Free and Subscription Cross-Browser Testing Tools
Throughout the process of building a website, it is imperative to test design and development work in multiple browsers and on multiple platforms. Due to the fact that browsers do not use a standard method for rendering a site, errors can occur in a site’s layout and functionality. If these issues are not taken care of during the development process prior to launch, a visitor’s experience could be negatively impacted.

There are many tools available to designers and developers today that ease the process of cross-browser testing. Keep reading to discover our favorites.

Internet Explorer Testing Tools

Internet Explorer testing graphicIf you ask any designer or developer which browser gives them the most trouble and hours of issue debugging, they will answer with Internet Explorer.

Regardless of the version, Internet Explorer is well-known for bugs both with design layout and development scripts.  There are several ways to attack these issues. First, newer versions of IE provide debugging tools directly in the browser. Simply hit F12 when viewing a page and the developer tools appear in a new window. These F12 developer tools allow you to change the browser and document mode to view later versions, such as IE7 and IE8. These developer tools also allow you to inspect specific HTML and alter CSS styles. Since layout issues can be address directly in the browser, this should be the first method used by designers to find a solution.

There are also other tools available that can help ensure browser compatibility, like IETester that provide the ability to replicate issues and bugs in the proper version of Internet Explorer. I would also recommend installing a version of Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 on a Virtual Machine for additional testing if possible.

Other Effective Cross-Browser Testing Tools

Internet Explorer should not be the only focus for testing. There are many other major browsers being used including Chrome, FireFox, and Safari. Not to mention there are several operating systems running these browsers such as Windows, Linux and Mac. There are free and subscription multi-browser testing services that give designers and developers an opportunity to test a new website in many of these browsers and on these platforms.

Free Tools

  • Browser Shots is one of the most effective and free tools available. There is a comprehensive list of browsers and platforms available for testing. Browser Shots includes both recent browser versions along with legacy versions.
  • Browsera includes a free version with limited browsers and low-resolutions screenshots. However, this tool does provide a detailed list of script errors and other potential problems.
  • Lunascape is a free triple engine browser. That means that you can run and test a new website in Trident (IE), Gecko (Firefox) and Webkit (Chrome and Safari) and compare rendering engines side-by-side.

Subscription Tools

  • Browserling is an affordable tool that provides unlimited browser sessions and SSH tunnels for multiple versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera. The developer plan is reasonably priced a $20/month.
  • SauseLabs provides a Virtual Machine for testing various browsers and OS platforms. The service provides great diagnosis for website and mobile applications. Pricing plans are based on minutes of testing time and the number of users. There is also a free plan that includes 30 minutes of browser testing time.
  • BrowserStack also provides instant access to a browser inside of a Virtual Machine. This is a great tool for both desktop and mobile testing. Small team pricing is very affordable at $50/month. With this month service, developers and designers have access to over 200 browsers and over 40 mobile devices.

Remember… Cross-Browser Compatibility Is VERY Important

There is a large amount of value in all of these cross-browser testing tools, software and resources. By thoroughly testing a website in as many browsers as possible, you are eliminating the possibility of a lost visitor or shopper due to an easily corrected bug. If testing time is limited, I would suggest reviewing your analytics and evaluating the amount of traffic your website is getting from various browsers.

If you have additional questions about browser testing or web development, please contact us today. Are there other testing tools you prefer? Please add them in the comments below!


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