July 31, 2009

Litmus – Put Your Web Code To The Test


Litmus is a quick way to test how your site content or email communications appear in different browsers and email clients. Although the signup form is longer than many sites, it only takes a minute or so to complete it and you can move straight into the testing phase. Two types of tests are available, with the number of clients you can test on dependent on your level of service. With the free level, which we tested, we were able to check compatibility on recent versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer, as well as Outlook 2003 and Gmail. The list of clients and browsers supported in a paid version is much longer.

Testing a website was as simple as plugging in the URL and waiting a couple of minutes for screenshot thumbnails to appear. You could then click on those to see a full sized screenshot, either of part of the page or the full page. There’s a box at the top where you can indicate whether a site is compatible or incompatible with the selected browser and at the end of the testing phase you can see a mini-report which shows how many incompatibilities you have found.

With email newsletter testing, you can either send a copy of the newsletter to an address supplied by Litmus or plug the HTML straight into a box. You will be able to see how your newsletter looks on the selected platforms, both with and without images, and will be alerted if the email program flags it as spam. This testing didn’t work quite as efficiently as some webmail clients take a long time to return results.

Litmus seems a useful application, both for web developers and marketing communication professionals, or even bloggers sending out their first email newsletter. It’s an efficient way to see your communication and your website the way the recipients see them.

Practical Uses:

  • Find out if your email newsletter will be flagged as spam
  • See if the fancy graphics on your website or newsletter look as good in all browsers
  • Develop websites that are truly cross platform
  • Test private sites before allowing them to go live

Insider Tips:

  • You can test password protected sites simply by logging in as normal when asked
  • Set up notifications via Twitter or your IM client to find out when your tests are completed without hanging around
  • Use the publishing feature to share test results with colleagues
  • Use the spam analysis feature to test communication against popular spam filters (premium feature)

What we liked:

  • Litmus is easy to use
  • The overview screen gives an at a glance view of your tests
  • The ability to receive test notifications via Twitter is very useful
  • Website compatibility tests are completed quickly

What we didn’t like:

  • It took ages for our Gmail screenshots to complete


Company Info:

  • Launched: May 2005
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Leeds, UK
  • Founded by: Paul Farnell, David Smalley, Matthew Brindley
  • Web site:


  • Free
  • Day Pass – $24
  • Individual – $49 per month
  • Team – $199 per month

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