The Anatomy of Cross Platform Testing

You are here
cross platform testing


There are dozens of browsers and operating systems — you just never know what a user will pick to open your app or site on. For that, cross platform testing is performed.

What is cross platform testing?

There are two types of manual and automated cross platform testing, used both for sites and apps:

Why is it necessary to adapt software to different platforms? Because there are thousands of possible ways for users to launch your applications, and you need to make sure they are always accessible and functioning.

Cross platform website testing

You’d think, in the modern era of jaw-dropping innovations, companies could find time to check the compatibility of their website. Especially when it comes to corporations like Airbnb or Groupon. However, weird things still happen: for instance, Airbnb Support recommended users to launch their website only in Google Chrome, and so did Groupon. People were outraged and the situation on Twitter got out of hand for a while.

Building and testing your website for just one browser? How 90s of you.

However, there is a good side of each story: now we have a lesson about the importance of cross platform browser testing and the consequences of its ignorance.

Why do websites look differently on various browsers?

  • ‘Default’ elements display differently depending on the browser and its version. If your website uses HTML elements like radio buttons, normal buttons, error messages, and so on, they are styled in specific ways which depend on the browser. Therefore, in Google Chrome a page can be displayed differently than in Firefox or Explorer.
  • The particular versions of HTML or CSS are not supported. The thing is, browsers should constantly catch up and accommodate to certain changes. Some of them do it faster, like Chrome, some, like Explorer, tend to be slower. The solution is to test your website on different versions of HTML and CSS to make sure interface is adapted to later and earlier releases.
  • Display resolutions. This has nothing to do with browsers but we should acknowledge the fact that people use different screens. Some of your visitors have the resolution of 1024x768 px, some of 800x600 px. You can make sure the interface will look the same by avoiding the usage of static dimensions. Instead of entering the width of an image as 1024 px, for example, just put 100%.

So the rule is: the website should be tested on various browsers and operating systems. The sooner the better, usually it can be done as long as you have page designs ready. But even if your website is already functioning, better late than never.

What is the purpose of cross-browser testing

We sorted out that interface should be tested on different browsers. But let’s face it: you can work with a bad interface even if it sucks. However, lack of cross-browser testing might have more serious consequences like disable some of the important website functions (do an order, fill a contact form, download a file) or prevent a user from completing a durable procedure such as registration, commenting, writing a post etc. It all results in frustrated users and unsatisfied site owners.

To prevent all of that from happening, the team of testers steps in to:

Cross OS testing for apps and websites

According to Gartner research, the most popular operating systems are Android, IOS, Windows, and Linux. Each of them has its requirements and peculiarities which need to be taken into account. The best possible option is to adapt your app to all of them.

However, it’s a very expensive investment, and rather unnecessary if you have a narrow audience. Why not to pick 1-2 most popular OSs (basing the choice on the thorough research of your audience) and thoroughly test your software just for these platforms? Yes, you won’t make happy every user but at least bigger half of your audience will be satisfied.

What to consider while planning cross platform testing?

  • Know your users: what OSs and browsers they use, how they access the app or a website, what problems they have. Focus on most common platforms and bugs.
  • Choose platforms your solution will support. When it comes to OSs, it’s recommended to choose a couple of operating systems and make it work there. With websites, it’s better to adapt your site to at least 5 most common browsers, not just Chrome.
  • Define problems. Every application and website has bugs — users find errors even in Google products every day. Testing doesn’t aim to eliminate all bugs (it’s impossible) but solve those that cause most problems. Start with performing most basic and important actions (registration, making an order, launching an app etc) and then dig deeper. You can use a heatmap and mark the most urgent errors with red, less important ones — with yellow.
  • Automate. Compatibility testing requires a repetitive, therefore boring work. The rule is: everything that can be automated, shouldn’t be done manually. By using cross platform testing tools, you save tester’s time, improve their focus and motivation, most importantly - save resources. Automation is an investment that always pays off.

Cross platform testing is not a luxury but a necessity. If you developed a great app or website, the least you can do for its success is to make sure potential clients will access it. If you have a project that you can’t wait to show the world, contact us. Our award winning QA team of 100+ certified testers is happy to make sure your product works exactly the way you intended, on all browsers and operating systems.

And don’t forget to take a look at other important types of testing:

Created: 22 Mar 2018