What Is Cross Browser Compatibility and Why Do We Need It?

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What Is Cross Browser Compatibility and Why Do We Need It?

Compatibility and accessibility — both are essential to making your website successful. Here's how cross-browser testing can help!

· Performance Zone ·
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Over the last two decades, we have seen a tremendous increase in growth of the web. In 1998, there were around 2.4 million websites; now, there are around 1.8 billion — an exact increase of 74900 percent. Not just this, the number of Internet users has shot up by 2727 percent from 147 million in 1998 to 4,157 million in 2018. The number of mobile users back in 1998 were 318 million, whereas, in 2018, it’s 7740 million — a direct advancement of 2333 percent.

Growth in number of websites, internet users, and mobile users from 1998 to 2018

Growth in the number of websites, Internet users, and mobile users from 1998 to 2018

With there being such a high volume of content available to users, people are viewing this content on more than 3000 different types of web-enabled devices.

That’s what we are most concerned about.

This results in more users, devices, platforms, browsers, and, ultimately, and more ways in which your website can be viewed. So, your major concern should be: how do your users (who are browsing your website on thousands of distinct devices) see your website the way you want them to see it?

The growth in web also resulted in multiple different types of technologies to build this web ecosystem, and significant diverse tools, like web browsers, to access and interact with this content. Unfortunately, not all technologies are mutually compatible with each other. A web developer would always need to make sure that their website is compatible with every technology, hence the need for cross browser compatibility testing.

Once users face a problem, they will leave your site and never come back. So, yes! Cross browser compatibility is essential.

‘Other Browsers’ Demand Cross Browser Testing

Most developers have a favorite browser. We will call this prefered browser “Browser Bias.” Usually, this favorite browser is the top version of Chrome or Firefox. They can develop and debug the entire product on that browser. But the major thing that you must keep in mind is: "‘We are not our users.’ Our users can be anyone, and they could be using any browser." We cannot let our bias towards a browser or a browser resolution affect our product. It is entirely possible that browsers that we respectfully ignore while developing can be a favorite browser to our target users.

Granted, the latest 2-3 versions of Chrome would have the highest coverage. But even that coverage is not 100 percent. You cannot not develop for the rest of the users. It’s just not good design.

Latest global stats show that Chrome, Safari, and UC browsers are the top three browsers in 2018, but again, statistics can be a little misleading because in different areas, people prefer different browsers.

 Top 3 browsers in 2018 worldwide

Top three browsers in 2018 worldwide

Say, for example, in Japan, the top three browsers include Chrome, Safari, and IE, with Safari holding 25 percent market share on all device types compared to the global share of 14.4 percent.

Top 3 browsers in Japan

Top three browsers in Japan in last year

Similarly, when we look at the statistics of Germany, we’ll find Chrome, Firefox, and Safari competing for the top browser spot.

Top 3 browsers in Germany

Top three browsers in Germany last year

Also, in countries like Cuba, the Android browser bags the position in top three browsers, so this statistic shows you that you can’t even rely on the top browsers in order to find out the most-used browser. This is quite dynamic and dependent. Some prefer Chrome, some prefer Firefox, Safari, IE, and several others. This, however, does give preference to mobile browsers!

Mouthful of data to digest?

On the top of it, various browsers come with various features.

For example, placeholder, the attribute in HTML, isn’t supported by even the latest versions of IE and Edge; however, Chrome and Firefox lovingly accept this attribute.

Placeholder supporting browsers

Browsers supporting Placeholder

Similarly, WebM video format isn’t supported in the one of the widely used browsers, Safari, along with Edge and iOS Safari.

WebM video format supporting browsers

Browsers supporting WebM video format

When used, these may cause bugs to peek into the other web browser that you find important.

So, don’t decide for yourself what will work, Let the data speak for you. You can also use various analytics tools like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, etc. to gather different types of data like traffic source, most-liked browsers by audience, and a lot more. So, don’t assume anything. Let the data do the talking.

Cross Browser (Compatibility) x (Accessibility)

If you have reached this point, you might be familiar with the importance of the cross browser compatibility. But there is still a lot more to it than just compatibility.

Let’s now explore a major aspect of cross browser compatibility, which is accessibility.

The major aim is to provide all your users with the same experience across all the browsers. When we talk about all users, we can’t simply ignore the ones that are differently gifted or the persons with disabilities. So, accessibility adds to the cross browser compatibility by making the web available no different for them. If your website works on all browsers but fails to show its value on screen readers, then you are missing out on a major portion of the population.

As stated by WHO, 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, so your website ought to work fine for them, too.

Screen readers and Transcripts for PWD
For those who have hearing impairments, having transcripts and videos on your website can help.

When you account for accessibility to your website, you benefit other users by improving the SEO for your website as well.

  • Screen-reader-accessible pages are also accessible to search engines via search engine algorithms.
  • Adding transcripts in videos means more content, i.e. a more SEO-friendly website.

Not just this, search engines love accessibility-friendly websites. So, it’s going to benefit you in more ways you can even imagine.

If You Are Not Cross Browser Compatible, Your Competitors Will Benefit From That!

Yes, and that’s absolutely true. If a user loves your website, then they may come to you often. But if you don’t serve them well, they will go away, and possibly, never return.

Because, users won’t switch their browser to see you working, they will switch the website and to whom will they head to? Your competitors.

If your website fails to meet their standards on their browsers, you are going to be in trouble as:

  • 45 percent will hesitate in visiting your website again or they may never visit it.
  • 32 percent of the users, you find your site problematic in one way or another are less likely to pay you for your service.
  • 35 percent of the users will make a more negative perception of your company.
  • Even 22 percent of them will leave for good.

So, may be your actions will benefit your competitors along with causing loss to you.

Mastering the Art of Making a Website Cross Browser Compatible

Making your website cross browser compatible is an art. Some major hacks of mastering this art include:

Staying up to date on the latest technologies: There is no harm in keeping pace with the latest technologies, development tools, updates, libraries, and frameworks. This will help you take care of your website's cross browser compatibility and make sure website performance is up to speed with the latest browsers and browser versions.

Testing carefully: Test your website thoroughly for various platforms and browsers using cross browser testing tools. 

Accessibility: Make sure that your website is accessible to all, including persons with disabilities, too.

Pleasing look and feel: Your website should provide a pleasing look and feel to the users — no matter what. Make sure that your users love it on every platform they access it.

So, the question is how can you make your website cross browser compatible? Well, that’s a whole new blog topic that I won't bother to get into right now. So, stay tuned for more on cross browser compatibilty!

Until next time, happy testing!

accessibility, browser compatibility, browser testing, compatibility, cross browser testing, cross browser testing tool, performance, website testing

Published at DZone with permission of Deeksha Agarwal . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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