Compatibility Testing is one of the most important test types when performing Quality Assurance on a software development project. Web compatibility testing is when you test the site using a variety of different criteria on different browsers, operating systems (OS) and screens to verify if a site will work on all.
This means a compatible website should be able to run on different platforms with all the functionality and features working the same on each platform.
When testing for browser compatibility, pay special attention to:
- Web browser: Which is the most used web browser that our clients (and their customers) use? (i.e. Firefox, Chrome, IE, etc. )
- Operative systems: What operating system do they use? (i.e. Mac, Windows, Linux)
- Screen resolution: Test the most common screen resolutions like, 800 x 600 pixels, 1024 x 768 pixels, 1280 x 800 pixels, etc.
Why is browser compatibility so important?
Nowadays, users have their choice of browser platforms and these platforms are constantly being updated with new releases., Sometimes, these releases are focused on user experiences, so the compatibility of the website is a big challenge for designers and developers.
The main thing to ensure is that all the functionality and features are working in the same, no matter which web browser, OS or screen resolution the site visitor is using. Web browser compatibility tests allow you to identify issues, like lost functionality on a particular browser, which may impact the user’s perception of quality.
As we know, there are a lot of web browsers and they release new versions all the time, testing all these web browsers would take too much time and a lots of effort.
But how necessary is to test the website in all this browsers?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the web1. The W3C posts monthly reports that depict web browser, operative system and screen resolution are the most used.
W3C Web Browser Market Share (Jan. 2012):
Charts from www.w3counter.com
Based on these statistics, a QA team can decide which web browser, OS, and screen resolution we should use to test website.
So it is not necessary test all the web browsers we only need to define the trends on each section , as web browsers, OS, screen resolutions.
In this way we should use Chrome 16, IE8, firefox9, IE9 as top web browsers, also we should use win7, winXP, Apple OSx as OS, and 1024x768, 1366x768 as screen resolutions
There are also many apps (free and paid) that can be useful when you want to conduct web compatibility testing. The most used are: BrowserShots, NetRenderer, CrossBrowserTesting, BrowsrCamp, and Browsera.