Today’s digital consumers are constantly evolving. There are endless new ways to connect to the web, from smartphones and tablets to virtual reality headsets. Understanding how your target audience interacts with the digital world is one of the best ways to make sure you can thrive online.
Browsers are one of the most essential tools consumers use to access the internet, and there are dozens of different options to choose from, including Firefox, Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
If your site isn’t compatible with these different browsers, everything from your SEO to your UX strategy could be at risk.
Why Is Browser Compatibility Crucial?
“Browser compatibility” refers to your website’s ability to render page designs and display content as you’ve intended, regardless of the tool your customers use to visit you. In other words, regardless of whether your audience visits you using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Brave or something else entirely, they should get the same experience.
Browser compatibility ensures you can reach the widest possible audience and deliver an excellent customer experience every time. If your site isn’t compatible with a certain browser, you risk:
- Poor SEO: Search engine rankings aren’t just influenced by keywords and backlinks. You also need to give your customers a good experience on your page. Slow loading speeds caused by lack of compatibility, or broken page could lead to a high bounce rate, which can result in compromised search engine results.
- Lost opportunities: Every time a customer is unable to effectively use your website, you’re missing out on an opportunity. Poor browser compatibility could mean your customers can’t fill out essential forms to join your mailing list or complete a transaction with your store.
- Reputation issues: If people have a bad experience on your website, they may speak negatively about you online, which drives other potential consumers away from your pages.
Is Browser Compatibility Difficult to Achieve?
To serve the widest range of customers on your website, you’ll need to ensure your pages are compatible with all the browsers your audience is most likely to use. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult process. Every browser has its own distinct requirements when it comes to CSS rules, website code, and content. What’s more, new browsers are emerging all the time, often with their own quirks.
Rather than spending all your time and effort trying to adhere to the rules of every browser, it makes the most sense to focus on the browsers most important to your target audience. For instance, you can use your website analytics and online market share reports to determine the most used browser leading to your website.
Focusing on a handful of browsers ensures you can more easily keep up with the various changes made by browser developers. Many of the top browsers, like Chrome and Firefox, are constantly releasing new versions, with new rules to be aware of.
Plus, making sure you’re up-to-date with the most popular browsers usually means you’ll automatically be compatible with some up-and-coming browsers too. Some of the newer browsers on the market build on the same guidelines as the market leaders.
How Do You Test Browser Compatibility?
The first step in ensuring you’re compatible with the right browsers, is testing cross-browser compatibility. Most companies will focus on the following options:
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- Google Chrome
Your Google Analytics reports will show you which browsers are most common to your audience if you click on the Audience in the left sidebar menu, followed by Technologies, then Browser and OS. There are also plenty of resources on the web to discover which browser apps are most popular among various cohorts, which you can slice according to geo-location, device and other parameters.
Once you know which browsers you need to be compatible with, you can test your functionality using one of the many browser compatibility testing tools online. A few worth considering:
- Saucelabs: Saucelabs can test your website for compatibility with all of the most common PC and mobile device browsers. You need to pay for the premium service to check on your browser compatibility regularly. Alternatively, you can use the 14-day free trial to examine your site’s performance right now.
- Browserstack: With Browserstack, you can check the cross-platform functionality of your website in real-time or set up regular automated tests. The technology tests your functionality across thousands of real devices and browsers to ensure everything is rendering correctly.
- Browsera: A popular browser compatibility testing tool, Browsera can notify you of problematic versions of your website. Running a test will give you a detailed report with a description of any pages which have issues on specific browsers. You’ll see where specific errors in scripting and coding may be causing your problems, too.
Maintaining Browser Compatibility
When you’re building a website for your online store or service, it’s easy to get carried away focusing on things like how to use the right keywords to make your blog stand out with Google, or what kind of content you should place on each product page. However, it’s crucial not to overlook the basics, too – like whether your visitors can actually access your website correctly.
Cross-browser compatibility ensures your site, and its content, can reach the widest possible selection of customers from all environments, so you can have the best chances of conversions. Make sure your site is compatible with the most valuable browsers today.