Which Browser Compatibility Tools Do The Pros Use To Test Websites?

by 18 11/18/2011

It’s getting crazy out there.

Testing how a website appears in the multitude of browsers available at the different screen sizes available can be difficult to do without a good tool.

We asked our Crazy Egg Web Design experts which tools they use to test their web designs.

If you have a good tool that you use to test browser compatibility, please let us know in the comments!

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Chris Wallace, Lift UXAdobe BrowserLab is a great tool for testing multiple browsers and versions. It is very fast and comprehensive. It renders a screenshot of the page as it exists in each browser. The best part is, right now it is free to use (though that will change at some point).

One of the hardest things to do in cross-browser testing is to test a website that is being developed through a secure VPN connection. Tools like BrowserLab and Webshots are unable to connect to a VPN, so it becomes very important to have access to a PC and a Mac that can both connect to the same VPN. In that case, I use IETester for the PC to test older versions of IE along with standalone Firefox versions (installed on a thumb drive).
~ Chris Wallace, Lift

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Shane Adreon, The Loud FewFor testing browser compatibility, I prefer to have a variety of machines with all relevant browsers on hand. I haven’t found a tool that compares to the actual experience of viewing a site on a specific machine through a specific browser.

The exception to this is older versions of IE. With so many older versions of IE still in use. We topically use IE Tester to make sure our sites are functioning correctly.
~ Shane Adreon, The Loud Few

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Stephanie Hamilton, Hamilton DesignMy favorite tools for testing browser compatibility include:

Adobe Browser Lab – This useful tool allows you to see multiple screenshots at a time from different browsers. You have the capability of choosing which browsers you’d like to test in as well. If you prefer a more close-up look you can compare a site side-by-side with its 2-up function.

Browser Shots – Customize your browser testing capabilities with this handy tool. It allows you to easily select which browsers you want to test your site in. There are plenty of browsers to chose from, although the more cryptic ones you may chose to leave unselected to save loading time. The best part of all is this service is free to use, and you don’t have to create an account to do so.
~ Stephanie Hamilton, Stephanie Hamilton Design

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Cesar Keller, Simple FlameMy favorite is Adobe Browser Lab. It allows you to quickly preview and compare different environments. Its simple and effective.
~Cesar Keller, SimpleFlame

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Brian Schwartz, Spoke MarketingI am starting to love Adobe BrowserLab (browserlab.adobe.com). I used to have a bunch of virtual machines for testing different Internet Explorer versions (and still use those too for testing features of sites), but since BrowserLab rolled out, I spend most of my upfront testing time there. It grabs screen shots of different browsers and allows you to look at multiples at one time.

If you are testing emails, Litmus is the way to go for testing email client compatibility (it’s licensed by MailChimp and available in there).
~ Brian Schwartz, Spoke Marketing

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Sabramedia, LLCAt this point, our browser compatibility checking is minimal. We check in Safari, Firefox, and Chrome and, for the most part, have stopped worrying too much about IE. If a problem comes up, we pull up a Windows machine and get it fixed.
~ Jonathan Wold, Sabramedia, LLC

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Lara Swanson, DynIETester – though it’s buggy, it’s been the easiest way for me to test content that isn’t yet live on the web. I also like having the ability to click through pages and test any kind of user interaction that you wouldn’t see with just a screenshot of a page.

Adobe Browserlab – this is my favorite way to test content that is live on the web. It contains browsers that I don’t have in my local testing suite and has proven reliable for me.
~ Lara Swanson, Dyn

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What about you?  What tools do you use to test browser compatibility?

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18 COMMENTS

Rob

The best option i’ve seen for a long time has to be browserstack.com – its recently out of beta and they look to have big plans for the future. check it out

November 18, 2011 Reply

Landon Poburan

I agree, Adobe Browser Lab is fantastic. You can’t beat the fact that it is free.

November 18, 2011 Reply

Michelle

As much as I like BrowserLab, I’m a bit surprised by all the support for static screenshots. We’ve found most of our sites require some level of interaction testing and static testers aren’t good for testing password-protected areas of a site or areas which require session variables, etc. For all these reasons, we first and foremost keep multiple versions of browsers scattered amongst our multiple computers. That’s the method we rely on the most. For older IE, we test with IETester. And we certainly do use BrowserLab for grabbing a bunch of static shots quickly.

November 18, 2011 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Michelle — Good point Michelle. Thanks for adding it!

    November 18, 2011 Reply

      Richard

      Ghostzilla is rellay just a modded FF. It rellay isn’t any faster either – it was just designed so you can “hide” your browsing from someone walking by your computer. Opera does have a built in mail client, note taking software, bittorrent client, a decent news reader (rss/usenet), and a ton of other stuff, but I’ve found that it still launches much faster than FF and even Konq, not to mention the fast render times. It also doesn’t hog memory, even with all these features, like gecko based browsers. I’ve seen that other gecko based browsers, K-Meleon, camino, galeon, etc aren’t much faster than naked FF. Kazehakase is a bit of an exception, Epiphany is also (less so) an exception in my experience. YMMV.BTW, great post, I don’t think I mention how much I appreciate your posts enough. w3m, hv, both very new to me. Great work!  | 

      February 6, 2012 Reply

Ken Hamric

Michelle – at CrossBrowserTesting.com, we support both automatic screenshots and live testing. We find that the screenshots are great to be able to quickly test a design change to make sure it is rendering properly across all browsers. The live testing is essential for testing interactivity, and it necessary (IMO) in order to do any debugging, etc. We are the only service with an automatic screenshot system which is integrated with the live testing (most are one or the other) – you can jump right from a screenshot that is not rendering correctly into a live test of that url, on that browser / OS combo, at that resolution.

BTW, we do handle screenshots of pages behind a user name / password – see http://crossbrowsertesting.com/blog/cross-browser-checks-pages-behind-user-name-password.

November 18, 2011 Reply

    Michelle

    Sounds brilliant! I’ll definitely take a look.

    November 19, 2011 Reply

      Angel

      @Harald – heh, didn’t ralely think about Ghostzilla. Kmeleon is indeed very fast because of the preloader. It was quite a few years since I last tried it though. Also, I was kinda aiming this article at linux so it kinda got left out as a windows only browser.@jambarama – completely forgot about epiphany. Also, I kinda always viewed Opera as on the heavy side seeing how it ships with an email client and all these features. But yeah – it is ralely fast when it comes to rendering pages.And I’m the same way – I have bunch of extensions that make my life much easier but bog down FF a bit. Still, I wouldn’t change them for the world.  | 

      February 7, 2012 Reply

    Ramazan

    Did you mnteion Ghostzilla ? The fastest browser to disapear in you gui ?I did enjoy it a lot. To bad it’s not supported anymore.  | 

    February 6, 2012 Reply

Kevin Menard

If you’re interested in the topic of Web testing, I’ve been stewing over how to improve the state of things for the past couple years. Basically I think we as an industry have gross inefficiencies in the way we test and could benefit immensely from the right type of automation. I’ve been formulating the principles of Web Consistency Testing and finally got a supporting site online at webconsistencytesting.com. With Web Consistency Testing, we can automate the detection of issues across browsers, over time (regressions), cross locale, and basically any other way you could think of comparing two page representations.

November 18, 2011 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Thanks for sharing this Kevin, I will head over and check it out!

    November 20, 2011 Reply

      Kevin Menard

      Thanks. I just added a lot more content with some illustrations of how it works in practice. If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it. You should have my contact info from comment submission.

      November 23, 2011 Reply

Chrissy

With all the comments for BrowserLabs, it looks like I should check it out again. I had a look when it first came out, and I remember it being a bit slow. And referencing Michelle’s comment, it can’t test interactions.

For myself, I develop on a Mac. I use VMWare Fusion, and have a separate Windows VM for each version of IE I need to test. Yes, it is slow and can occasionally be a pain, but in my opinion it is best to test each browser version natively, in the way the users will be seeing the site.

November 22, 2011 Reply

Catherine

The best still vmware w/ ietester

November 28, 2011 Reply

Dave Birch

Browserstack, browserstack, browserstack.

This tool is awesome. I can’t say enough about it. I get to go into IE (not just screenshots of how my page looks in IE; just bad-old, honest to goodness, soul-crushing IE, with their mediocre set of developer and js tools. And I get to dive in just as much as I have to, without all the hassle and setup of having to maintain a windows box for this purpose. Much <3 to browserstack.com

November 28, 2011 Reply

Joe

You might like TestingBot. TestingBot has recently launched and brings a new service where website owners can use Selenium to test their website. TestingBot can test your website on a daily basis based on tests you specified, and alert you when something is wrong.

December 7, 2011 Reply


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