Oooo! A new broswer just came out!

The vast majority of the world’s users choose a browser (or have one chosen for them) and stick with it for the rest of their (or their computer’s) natural life.  We use this browser for pretty much everything, never really considering the impact this choice may have on how we see the world.  Truth be told, the choice is more important that you might think, especially if you run a small business that has a website of its own.

Your Browser

Your browser is essentially like a pair of glasses for the internet.  That said, quality, consistency and compatibility are all things you should consider when making your choice, but these are also things you have to consider when developing a website.  Every browser “should be” compatible.  They should read CSS, HTML, PHP, XML and so many other things in pretty much the same way.  But the fact is…  They don’t!

Internet Explorer is a great example of this.  If you’re using it (any version) you’re not seeing the internet as intended by many developers and small businesses.  Until recently, it simply couldn’t process simple things like rounded corners or CSS shadows without the site’s author jumping through all sorts of hoops, in many cases resulting in pages being written specifically for IE.

Firefox, on the other hand, has been very good about adhering to widely accepted standards.  Sure, there have been issues as there almost always are with technology that’s changing as fast as the web, but Firefox is in the game to put out the best product they can, and I think they’ve done a bang-up job so far.

Safari is another great example of a browser that is built on standards, many of which were built by its developer, Apple, but it doesn’t like ASP ( a Microsoft technology) which can render it useless for some users.

There are others like Chrome by Google, Opera, etc., but the point is this:

The choice you make in a browser is a really important one.  Microsoft has spent decades basically messing up the web in the hopes that their massive market share would give them the ability to corner the market on what have always been open standards.  This is one of MANY REASONS we never recommend Microsoft Explorer.

Like it or lump it…  people use different browsers

While I wish everyone with a PC would simply switch to a browser that actually worked, the fact is, people do what’s easy.  They’re on Internet Explorer, so they’re going to use it, so here’s what you, the website owners of the world, need to do.

  1. Keep an updated copy of all the most popular browsers on your computer so you can check to see what your site looks like using each.
  2. Check with your site developer to be sure they’re checking your site for compatibility when new browsers are released.  They may not be, and that’s okay.  It’s just better to know where you stand rather than assuming these things are being taken care of.  We do check our sites regularly, but it’s very difficult to keep up, so we rely heavily on users letting us know when there are issues.
  3. Use standards based software and plug-ins to minimize the changes or compatibility issues down the line.
  4. Devote a little space in your footer to telling your visitors what browser(s) you’ve developed for.  We try to do this with all our sites.  We figure that a loud enough cry for change will slowly get people to realize there are better browsers, or at least give Microsoft a hint.

Recent Releases and Issues

Recently, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 and have gone with “a more beautiful web” or something to that effect for a catch phrase. Well that’s all well and good, but it isn’t a more beautiful web.  It’s actually a far more problematic web.  And with all the new issues, you need a copy!  Not so you can use it…  No, no, no!  So you can see how much uglier your site looks in it.  So you can see what you look like through the eyes of those poor unfortunate souls.

Another major recent update was FireFox 4.  Now FireFox is one of our favorite browsers and has been a staple in our office for some time.  But even here, there are problems.  One great example, specifically for those WordPress users that are using SlideDeck (one of the more popular slider / carousel plugins), FireFox appears to be rendering CSS incorrectly in some situations were DIV classes and/or IDs are nested within one another.  SlideDeck has released some CSS changes to address the issue, but there’s no word on whether they work, and if so, whether they work all the time.  We suspect it depends greatly on your implementation of SlideDeck.

So when you have a second or two, grab the most recent versions of Internet Explorer 9, FireFox, Chrome and Safari and see your website in a whole new way!  We hope it turns out to be the way you intended it.  🙂

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One Response to Oooo! A new broswer just came out!
  1. Jon Hardison
    April 12, 2011 | 5:43 pm

    Just an amendment to my little post here. Today Rockmelt (A Google Chrome based browser) released Beta 2, and it’s got all sorts of display issues. I haven’t researched the cause(s) yet, but it’s safe to say, you might want to.

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