be as cost-effective as testing it in the development stage. However, it still holds advantages and helps identify any issues before the application is released to the public. Depending on the project you're dealing with, you can identify when you should perform cross-browser testing.
You can also perform the test after the application is released. However, doing so will be costly and can deter any potential customer from using your application again.
As the saying goes – "Something is better than nothing", so it would still be beneficial to perform the test after your application is released. However, it would be the least favoured option in all regards.
Performing Cross-Browser Testing
First and foremost, you need to understand that performing tests on all the existing combinations is not only difficult but an endless struggle that, in most cases, is not even required by your product. Let us not forget about the labour and capital costs that come with this. This is why choosing your test boundary is significant in defining how the testing will be carried out.
Selecting the Combination of Browsers
The probable possibilities of combining the available browsers, devices and operating systems are too overwhelming even for automation testing. Moreover, it would be time-consuming and distract you from the actual objective of testing the main features. Thus, narrowing down the test scenarios and creating a test boundary would be better for a more efficient testing process.
Firstly, be clear about your target audience and analyze the type of application that will be built. Selecting the scope of your cross-browser testing should be majorly based on these factors.
Let's say you are building an application for a bank. If you know the type of hardware and software that will be used to access your application, increasing the extent of your test scope would be pointless. On the other hand, if your application is a dire need for your audience or the only way for your audience to access something, such as a student portal of a specific educational institution or the legal first source of notices directed by the Government itself, you can opt out of performing cross-browser testing. Shorten the testing process by putting a prompt to use the favoured browser.
Moreover, if it is the only way to do something, most users will actually put up with using your application despite not being fully responsive to their current devices. However, plenty of options are already available if you're building a B2B or B2C application. As these applications' main purpose would be to attract more users compared to their competitors, even a small mistake can lead to people disregarding your application and switching to another better option. In such cases, it would be extremely necessary to perform cross-browser testing.
Choosing the combinations for testing can be based on two major factors:
- Analysis of your market
As a tester, you may not always have to decide the scope of the test boundaries. It is usually included in the SRS document or decided by the client, management or marketing team. However, this may not be the real case scenario. In many instances, you may have to give input on the combinations to be tested.
Choosing the combinations based on the current popularity ranks is one way, or you could analyze the market your product is targeting. Then, prioritize the combinations based on your findings.
After deciding on the testing boundary, you have to decide how to perform cross-browser testing. You can either perform cross-browser testing manually or with the help of automation.
Performing manual cross-browser testing is the same as performing any manual testing. You choose varying combinations of device-OS-browser and test your application manually across all the combinations that have been decided to be tested.
Installing the chosen combination and acquiring the selected device is costly on its own, excluding the personnel needed to test everything manually. It becomes boring after a few repetitions, and testers may skip or forget to test certain scenarios. It is very hectic and hard to manage, on top of being less efficient and effective than automation testing.
As the name suggests, it refers to performing cross-browser testing with the help of automation scripts. With the current scenario of available devices, browsers and OS combinations, performing manual testing would be like finding a needle in a haystack: too big of a task, less effective, and not to forget the amount of time to perform all the required tests. Moreover, it may even lead to decreased quality of your application, which is where automation testing comes as a saviour for us SQA engineers.
The obvious advantage of automation testing is the possibility of performing countless test scenarios in multiple combinations at a very high pace. Regression testing and helping the SQA team reuse the automation scripts become easier.
Cross-browser testing entails performing the same test scenarios in different combinations, which is monotonous and repetitive. Even if the SQA team contained many members, it would require extensive time to manually perform all the tests and report the bugs. Thus, there will be an unnecessary gap between the build provided for testing and developers fixing the reported bugs. This gap can be greatly reduced with the help of automation testing.
"To err is Human" – Repetitive manual testing is prone to human mistakes. However, automation scripts will execute the same test in the same way even when executed a thousand times (unless your tests are flaky!). This increases the accuracy of tests and ensures better test coverage.
Many automation tools allow users to take screenshots, record a video and create reports. Creating reports helps us keep records of all the test history, and a visual representation of the tests is better than verbally stating the tests being done.
With the increase in the popularity of automation testing, several tools have been introduced for automating cross-browser testing, such as Testsigma, BrowserStack, Sauce Labs, UFT and many more.
When to Perform Manual Testing?
Each technique has its own strengths and limitations, leading to the creation of suitable and unsuitable environments. Even with all the advantages of automation, there still are a few limitations, which is where manual testing gets to shine.
Sometimes, even if automation is possible, scripting it would be too complex. Other times, functionalities cannot be automated, or automation is not preferred to test them [for example, captchas and UI validations]. In these scenarios, manually testing the functionalities would be better than automation testing.
One major factor that helps to decide on the type of testing done is Return on Investment (ROI). If the investment can not equal the output, pouring one's resources into automation would be worth nothing.
Cross-Browser Testing – A Quick Walk-Through
- Before cross-browser testing, perform all the test scenarios on your preferred browsers and/or combinations. Doing this ensures you have a general idea of the actual workflow of the product, on top of knowing that your product is almost bug-free and works as expected.
- Create a test plan and decide on the combinations you will be performing the tests on, along with how you will perform the tests: manual or automated.
- Once you've decided and planned everything, prepare your resources for the tests. The resources can include personnel, devices, software, ... depending on your product and specifications.
- Perform the tests and create a report; bugs can be reported using any bug management tools.
Cross-browser testing is an essential part of the software development process that helps ensure that a website or application functions correctly on various browsers and devices.
By following best practices and using a combination of manual and automated testing, organizations can ensure that their websites and applications are accessible to the widest possible audience and provide a positive user experience.
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