A proposal to re-prioritize your tasks
To get everyone on the same page:
Cross browser testing refers to the act of testing a page on multiple platforms and browsers. (IOS/Safari, Android/Chrome, Android/Samsung, Windows/IE11, Windows/Edge, etc…)
It’s performed to make sure the website performs as designed regardless how you access is.
Accessibility refers to a quality that makes an experience open to all (Yes I’ve stolen this from microsoft)
When building for accessibility you to start in the design process and continue in implementation to build something that can be experienced regardless of your circumstances.
Why cross browser testing exists
And maybe you’re already knowing where I’m going with this.
The short story is: Once upon a time there were a few browsers and every other year a different browser was the most used one. (Legend says it was the browser wars)
When internet explorer being the most used one Microsoft started implementing things for their own purposes which were not part of the spec.
Sometimes later Firefox took and was quickly picked up by designers and developers. Oh the struggle was real when you noticed your client is still on internet explorer.
A few years later chrome took over and google also implemented some features for their own intentions.
If you want to learn more about this from someone who is actually fighting for compatibility I’d recommend to listen to Olas talk.
I will not go into the discussion of implementing things for own purposes, that’s a whole other topic.
Fact is: it happened, it still happens today and there are certain things we do to build websites that just don’t work everywhere. To make sure we still e.g. provide a fancy paralax scrolling jack to all the Internet Explorer users we have to put in some time.
Why Accessibility exists
My rough answer: Because we as a species suck at taking care of non normative individual human beings.
An example from outside web development:
Think about building a house.
Now think about building a house for someone who has a child in a stroller.
Now think about building a house for someone who sits in a wheelchair.
I’d bet your house changed according to the different requirements.
That’s okay (unless you build houses) because our brains are not designed to care about things we don’t emphasize.
As I said: we’re not good at building things so they are accessible for everyone. That’s why we need accessibility.
Time spent vs Value added
Technology and it’s consumption moves at an incredible pace. It’s only a matter of time until Microsoft will stop to support older windows versions which will result in abandoning Internet Explorer.
Mozilla is doing a great job fighting for web compatibility and today browser vendors are getting better at implementing and improving the spec. In fact it even happened that within a month all major browsers supported a new feature (css grid yey).
It’s absolute certain that time spent in cross browser debugging will loose it’s value at some point.
On the other hand: building something so it is accessible will increase it’s value with time. We all will be old one day and our eyes will loose their skills and our motoric skills will start to develop flaws. We will be the ones who struggle with this fancy thin line Helvetica inside a 0.5cm wide button.
What I’m saying is: if cross-browser testing & debugging is an essential step in your process but accessibility isn’t you should talk with your product owner, stakeholder, cto, team or yourself to rethink your perspective on value added.
thanks for reading ❤
I’d appreciate feedback.
Let me know if you liked this or if you disagree or if you want to know anything else.
I’m Lasse. A independent web something. I help people to achieve their goals in the web.
I try to improve myself and others in regards of diversity, accessibility and overall human decancy.
You can find me on twitter and everywhere else as lassediercks