How to Perform Mobile Website Testing
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - February 12, 2021
Mobile website testing as the term suggests, refers to the act of testing websites or web applications across numerous mobile browsers. It essentially helps in verifying the performance and appearance of a web app across different mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.
This guidepost aims to explain why it is critical for businesses to perform mobile web testing. Subsequently, it will also illustrate three different methods to conduct mobile web testing.
Why Mobile Website Testing Matters for Businesses?
Let’s begin by going through some key statistics:
- Individuals tend to check their phones on an average of 58 times a day.
- The number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to hit more than 7.5 billion by the end of 2026.
- Smartphone users tend to spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones.
- Millennials spend more than 5 hours on their smartphones per day.
The numbers above clearly reveal how smartphones have become an inseparable part of human life. An increase in mobile usage has also led to heightened user expectations as they expect everything to be easily accessible through their smartphones.
For individuals and businesses (of any size) seeking to establish their digital presence, this translates to having websites that are well optimized for smartphones of widely different make and models. In simple terms, for a website to reach a broader audience, it needs to undergo mobile web testing to deliver a flawless mobile experience.
Benefits of Mobile Website Testing.
Mobile web testing also endows development teams with the following benefits:
- Enables teams to test and optimize their websites for multiple mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, Samsung Internet, etc.
- Allows developers to evaluate how a website renders on mobile browsers installed on unique operating systems like Android and iOS. This helps in ensuring that there are no compatibility issues for the target device-browser-OS combination.
- Optimizing websites for mobile devices increases the overall user-friendliness of a website. Additionally, it helps achieve higher rankings on search engines as Google considers mobile-friendliness a ranking factor. This results in better visibility of web pages.
At a high level, mobile web testing helps create websites that are faster and mobile responsive. These websites deliver enriched user experiences across a wide range of mobile devices.
How to Perform Mobile Website Testing
Now let’s study three intuitive methods to perform mobile web testing.
Method 1: Using Mobile Emulation in Chrome
One can view or test the mobile version of websites using the DevTools for mobile emulation. To view the mobile version of a website on Chrome, follow the steps below:
- Launch Chrome and navigate to the website to be tested on mobile.
- Open the Developer Tools available in Settings -> More Tools -> Developer Tools. macOS users can use the shortcut fn + f12. Windows users can use Control + Shift + J.
- Select the Device Toggle Bar.
- Select the device to be emulated from the available list of Android and iOS devices.
- Once done, it will display the mobile version of that website on the selected device. One can also inspect specific web elements in the mobile view using the Inspect feature besides the Device Toggle bar. Refer to the image below for clarity:
Note: This method only simulates standard viewports in the Chrome browser. However, it is not the most accurate way to test the mobile version of a website, as it is just a device simulation. It cannot simulate all aspects of a real mobile device.
Method 2: Using BrowserStack’s Real Device Cloud for Live Mobile Website Testing on Real Android and iOS Devices
The most effective and accurate way of running mobile web tests is to test them on real devices. This helps developers and testers evaluate how a website behaves in mobile browsers installed on actual Android or iOS smartphones.
With 2000+ real devices and browsers, BrowserStack’s real device cloud provides QA teams with the ideal testing infrastructure for comprehensive mobile web testing.
The real device cloud offers:
- Latest and legacy versions of real Android smartphones from vendors like Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, etc.
- Latest and legacy handsets by Apple like iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPad, iPhone 6, etc.
- Support for multiple versions of popular mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.
- DevTools for Chrome and Safari for accurate inspection of web elements.
To get started with live web testing on real mobile devices, follow the steps below:
- Signup for a free trial on BrowserStack Live.
- Once done, choose the OS (Android, iOS) and the desired handset. The image below represents the Live Dashboard, where one can select the desired OS and device-browser combination.
The image above represents a Live mobile website testing session on Chrome running on Samsung S20+.
Developers and QA also get access to many valuable features. Listed below are a few:
- Instant access to DevTools for inspection of target web elements.
- Network throttling to simulate the performance of web pages in poor network conditions.
- One can verify whether the website delivers location-specific results using Geo-location Testing.
- Integrations with popular bug reporting tools like Jira, Slack, etc, as well as CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, Maven, etc.
This method of mobile web testing is the easiest and most convenient as team members get instant access to a wide range of real devices directly from their browsers without any complex setup. Additionally, the device cloud is updated at regular intervals, which makes the latest devices available 24×7 for on-demand testing.
Method 3: Using BrowserStack’s Responsive Checker Tool
The web is highly fragmented into thousands of device types and browser versions. Consequently, having a responsive website is mandatory for any business in 2021 and beyond. This is why responsive web design is of utmost importance for businesses to grow in the digital world.
BrowserStack’s Responsive Checker is a free tool that allows individuals and teams to test how their website renders across a wide range of devices, including popular ones like iPhone X, Galaxy Note 10, iPad Pro, etc. This helps identify any rendering bugs or inconsistencies in the viewing experience across devices.
The tool is extremely intuitive to use. One simply needs to enter the URL of the target website and then click on the Check button. Once done, the website is loaded across various devices with unique screen resolutions, and users can click on the desired device to verify if the web page renders correctly.
Few Best Practices to Consider for Mobile Web Testing
- Always prefer testing websites on real mobile browsers for getting accurate test results.
- Test the mobile website in different network conditions to optimize its performance for every user using distinct bandwidths.
- Perform Geo-location testing for the website to ensure it delivers accurate results when accessed from different locations on mobile devices
- Check for the most commonly appearing UI bugs and fix them to the earliest if any.
- Test the website across the devices with the most popular screen sizes.
- Test the website for the most commonly used browsers by your target audience (like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.).
As mentioned earlier, the proliferation of mobile devices will continue in the future. Businesses have no choice but to optimize their websites for mobile platforms in order to cater to the largest possible audience.
The methods highlighted above will make it convenient for developers and QAs to identify bugs for their websites’ mobile versions. It will keep mobile websites bug-free, implement positive user experiences and retain a competitive edge in a constantly shifting domain.