Today there are many different browsers available for internet users. They range from the well-known Safari and Internet Explorer to the lesser known Opera, or even the anonymous Tor browser. Each browser has subtle differences in its coding that can cause websites to be displayed differently. Because of this it is important that web designers test the cross browser compatibility of their website on the most popular browsers if not on all browsers.
The Facts About Browsers
- The most popular browser in the world is Chrome and the second most popular browser is Firefox. – W3 Schools
- The amount of users who use Tor is hard to measure because of the anonymous nature of the browser.
- Mobile browsers will display websites differently, that is why websites have mobile versions.
- There are 11 versions of internet explorer but the most common version is 3 versions old. – ZDNet
What to do About it
The answer to the question of what to do about the compatibility in browsers is easy, you need to test it on as many browsers and operating systems as possible. Very few things upset a customer as much as a website that doesn’t work right and very few things turn a customer away as much as a poor looking website does. But how do you test the website on as many possible browsers as possible? Taking the time to check every browser is time consuming.
There are two options. Option number one is to hire a professional to visit each page of a website to ensure that it is working properly while utilizing every browser that you want to test compatibility on. Option number 2, the cheaper and easier option, utilize a web service that automatically takes pictures of how your website looks on different browsers. The reason this is the easier option is that all you have to do is put your website’s information in and select the browsers you want to test on and click go. Some of the websites that provide this service are even free!
Utilizing an Automated Service for checking cross browser compatibility
Utilizing an automated service to test the browser compatibility of your website is faster and cheaper. The quality of automated testing services has greatly improved since they first came out. Now with a lot of sites you can automatically test a wide array of browsers on a variety of operating systems all at one time. Take a look at some of these services.
Free Automated Services
BrowserStack is one of the best browser compatibility test websites out there. While the website states that they charge per use I was able to perform three website compatibility tests without paying and without even creating an account. BrowserStack claims to offer over 700 different browsers to test. It also offers 11 different operating systems, including mobile phone browsers. BrowserStack also offers mobile responsiveness testing. It does all of this and provides a simple user interface that doesn’t take a professional to use.
BrowserShots is a free open source alternative to BrowserStack. Unlike BrowserStack, BrowserShots does not state anywhere on their website that they charge. Featuring over 400 different browsers spread across three different operating systems they offer a variety of choices but lack the ability to test mobile platforms.
Browserling is another free browser compatibility testing website.Browserling at first appears to be a very basic website with an old fashion computer-style look but it surprises you with a sophisticated program. Unlike the previous two options Browserling offers live website testing. You select the browser you want to test your website on, click run, and are provided with a live browser to interact with.Browserling offers 3 different plans.
- Free – Limited to three minute sessions, limited browser selection, with a set resolution.
- Developer Plan ($19/Month) – Unlimited sessions, all listed browsers, custom resolutions, 1 user, and more.
- Team Plan ($29/Month) – Same as developer plan with more users.
Paid Automated Services/Programs
Ghostlab is a program for your Mac computer that costs $49 per license. Ghostlab offers a wide variety of browsers and operating systems. Ghostlab offers a very large amount of features including automating filling out forms so that you don’t have to create information to put in each box. Ghostlab offers a personal support if you are having problems with the software.
CrossBrowserTesting is essentially an online version of Ghostlab. It provides many of the same features. They claim to provide you with access to over 750 browsers to test your website. The essential difference between CrossBrowserTesting and Ghostlab is that CrossBrowserTesting is browser based. One of the great features of CrossBrowserTesting is that despite the fact that it is web based they still allow you to test your local website using their service, which means your website doesn’t have to be live. The prices vary from the most basic plan at $29.95 to over $190 with the main difference being features, user numbers, and amount of time you spend testing each month.
Browsera is another website that has a variety of plans and features. Like CrossBrowserTesting, Browsera is another web based service. They allow users to test login pages and allow for testing of layouts. The prices for Browsera range from free (with very little features) to $99/month. The more expensive plans have more features and allow for more uses per month.