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When websites being deployed to the internet are about to go live, the age old question always comes up. "Which browsers should I test?"

I am not asking that question because it will soon become obsolete. So, what I would like to know is what information or techniques are available to determine which browsers to test.

In the past I have used the wikipedia page of browser market share as the primary guide plus adding any soon to be realised browsers to the list, based on this criteria.

  • It is used by a significant portion of a sites users, and is in common, widespread usage.
  • It is the default browser on the latest version of Windows or Mac OS X.
  • It is a newly released, or about to be released browser which is expected to quickly gain a significant portion of browser market share, e.g. the current in beta version of IE.

Is this the best technique available or is there something better?

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This technique seems comprehensive enough, is there a reason you think more should be done ? Did you ever miss a browser/version and/or got a bug report from an untested browser ? –  Rsf May 12 '11 at 10:14

6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Research your potential audience.

  • What country are your hits from? Europe is divided between Firefox and IE, USA has significant share of Safari, and users from ex-USSR countries use Firefox, Opera and IE in more or less equal proportions.

  • What is the topic of your website? If it intends for a wider audience, you should pay attention to old or obsolete browsers (like IE 6 and 7)

  • Do you target your site for mobile devices?

And so on. I don't think there is other fundamentally different approach than that.

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I wish I could give multiple votes for this one. –  Steven May 12 '11 at 12:27
2  
Agreed...+1! If you aren't scrubbing your web logs and analyzing your user base you're going to be way off. Of course you should also check with your Developers to find out what they are supporting, but I always start with the current IE and FF since they display pages radically different. –  MichaelF May 12 '11 at 12:37
    
This is a pretty solid way to start. One other suggestion once you have a site up and running is look at your analytics (Google analytics etc.) assuming you are using them. Once of the things my company found is that our user base was much more IE focused than we thought with something close to 80% of our customers using a flavor of that. It can help you focus your time on where you want your effort to be. –  Dan Snell Feb 26 '13 at 18:58

Are you looking for cross browser testing solutions? Well there are certain online tools as well as desktop tools for multiple browser testing. In these articles there are lists of online tools and desktop tools respectively.

List of online tools: http://www.eurostarconferences.com/blog/2013/7/25/comparison-of-cross-browser-ui-testing-tools

List of desktop tools: http://blog.testing-whiz.com/2013/10/is-your-website-cross-browser-friendly.html

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Log files, log files, log files, log files! OK, so if you don't have Apache or IIS log files or if you don't have a way to parse User Agent strings out of them, using something like Google Analytics should give you a good idea.

While the Wikipedia page is an excellent general reference to what market share is for browsers it's doing it at a level that is unrelated to your site and application. For example, what if you're spending your time testing IE but after looking @ your logs you realize that IE users only comprise 2% of your overall traffic.

The "court awareness" that the Wikipedia article provides is great: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, etc but being able to know - specifically - what your visitors are using is far more useful and will allow you to customize not only your approach to browser testing but also to feature development.

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One thing that many people seem to forget is the information at their disposal. Does the company that the site is launching for already have any sites in production? Is this replacing another one? Is this just an enhancement or bug fix release. If the answer to any of these is yes, ask for (if you don't already have) a copy of the browser (and often operating system) analytics reports for these (this) site. A few different time spans are often great if the company offer's promotions occaisionally, as some other browsers tend to spike during these times.
After I started doing this for the largest site in my current portfolio, I was rather surpised at the results.

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Know your target audience as well.

An example that immediately springs to mind is W3CSchools (a site dedicated to teaching about web development). Due to the nature of the sites content the majority of its users are likely to be in web development related jobs; and as such will typically use browsers like Firefox or Chrome because on the whole they seem to prefer not to use Internet Explorer. (Further statistics are explained here).

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I just realised this was mentioned in a little less detail but Nikita .. my apologies –  Craig Pilgrim May 12 '11 at 11:26

You might like to refer this - http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/articles/gbs/

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This is a good reference, but it is the list of browsers that Yahoo's YUI supports based on its market, and does not necessarily give the idea of the real market. Plus the page update is quite delayed ;-) –  Suchit Parikh May 17 '11 at 1:50

protected by Bruce McLeod Feb 4 at 3:34

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