The Mobile Web is Broken, But it Can Be Fixed
You’re browsing on your smartphone when you see a great deal for airline tickets. You click the link to nab them, but the airline’s site crashes. You finally find that rare pair of sneaks, but the site’s shopping cart won’t work on your iPhone. Broken mobile sites are all too common, despite incredible growth in smartphones and mobile devices. Why? Developers simply don’t test their mobile sites as much as they test on desktop. That’s why Mozilla (makers of the world’s last independent browser Firefox) has partnered with testing platform BrowserStack to make the mobile Web a better and more accessible place for everyone.
Mobile browsing is blowing up. According to Cisco’s latest online traffic study, global mobile Almost half a billion (429 million) mobile devices and connections were added in 2016 — most of those were smartphones. Global mobile devices and connections in 2016 grew to 8.0 billion, up from 7.6 billion in 2015. In 2016, the typical smartphone generated 48 times more mobile data traffic (1,614 MB per month) than the typical basic-feature cell phone (which generated only 33 MB per month of mobile data traffic).
People are spending a ton of time on their smartphones, but it also seems that they’re not spending ton of money shopping on their smartphones. According to comScore and Business Insider, In the second quarter of 2015, U.S. adults spent 59% of their time on mobile and 41% on desktop. But they only made 15% of their purchases on mobile devices.
There are some real, physical reasons why people don’t use their phones to shop online. First, small screen size makes it difficult or frustrating to shop and enter payment details. Mobile users also have to contend with shoddy Internet connections. Still, both of these problems can be overcome with well-made mobile sites that are thoroughly tested. At the very least, mobile sites should be optimized for smaller touch screens and slower connections.
Most developers test their sites manually on a handful of browsers and devices, but it’s difficult to test on every combo — they simply don’t have access to the every device on the planet and building a test lab just isn’t practical or cost effective. BrowserStack Live lets developers test sites on thousands of real devices. Their lab has the latest mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, and Windows Phone.
Here’s how it works: Log in to BrowserStack Live, pick your device/browser combo, then load your site. You can click through your site or web app to identify bugs or design flaws, then pinpoint and fix them using your browser’s developer tools. It’s a quick and easy way to expand your browser testing beyond the browsers on your work machine.
BrowserStack also offers advanced automated testing. BrowserStack Automate lets developers run Selenium tests on multiple virtual machines simultaneously. Write an automated test, connect to the BrowserStack cloud, and test sites against virtual machines and devices in minutes. Test results, including screenshots and movies, are logged in a BrowserStack account. Automated testing can eliminate errors and deliver consistent data about performance and failures.
Cross-browser testing is crucial for developers. If your site is broken in just one browser/OS combo, it could cost thousands and ruin your client relationships. And while it may be tempting to simply test your sites in your dev machine’s browser and call it good, you could easily miss a bug or design quirk that could affect millions of users.