Why You Must Test Browser Compatibility

Why You Must Test Browser Compatibility
January 23, 2013 Webmaster

why-you-must-always-test-different-browsers

Regardless of whether you have a website for business purposes, personal enjoyment or as a community engagement platform, you need to be sure that it displays correctly across all browsers to make the most of your online presence.

Small-scale e-businesses and personal users such as bloggers often dismiss concerns about cross-browser compatibility, sometimes from lack of knowledge but also because they assume it’s a matter their hosting platform or web designer will automatically take care of, which is not always the case. Some think, incorrectly, that the chance of incompatibility across browsers is negligible.

The increasing number of browser products available today means that internet users can quickly develop a preference for one technology over all others. The savvy blogger, e-commerce operator, web designer or web developer knows that it’s crucial for websites to be built so that they are fully functional and display identically no matter what program an internet user chooses to surf with.

What could be worse than discovering after launching your website that it loads on Firefox but not on Safari or Chrome? What if your images don’t show on Internet Explorer, or your text is incorrectly formatted on Opera?

If your customer cannot successfully surf your site on their preferred browser, what are they likely to change – their software or the webpage? What would you do?

You can see how vital it is to include cross-browser compatibility checks as part of the process of web design right from the start. You have a particular message and a specific image you want your website to convey to everyone, not just a fraction of the browsing public.

Following three basic steps will ensure maximum cross-browser functionality:

1. Ensure Your Code is Clean & Valid

I can’t put too much emphasis on the value of clean, valid code, whether you’re working from a pre-existing template or starting from scratch. Valid code makes it easy for the browser to interpret your instructions successfully. Clean code speeds up page load for your visitors and crawl speeds for search engines. If you’re using a template, try and use code that is HTML/CSS valid. If you’re writing your own code, cross reference its validity at www.w3schools.com. Understand what your code does, and if it’s not cross-browser compliant you need to check and recheck the impact it has by reviewing the page in various browsers.

 2. Validate HTML/XHTML

Use w3schools HTML Validator to verify your site’s HTML. I remember my early days of coding and the hundreds of errors I inadvertently made. Manual validation is a time-consuming and brain-burning process, so if you start with good code you are going to eliminate a lot of issues for yourself and your clients.
The HTML Validator reports each error by line number, but identifying the actual position of the error is sometimes difficult, especially in PHP software like that used by WordPress themes, where the page is built by a combination of different files. With patience and perseverance, however, anyone with even just rudimentary knowledge of HTML can survive the validation process..

3. Validate CSS

Now do the same thing through the CSS Validator, which tests for CCS level 2.1. Unfortunately even though CSS 3 is on the market and supported by many browsers, the Validator does not work for it. Still, that’s no reason to avoid the superior CSS3. Just be sure to do diligent reviews across all browsers to ensure it works as you intend.

Web development is an ever-changing field and it’s vitally important to stay abreast of changes and trends to ensure full functionality and compatibility with the growing number of browsers available. A successful web design business depends on a reputation for the pages it provides displaying properly at all times, so make browser testing a mandatory feature of your routine.