Testing your WordPress theme across different browsers can be a daunting task. You may have the latest versions of most of the most-used browsers on your computer, however it is worth testing previous versions too.
Traditionally you would have to use a different installation of an operating system on a virtual machine or another computer in order to test; these were inconvenient methods. There are now other methods to test different browsers effortlessly.
In recent years there have been web-based services set up to let developers and designers do cross-browser testing quickly and efficiently. Some of these services are effectively screenshots of your website across different browsers, however some others work like virtual machines.
These services are generally free, however some will offer a paid membership which will guarantee you a quicker and better service. Below are some of the free services.
Adobe Browserlab (Free)
Browserlab is a free service provided by Adobe that allows users to live-test their website on various modern and old browsers and across Windows and Mac OS. Browserlab works like a virtual machine. A split-screen mode is available so that users can compare their website on different browsers. The list of available browsers are however limited only to the latest version of Chrome, Firefox (on both Windows and Mac OS), Safari, and the four latest versions of Internet Explorer.
On average it took around 20 seconds to load the WPMU.org homepage.
Browsershots (Free & paid)
Browsershots takes screenshots of your website and allows you to download medium-sized images of the results. The results, however, only show the top portion of the website depending on the preset resolution size of the browser. The list of available browsers is enormous (164 versions of browsers across three operating systems) and even includes the little-used and little-known ones like Avant and Flock.
Browsershots provides both a free and paid service, however the free service is quite slow and there’s a limit on how many screenshots you can request in a day. The paid version is $29.95 or €23.95 per month and is much quicker, you will be able to get 30 to 50 screenshots in two to five minutes.
Requesting screenshots from the four latest IE browsers took 15 minutes on average.
Browserling (Free and paid)
Browserling allows users to live-test old and recent versions of the five most-used browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera) however you can only view one browser at a time. It works like Browserlab, however you are restricted to one virtual machine per session. Users will also be able to change browser resolution.
Unregistered users will be able to view their website for a maximum of three minutes, after that the user will have to refresh the session. Registered users will be able to view their website for a maximum of five minutes. Their paid plans range from $20 per month to $250 per month depending on the usage required. IE6, IE7 and IE8 are restricted to paid users.
On average it took around 10 seconds to load the WPMU.org homepage.
IETester is a free IE browser-testing application which runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7. It allows users to test their website across IE5.5 to IE10. IETester is useful because Windows does not allow multiple versions of IE on the same installation of the operating system. Unfortunately IETester does not run on Mac OS, however it can be run through a virtual machine.
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Saucelabs (Free and paid)
Saucelabs is a service that allows users to live-test their website and works like Browserling, however Saucelabs includes additional features such as being able video-record your sessions for debugging.
Free accounts include 45 of test minutes per month. Premium version range from $29 to $279 and will give users unlimited test minutes.
On average it took around 30 seconds to load the WPMU.org homepage.
Browsera (Free and paid)
Their free account allows 25 tests per month with Firefox 3.6 and 7, and IE7 and IE8, however more browsers can be unlocked by subscribing to their paid service. Their paid service range from $39/14 days to $99/month.
On average it took around two minutes to load the WPMU.org homepage.
If your website has a mobile version, you may want to check how it’ll look like on the iPhone with TestiPhone.
On average it took around 5 seconds to load the WPMU.org homepage.
There are many tools out there to help you with cross-browser checking. Check each one of them to see if you would be comfortable with using it continuously as it’s important to test your design early; there’s nothing worse than working for days on a theme that looks perfect on one browser only to find that it’s completely messy on another.
Do you use any of the services listed above? If not, let us know how you perform cross-browser checks and which ones you find most useful.
Featured Image courtesy of gui.tavares