Top Challenges of Cross Browser Testing

In this article, we will talk about the most common challenges faced in cross-browser testing. But, if you’re a beginner to cross-browser testing, then you might want to know about it.

Do you think it’s only the web app interface that provides an excellent user experience to every visitor on your website?

If that’s what you think, then it’s time you introduce yourself to cross-browser compatibility. To your knowledge, there might be only a few browsers that you use to browse a website, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. But, in actuality, there are thousands of web and mobile browsers that are used all around the world, and what’s more interesting is that each browser has different versions that people could use to visit your site.

So, it’s not only the web app interface that makes a website look great to users; the web browser rendering engine also plays a vital role in providing a great user experience to the visitors. But, that doesn’t mean your website will look great on every browser if it performs well on specific browsers because different browsers have different rendering engines and they compute each site differently. And that’s where cross-browser compatibility issues occur.

Therefore, it’s necessary to check the compatibility of your website across different browsers, OS, and devices. For developers, cross-browser compatibility is considered the final step of web app design. But, performing cross-browser testing is not as simple as it seems to be; there are many tasks involved in it and testers face many challenges while executing test cases and ensuring website compatibility across all browsers.

What is Cross Browser Testing?

There are many definitions of cross-browser testing, and all of them make sense based on your opinion and understanding. In my opinion, I believe when you want to make sure that your website or web app is performing properly without any lags across all the targeted browsers, operating systems, and devices – then this process is known as cross-browser testing. In this testing process, you have to check your web app for everything, i.e., from functionality to responsiveness, so when users visit your website, they get the experience that you have always wanted to provide them via your work.

Some people think that they need to test their web app across all combinations of browsers, even if the traffic comes from a specific browser combination. Well, there is nothing wrong with that, but tell me one thing – why do you want to go through the hassle of testing a site across those browsers and versions that users don’t even use to visit your app?

There are already enough challenges and issues involved in cross-browser testing that make it hard for developers to test their web app across a selective combination of browsers, operating systems, and devices. Therefore, testing the site across browsers that are not of any benefit will make it even harder for you, as you’ll have to write different test scripts for them.

Challenges Involved in Cross-Browser Testing

We all want to avoid the hard work to get success, but it’s only the hard work that gives us victory in the end. Similarly, just running test scripts over multiple channels doesn’t provide accurate cross-browser compatibility, you have to face multiple challenges and then overcome those challenges to ensure that your web app works great across all browsers, operating systems, and devices.

There are various challenges and issues involved in cross-browser testing, but three major and common challenges often create greater problems for developers. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Three Major Challenges in cross-browser Testing

We all face difficulties in solving problems, but some issues often require too much effort to be resolved. The three challenges mentioned below are among those problems that make cross-browser compatibility testing difficult for developers.

1. Multiple Browsers, their Versions, and OS combination

If you have the mindset of creating a web app once and then running it everywhere because if it works well in one browser, it will work everywhere as HTML and CSS are standardized, then it’s time you change your approach. Every vendor designs their browser application in a sophisticated manner with its own behaviors, distinctive features, quirks, and bugs to make it better for the user, thus, allowing it to render web pages differently.

Difficult to understand in this way? Let’s make it easier for you with an example.

Consider that your development team takes Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer as the targeted browsers and Windows, Linux, and macOS as the operating systems for testing the cross-browser compatibility of your web app. If you’re a beginner to cross-browser testing, you might consider the testing combination as:

  • Windows: 5 browsers
  • macOS: 4 browsers
  • Linux: 3 browsers

That makes a total of 11 browsers for testing. To some point, it is actually easy to test your web app across this combination. Now, assuming that most people often update their browser automatically, we are considering only the latest versions of the browser with the latest operating systems, so the combination of the testing will look alike:

  • Windows 8: 5 browsers
  • Windows 8.1: 5 browsers
  • Windows 10: 5 browsers
  • macOS High Sierra: 4 browsers
  • OS X EI Capitan: 4 browsers
  • OS X macOS Sierra: 4 browsers
  • Ubuntu 17.10: 3 browsers
  • Ubuntu 17.04: 3 browsers
  • Ubuntu 18.04: 3 browsers

So, it becomes a combination of 36, which is a substantial list for most web app teams. But, if we add the 32-bit operating systems and some other versions of browsers, the list will keep extending, which will make it a major challenge for the testing team to test the web app. So, you can see how difficult it is to keep up with the multiple combinations of browsers, operating systems, and devices.

2. Continuous Browser Updates

Another major challenge for the development team that is hard to face is constant browser updates. As we all know, many vendors keep updating their browsers to stay ahead of their competitors and meet customer expectations. Also, the automatic updates of browsers have made it harder for the testing team to keep up with the cross-browser testing. For example, Mozilla Firefox updates their browser every 8 weeks, and most users don’t even realize that their browser has been updated.

With every update, there come new features, functionalities, bugs, and quirks. So, if you’re planning to test two browsers, make sure you update your browser suite and reset it every 4-6 weeks. Reading this scenario, only developers and testers can understand that it is no less than a nightmare. However, if you find an effective method or tool to automate the cross-browser testing, then it will be easier for you.

3. Automation is not as easy as it seems to be

Even if you’re willing to automate your cross-browser testing, it is necessary to know that it’s not that simple to implement it, especially if you have never automated cross-browser testing before. In your mind, you might be thinking automation is just about testing early, testing often, taking shortcuts, rinse, and repeating – but, the truth of automated cross-browser testing is something that will make you sober quickly.

The first and most crucial step for automated cross-browser testing is choosing an automation tool. Browser test automation focuses on testing web page functionality, which can be achieved via Selenium or LambdaTest, but it requires patience, effort, and proper attention to detail to do it properly. Also, you’ll have to work a lot to set the environment for these platforms on your system to run your automation scripts and achieve your desired results.

Most organizations still don’t consider automation testing a viable approach, but it is included with multiple benefits that can make the entire cross-browser testing process easier. Manual testing is also a good option as long as you’re testing a few browsers and operating systems.

But, if you go for automation testing, you have to make sure that the automation tool you choose has a reliable browser version inventory on its server, is integrated with all the latest features of the browser, and always stays up-to-date with the newest browser updates from all vendors. For example, if you choose LambdaTest for cross-browser testing, then it assures you to meet all the core capabilities of your testing requirements.

Common issues involved in cross-browser testing

After knowing the significant challenges in cross-browser testing, you might also want to know the common issues that are often encountered by the testing teams. So, take a look at the below points:

1. Parallel testing of the browsers

Parallel testing is a common task executed for cross-browser testing of a web app to test different browsers parallelly. It offers the ability to test a combination of multiple browser-version-OS simultaneously for your website. What makes parallel testing more beneficial is that you can execute various tests in a shorter time for all the targeted browsers and OS at one time, instead of running different tests for a different combination. 

But, parallel testing is not as simple as it seems, especially if you’re using a standard approach for it. However, using the parallelization feature of LambdaTest, you can make this task easier for you. With LambdaTest parallel testing, you’ll be able to find the inevitable bugs more quickly, allowing your team to fix those errors faster.

2. DOCTYPE Error

Doc Type

Have you ever faced a situation in which you wrote the entire code, but when you run it, an error pops up on your screen?

If yes! Then you’re very well aware of the DOCTYPE Error. It is the most basic line of every code, missing which can lead to faulty rendering. The DOCTYPE is always included in the first line of the HTML code to create a smoothly rendered website. If it is not included in the HTML, then browsers like Internet Explorer often display many browser errors during cross-browser testing. For example, it can deter web pages from loading correctly in the browser. So, if any browser behaves in a different way, check the DOCTYPE in your HTML, it is one of the best ways to avoid browser compatibility issues.

3. Invalid HTML and CSS


As mentioned earlier, every browser renders a website differently, which means HTML and CSS are also decoded differently for different browsers, so even a missing <div> in the code can bring errors in browser compatibility. Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Safari automatically add the <div> class to the code if it is unavailable, but other browsers don’t provide this functionality, which becomes a typical challenge for testers. So, it is recommended to check the code properly.

To solve the problem quickly, you can get help from W3C validators who will verify and validate your code for HTML and CSS.

4. Older Browser Detection

Browsers are not the only technology that keeps updating themselves with time; JavaScript codes also upgrade themselves accordingly. No matter which application you have designed, it will have some part of JavaScript in it, which offers great features for the browsers. Sometimes, cross-browser compatibility issues occur when browsers are unable to detect the older version of JavaScript.

Modern browser updates themselves with new quirks and functionalities, so they don’t support older JavaScript, which can make it difficult for the browser to load pages. Also, if the browser detection is outdated, it will not support the latest JavaScript code for your app. Thus, it is necessary to verify the browser detection is up-to-date, and if it’s possible, then try to remove the detection feature.

5. Nonexistence of CSS Reset

If you know that every browser comes with its own set of internal, basic CSS styles, which are applied to the application if the website doesn’t override them, then you might understand that the absence of CSS styles can create a bigger problem in cross-browser compatibility testing.

Every browser renders web pages according to their rendering engine if the pages lack any CSS style of their own, which can create problems for web pages to display properly. So, to avoid any such scenario, it is highly recommended to use a CSS reset style sheet in your web pages to ensure that every browser renders your web app with the same set of rules.

6. Vendor-Specific CSS Style

Modern web browsers often don’t display their updated CSS functionality and keep it behind vendor-specific CSS style. Thus, when the vendor-specific style is established, the browser vendor removes the vendor-specific version or adds an altered version without the vendor prefix. Therefore, you have to make sure that your code works well in all browsers, which can be achieved by adding the unprefixed version with the prefixed one so that the browsers pick both versions. The most common vendor prefixes are:

  • -moz for Mozilla Firefox
  • -Webkit for Safari and Chrome
  • -ms for Microsoft (IE)
  • -o for Opera browser

7. Layout Compatibility Issue

Layout Compatibility

As described in the earlier section, every browser has its own layout styling, which they apply to web pages. However, developers use CSS Reset to implement their own design and remove the default design of the browser. Doing this often results in cross-browser compatibility issues for testers. The reason behind this issue could be an unresponsive design on mobile devices or a lack of support by the latest browser versions.

Earlier, it was not that simple to resolve these errors, but it is easy now. What you can do is use floats that are supported by modern browsers, but keep in mind that a float is a floating image that comes with limitations.

However, there are some other solutions also available, such as CSS grids and Flexbox layout mechanisms that are supported by modern browsers to fix the layout compatibility issues.

According to our knowledge, these are the most common challenges faced by most web teams during cross-browser compatibility testing. But, when you start working with it, you’ll encounter many other small errors that you might have never heard of. So, how can we overcome these challenges? What is the accurate solution to fix these errors?

Most of the challenges like a combination of browser-versions-OS, continuous updates of browsers, layout compatibility, and parallel testing can be resolved by automating cross-browser testing. Though it’s not quite simple to automate cross-browser testing of your web app, using a cloud-based platform like LambdaTest that allows you to run your tests on Selenium Grid, can be achieved in the most efficient manner.


In the end, we cannot deny the fact that cross-browser testing is an important process for every web app or website’s success, whether it’s an e-commerce site or an online web portal. And those who avoid cross-browser testing even in this competitive market might lose their users or earn less revenue. We understand that cross-browser testing is not easy to implement due to the above challenges; that’s why we tried to cover the most accurate solutions to overcome these challenges in this article. Hope it will be helpful for you, in case if you have any queries or questions, then get in touch with the technical team at LambdaTest.

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Top Challenges of Cross Browser Testing – FAQs

Why did some test execution fail when working with different browsers that were successful using another browser?

Since web browsers are developed by different companies and have distinct rendering engines, they may interpret HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code differently.

Can we automate cross-browsing testing?

In contrast to manual testing, automated cross-browser testing is quicker and more practical because test scripts are created and run automatically using technologies like Selenium, which compares the outcomes to what was expected.

What are cross-browser issues?

This can lead to cross-browser compatibility issues which can have two underlying reasons. It could be because of a lack of support for some layouts by modern browsers and/or their versions, or because of a non-responsive design, resulting in a webpage that isn’t a usable or readable version.

Can cross-browser testing be done manually?

Teams can do cross-browser testing manually, noting changes in functionality on different web clients or manually executing test scripts on other clients.

What is the opposite of functional testing?

Non-functional testing refers to testing properties that do not impact the application functionality, but contribute to the overall user experience.

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