March 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

eBags uses service to ensure its site renders properly with new browsers

Web-based testing from Gomez covers 8% more traffic than eBags’ manual system while cutting costs.

With consumers accessing e-commerce sites through a growing variety of browser and operating system combinations, a web page may display differently depending on the technology the consumer is using to view it. But by using a screen capture testing service from Gomez to see how pages look in different browser/operating system combinations, eBags.com says it can now test how its pages render for about 98% of consumers.

Mike Frazzini, vice president of technology at eBags, says the service covers about 8% more of its traffic than did the retailer’s former manual testing process. EBags has been using vendor Gomez Inc.’s Reality View XF since August to test more than 50 browser and operating system combinations. Frazzini estimates that the outsourced, automated tool is saving it more than 50% in staff and fees versus reproducing the combinations manually.

The web-based test service from Gomez Inc. lets e-commerce site developers submit draft pages, choosing the browsers and operating systems they want to see them rendered in. It loads screen captures of the test pages into the browsers and operating systems selected, with the visual results delivered in a few minutes. The service supports more than 500 possible browser/operating system combinations, according to Gomez.

Frazzini says eBags monitors its web logs to determine how much traffic is coming from different browsers. “When something gets into the range of 2% to 3% or better, it shows up on our radar screen and we will start testing for it,” he says. Under those rules, eBags now runs tests for how its pages look on the Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers.

Newer versions of the same browsers, such as Internet Explorer’s just-released IE8, may render content in a different sequence than older styles because they typically have more power, he adds. “There may be hundreds of individual components on a web page, and these browsers can open more connection streams faster,” he explains, a functionality called connection parallelism or pipelining. With data reaching the page in the consumer`s browser in multiple, parallel streams, this may change the order in which page elements appear, such as key branding elements a retailer would want to appear first. Frazzini notes the Realty View XF allows eBags to preview the speed and sequence at which individual page elements load.

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