Testing a Responsive Website: Top Challenges & Solutions

In the vast chronicle of web development history, there was a time when we had only two approaches for website formatting available : a liquid site that would outstretch itself to fill the browser window, or a fixed width site, which would be confined in its pixel size. And both of these were far from ideal. 

These options limited the webpages’ perfection to the designer’s system only. The first one prompted a compressed design on smaller screens and an unreadably long sentence length on the larger ones. As for the latter, it was inevitably accompanied by a horizontal scrollbar on screens smaller as compared to the site’s inherent width and displayed lots of white space at the edges of the design on bigger screens.

Obviously, an upgrade was essential. Over the course of time, many strategies came forth. One of them was responsive web design. The responsive design amalgamated three methodologies; fluid grids (using floats), fluid images (scalability by setting the max-width property to 100%), and media query (using modern CSS). 

One thing to be acknowledged here is that responsive web design is not some independent class of technology — it is simply a set of web designing protocols for creating a framework susceptible to every device it would be viewed on.

Today it is way easier to develop responsive designs using the new age tools. However, responsive web design testing can still be a tough nut to crack. 

An effective website needs the designer to heed numerous factors (such as the screen resolution, size, readability, and navigability of the website). Even though a responsive website resolves most of these challenges, it comes with its own pair of difficulties. Like testing it. 

This article discusses the various hassles coming in the way of responsive design testing along with relevant measures to curb the same.

Let us begin!

  • The volatility of the testing environment 

The inundation of devices in the market presents the first challenge. For instance, a desktop monitor with the resolution of 1920×1080 pixels is a totally different game than an iPhone6’s 5.5-inch Retina 960×1704 screen. And our job is to ensure our website’s unvarying flow on both. That’s what we examine. This becomes tricky because of the availability of various devices running on different platforms and the frequent new additions to the list as well.

So what should be the appropriate approach in this case? Accumulating all devices and resolutions would neither be practical nor possible. Therefore, we need a few tactics: 

  • Sort out your target audience. Research just a section of people that would be interested in what you have to offer, and find out what their device and resolution preferences are.
  • Use Google Analytics to distinguish what type of devices, which OS and browsers your website should focus on to attract the most traffic.
  • Deduce the performance on many platforms from rendition on one. To elaborate, if your website runs flawlessly on a particular android device, then it is highly likely it’ll be as fine on the similar ones. 

Testing and amending your website to fit all browsers homogeneously is what it takes to please the audience and popularize the associated brand. Try LambdaTest, a cloud based, cross browser testing tool. Its magnificent array of all the popular and legacy browsers and OS is exactly what you need to make your website multi-platform ready. Utilise a multitude of device options alongside admirable complementary features like screenshot testing, automated and manual testing, integrated debugging etc, and leave no stone unturned to ensure your website’s excellence. 

  • Managing and maintaining the navigation menu

The navigation menu is the guideline on how the website must be explored. It directs us for efficient website traversing. So if the navigation menu gets altered when shifting from the desktop version to the mobile one, it is surely going to irk the users. The layout must remain consistent for every platform and screen size as not to baffle the visitors. 

Knowledge of the composition and placement of the website’s data and information will aid you in developing an intelligible navigation system. Additionally, testing across multiple platforms gives the overview of the display.

  • Ambiguously different features

As stated earlier, the very point for choosing a responsive design is for it to adapt to every screen size it encounters, depicting the website accordingly. Ergo this gives rise to multiple versions for the tester to verify. The desktop specific surfing manners mostly become inapt on a mobile device, and vice versa. There are differences among mobile devices as well. 

For instance, mouse-hover on desktops gets replaced by tap on mobile devices; mouse scroll or page-up/down become swipe gestures; disparate navigation menus & unalike pixel densities for different mobile devices; image scaling etc.

Such diversity calls for the creation of distinct test suites. Comprehension of the interaction stratagems of the different platforms determine the testing roadmap. The tester must also be well informed about the designing approach. When the tester accurately recognises when to adhere which test case, that’s when the evaluation becomes successful. 

  • The astute utilisation of manual and automation testing 

Nothing can compare to testing websites on real devices. And when it comes to simplifying the task of performance evaluation on every device, automation is the go-to approach. Automation employs machines (i.e computers) to test each and every functionality of a website on all the OS and browsers under consideration. In order to carry this out properly, we need an automation framework: the assemblage of tools and processes (like libraries, test data, and various reusable modules) working together to succour automated testing of any application. 

Even though responsive testing frameworks can assist in inspecting a website’s functionality on a high level, yet they fail to point out what ISN’T working and why. All thanks to their rigid set of verification points/breakpoints. 

That’s when we require manual testing. Manual testing is kind of a human touch to testing. Testers view the application by keeping a public perspective to craft the best possible user experience. 

All you have to do is carefully pick the moments suited for automation and manual testing. Automation handles the long, tedious and more complicated assessment while manual testing makes the website relevantly user friendly, and saves time by doing comparatively minute evaluations that would have taken more time and effort through automation. 

  • Sluggish loading

What happens when your diligently built website is too long to load? Unfortunately, the visitor clicks off of your website and moves on to the next with better loading speed. The user didn’t get to know about your business’s eminence and your calibre, just because your website was late to appear on the user’s screen.

Slow loading websites are irksome and thus, get ignored the most. And due to their heavy content, responsive websites take so much time to load which can lead to getting clicked off. 

There’s a quick fix for this too. Go for conditional loading. It is the fast loading of selected items on the screen that are enough to convey your services to the users. The rest of the pictures, text, video, documents, etc can follow up one by one, enhancing the experience. 

A responsive website offers a coherent user experience, improvises SEO efforts and cheapens web maintenance. However, all this is lucrative only if the website is nearly perfect in its rendition. Hence, always opt for rigorous testing. Aside from sophisticated testing tools, pioneer strategies are also necessary for testing responsive designs. The suggestions mentioned in the article are some of the points you need to keep in mind while testing your responsive site. As for the tools, give a shot to Lambdatest. 

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