How Device-Browser Fragmentation can affect your Website Business
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - October 23, 2020
Let’s begin by addressing the most fundamental question.
What is Fragmentation?
In layman’s terms, fragmentation refers to the variety of devices, browsers, and platforms in use at any given point in time. For example, a website can be accessed from multiple devices such as mobile, laptops, desktops, or tablets. These devices carry unique screen sizes, operating systems, and browsers.
Additionally, each browser and operating system exist in multiple versions – latest and legacy; which adds to the complexity.
For example, there are thousands of handsets powered by the Android operating system. Given that Android has multiple versions, it would be safe to assume that the same device model is running multiple Android versions (OS fragmentation) by different users across the world. This makes a highly fragmented landscape inevitable.
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Why is Fragmentation a problem for online businesses?
The diversity in devices, browsers, and operating systems (including their unique versions) breeds a lack of interoperability. The differences within device-browser-OS combinations make it extremely difficult for businesses to deliver a uniform user experience across all combinations. This is mainly because the same batch of code may, and often does behave differently on disparate device-browser combinations.
For example, an e-commerce website may perfectly render on Chrome for Samsung S20, but may encounter issues in rendering for an iPad user browsing on Safari. This happens primarily due to OS version-specific bugs or compatibility issues.
This leads to inconsistencies in user experience, particularly for customers visiting a site from multiple platforms. These inconsistencies may force certain customers to bounce and lead to loss of traffic and potential revenue.
Let’s consider another example for greater clarity.
Considering the current mobile OS market share, let’s assume that the website is well optimized for the Android platform as it is the market leader with almost 75% market share. However, the same website is not capable of delivering user-friendly performance for customers coming from the latest or legacy versions of iOS. This means businesses are potentially losing out on revenue from approximately 25% of their customers.
The same scenario applies to the browser landscape. People use different types and versions of browsers. However, it won’t be ideal for teams to optimize their website just for Chrome and Safari (accounting for about 82% of the overall browser market share). This is because they will still be losing out on potential revenue from 15% of customers coming through other browsers like Samsung Internet, Firefox, etc.
Refer to this detailed blog on fragmentation & compatibility that explains why one must prioritize the cross browser compatibility of a website.
The image below represents the recent stats of global browser fragmentation:
For businesses to capitalize on their digital presence, providing a truly inclusive web experience across maximum device-browser-OS combinations is mandatory.
What’s the Solution?
There are more than 63,000 device profiles, and fragmentation continues to grow at about 20%. Obviously, testing on all device-browser combinations is not a feasible solution.
The best way to deal with this problem is to ensure that websites are tested on the most widely used devices, browsers, and platforms.
To know how one can optimize websites for 70-80% of overall global coverage, refer to this detailed fragmentation blog. It will also help with determining the platforms, device-browser combinations, and resolutions to be prioritized when testing for compatibility.
Testing on popular device-browser-OS combinations requires a comprehensive test infrastructure. Here’s where a key concern arises for testing teams regarding economic feasibility. It is not feasible for all organizations to set up on-premise device labs. Setting up such a device lab demands significant financial investment. Additionally, maintaining and updating the lab with the latest devices at regular intervals can be fairly challenging.
In light of these challenges, testing teams often look towards adopting cloud-based testing infrastructure. This lets them gain all the functions of a real device lab without having to invest any of the efforts.
BrowserStack provides teams and individuals with the ideal infrastructure for testing in real-world conditions. Its real device cloud offers 2000+ real devices and browsers for manual and automated testing in mobile and desktop environments.
At a high level, BrowserStack’s cloud infrastructure offers:
- All types of real devices – mobiles, tablets, desktops
- Leading platforms like Android, iOS (for mobile devices), and Windows, macOS (for desktops)
- Popular browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, and others, including latest and legacy browser versions
- Mobile devices from popular vendors such as Samsung, Apple, OnePlus, Google, Motorola, etc.
As every device is securely hosted on cloud servers, one need not worry about configuring any devices. Teams also save on maintenance expenses.
Sign up for Free, choose the desired platform-device-browser combination, and start testing.
With the constant rise in the number of devices and browser versions, fragmentation continues to be a fixture in the digital landscape. Businesses with a digital presence must be prepared for a highly fragmented ecosystem by developing robust web-applications that work flawlessly across devices, browsers, and platforms.