In the early days of software development, compatibility testing was relatively simple. Developers would test their software on a limited number of platforms and configurations and make adjustments as needed. However, as the number of hardware, software, and network configurations grew, so did the complexity of compatibility testing.
Today, with the growth of cloud computing, IoT, and other emerging technologies, compatibility testing has become even more critical. Software developers must ensure that their applications work seamlessly across different platforms, devices, and networks.
In this blog post, we will discuss compatibility testing in detail and how it enables speedy quality-assured software delivery and great customer experience.
Let’s get started!
Role of Compatibility Testing in Customer Satisfaction and Overall Success
1. Resolves Issues Timely & Quickly
Compatibility testing allows you to identify problematic areas in your software quite early on during the software testing process. Before the software is ready to launch, prompt corrections to resolve device or browser compatibility issues minimize costs and reduce efforts.
As a result, it helps fix performance issues in your web and mobile apps without delay. With compatibility testing, you won’t need constant customer feedback and a vast budget, rather you’d be able to launch high-performing apps.
2. Improves Software Development
Compatibility testing also tends to improve the entire software development process by enabling early issue identification and resolution, enhancing user experience, and reducing development time and costs.
What’s more, it ensures that the software application works smoothly across different platforms and devices, providing a consistent user experience, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty, and reducing the risk of complaints and negative feedback.
3. Increases Productivity
Conducting different compatibility tests will help you ensure that your web/mobile apps are able to meet the needs of your users while also improving business productivity. Compatibility testing also reduces the need for customer support and troubleshooting, freeing up resources and reducing support costs.
4. Enhances Customer Satisfaction
Compatibility testing helps ensure you meet the fundamental expectations of your customers. And they are more likely to be satisfied with a software application that meets their needs and works seamlessly with their devices. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty, which can be beneficial for businesses in the long run. Moreover, it can help prevent potential problems that could arise from using incompatible software or hardware.
Types of Compatibility Testing
The following are the two major types of compatibility testing –
a. Backward Compatibility Testing verifies if the newer versions of a mobile application or software are compatible with the older ones. It tests if users using older versions or devices have a consistent user experience on new versions.
b. Forward Compatibility Testing tests the compatibility of the latest version of the software with the existing one. The behavior and compatibility of the existing software or hardware are checked with the newer versions based on the advancement in the features.
Backward and forward compatibility testing is sub-divided into the following categories:
1. Version Testing verifies if the application stays compatible with previous versions.
2. Browser Testing ensures that the application/software functions smoothly across all popular browsers.
3. Hardware Testing tests if the application is compatible with all concerned hardware.
4. Software Testing is done to verify the application compatibility with all the third-party software an application interacts with.
5. Network Testing checks if the application is functioning smoothly with networks of diverse bandwidths.
6. Device Testing helps you check if your application/software performs consistently with different devices such as Bluetooth, mobile, printers, tablets, scanners, etc.
7. Mobile Testing can help you ensure that the application is fully compatible with Android, iOS, and mobile OS.
8. OS Testing checks the application’s compatibility with Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems.
Best Practices for Successful Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing
1. Perform Code Validation
Code validation is a crucial part of your compatibility testing process as it helps verify if your website is well-formatted, SEO-friendly, and easy to maintain.
Website developers should ensure that the code written is as per the W3C standards. Also, they can leverage code validator tools to verify the code and check whether or not the website is cross-browser compatible.
Using text editors such as Adobe Dreamweaver can also help highlight the non-compatible coding standards.
2. Finalize a Browser Matrix
Developing a browser matrix means listing down the browsers and their versions that are compatible with your software or website/app. Remember that some browsers might not support the CSS and JS properties in their new versions. Therefore, ensure that you identify the browsers you want to target. Also, verify if your target audience uses those browsers and their corresponding versions. Generally, targeted users update their browser versions in the background, which requires you to keep your browser matrix updated.
3. Select an Ideal Test Automation Framework
Speed up the testing process by selecting the right automation testing tools to conduct compatibility tests. Cross-browser compatibility testing provides you insights into the front-end experience of a particular website or application. LambdaTest, Puppeteer, Cypress, Selenium, and Playwright are some of the widely used test automation frameworks.
The selection of the test automation tools should depend on the test requirements and the proficiency of a tester working on the tool.
4. Prefer Testing on Real Devices
There is nothing like testing the performance of your website and apps on real devices. However, although web application testing done on emulators and simulators is dependable to a certain extent, it is still vital to test on browsers installed on real devices.
This will enable you to rectify any responsive issues before the web app is released in the market. Moreover, cross-browser compatibility should be verified on real browsers even for cloud-based devices to ensure scalable and reliable testing.
5. Encapsulate Code in Framework
Choosing the right framework is a great way to start developing your website/application. Most frameworks are optimized for cross-browser issues and automatically create responsive elements without the help of a developer. They allow developers to focus on developing functionalities only.
Bootstrap framework, for instance, provides in-built functions that are responsive. It just requires you to inherit the class and the element to enable automatic rescaling on smaller devices.
6. Take the ‘Test-Develop-Test’ Approach
As per best practices, developers should test the website/application quite often at regular intervals. This will provide you with constant feedback from the user and help you deliver a more improved version of your apps and software.
Also, testing only after all the functionalities are developed might result in numerous issues, all at the same time, and eventually a delayed release. Regular feedback will save you time and effort and a better plan for the easy development of your applications. Therefore, ‘test-develop-test’ is an effective approach to reiterate your software development process.
Cross-platform app development can be overwhelming due to coding issues, a lengthy integration process, user experience concerns, and fear of cyber-attacks. But compatibility testing will help you measure how well your application and webpages display across hardware and software platforms. It will help you address the differences between different browser versions, operating systems, and devices.
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