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Cross-Browser Testing is the Most Important - and Overlooked - 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 to verify that your site is responsive, looks great, and functions properly across various platforms, including mobile screens and all popular browsers and operating systems.

Why is cross browser testing so important?

As you know, there are several widely used operating systems out there for desktop and mobile devices, and even more internet browsers, and everyone has a preference. Imagine if you build a website and you work hard to make sure everything looks perfect on Firefox - only to discover that half your clients can't view it properly because they're using Chrome!

Not only will this decrease your existing customers' satisfaction, but it'll also increase your bounce rates as new users aren't able to utilize the site. More importantly, your conversion rates will decrease if errors affect your online store - and ultimately, Google's search engine bots will penalize you by 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 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 heavily 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.

What's next?

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. We also offer regular web reporting to our clients, including cross-browser testing performed whenever updates are released to popular operating systems and browsers. Feel free to email us and we can give you the rundown on how you can optimize your business website.