Today I updated my iPhone 4 to the new iOS 6 operating system. It has lots of new features which I’ve just started to play with, including a new version of Safari, Apple’s mobile web browser. What does this have to do with portals? Keep reading.
One of my clients just recently (yesterday – the same day iOS6 became available) rolled out a new mobile web version of their portal. They are really excited because they have been behind their competitors in this area and have taken some hits from clients about the lack of a mobile site. The new mobile site should bring them to parity with many of their competitors. The mobile version looks very nice and mobile friendly. (We didn’t build the site for them – they did it internally.)
Since I was excited for them, I thought I’d give the new mobile site a test drive on my iPhone. Well, I ran into several problems right away. That was odd, because the site is brand new – surely they had tested it on the iPhone. I sent them an email explaining the issues I encountered to see if maybe it was just me. Yes, they had tested in the iPhone and could not duplicate the problems I encountered.
Then I thought, maybe the problem is because of the new Safari browser. So I tried the site on another iPhone that had not been upgraded. Yes, it worked fine on that iPhone. So I tried it using Chrome on my iPhone. Sure enough it worked fine on my mobile version of Chrome.
So, Safari in iOS6 was doing something different than it did in previous versions. Interesting. I relayed my findings on to my client and hopefully they will figure out the issue and update their mobile site quickly.
But this experience raises a good point about testing.
When testing your public sites, its not good enough to test on several desktop browsers any longer. Nor is it acceptable to test on a few mobile browsers. In order to for you to create a great site, you have to test and make your site compatible with existing browsers for desktops, tablets, phones, etc, AND YOU MUST BE TESTING BETA VERSIONS OF THOSE BROWSERS TOO. If you forget to test beta versions of these browsers and devices, you may be surprised too when the latest version of browser comes out.
I’m sure the best web site developers understand this point, however, many people do not. When discussing cross-browser testing strategies with my client, their strategy was to test every other internal release against two browsers at a time. So for the first release, they’d test on IE and Firefox. For release two, it was Chrome and Safari. They figured that they would cover all the browsers by the time a new feature made it to production.
When asked why not do all browsers at the same time, they claimed that funding issues limited them to this approach. Yes, it is expensive to run the right kind of testing process because of all the various browsers and devices. As shown by my story above, their strategy would probably result in a failure. If you don’t take the right approach and put in the right effort, your site visitors and your reputation will surely suffer.