The job of a web developer today is a very complex task. Between the requirements set by marketers and tests performed by UX designers, every web developer should at some point consider the cross-browser compatibility of his or her website. This is a major challenge faced by all those, who want to provide the best online experience possible – ensuring that a website performs excellently in all browsers is a part of that effort.
It’s safe to say that consumers use various web browsing tools – from niche ones like Konqueror to giants, such as Firefox, Chrome or IE. Here’s a short overview of cross-browser compatibility issue and several solutions on how to deal with it.
Cross-Browser Compatibility :: Why Is It Important?
When you’re building a website, you simply must realize that it will be rendered by different browsers, which run on different operating systems and possibly on devices other than traditional desktop – think tablets or smartphones. As a web developer, your mission is to create a unique experience that works equally great on all possible devices and systems.
There’s a number of studies conducted on average browser usage, but don’t try relying on them – they vary greatly according to source and region. It’s safe to assume that the largest slice of the Internet market share belongs to popular browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer. If you build a website which is incompatible with one of those and simply crashes you’ll have to deal with losses in visitor number, popularity and rank in search engines.
And no one wants to suffer that fate – that’s why you should make sure that your website always looks great and you control its performance in every possible browser and context. How to ensure that your website operates well in all its possible variations? Read on to find out.
Cross-Browser Compatibility :: Test, Test & Test
Before starting to worry about cross-browser compatibility of your website, you should see what it actually looks like when rendered by different browsers. Maybe in the end there will be nothing to worry about? There are lots of smart tools scattered around the web that were designed specifically for this purpose.
First, have a look at Adobe Browser Lab – a specialized tool that allows on-demand screenshot viewing, showing you how your website is rendered by different browsers, allowing you to notice immediately whether some unwanted changes or problems have occurred. Try Browsershots , a web-based service, where you can see your web designs in a great number of browsers. Browsrcamp could also prove interesting – it tests your website on browsers run on Mac OS operating system.
If you’ve just finished testing your website and, despite all the efforts, uncovered some terrible renderings, it’s time to act. Here’s what you can do.
Cross-Browser Compatibility :: Solutions
Some developers like to simply suggest the best browser to view the page – they add a ‘This website looks best in…’ box somewhere on the page and hope users to follow their advice. Unfortunately, they rarely ever do. Asking users for additional effort is way beyond your job – you’re the one to make things easy for them in the first place.
How can you solve the problem? Follow the guidelines for your coding type when building your website – the Web Standards (check) are there to help you. Experts advise that it’s best to start with a solid template and later build your way up – that way you’re making sure that your website performs great on both old and modern browsers.
Think about this – instead of striving to provide all users with the same experience, try enhancing your website progressively and offer a richer UI only to users with modern browsers.
Other than that, there are lots of tools to help you check errors and minimize files, such as Uglify , HTML validators , GruntJS or CSS validators.
Regardless of your coding language, you’ll find a whole wealth of resources on the web that will guide you to build websites in accordance with general standards and make sure that they perform great across different web browsers and devices. However, whether you choose to make use of them and ensure that your website is fully optimized to work on a variety of browser – it is up to you.
This article is written by Jody Anderson. She is an experienced marketing specialist currently employed by MyShopping, who divides her time between work and expanding her knowledge of the field of e-commerce and marketing. When not working or learning, Jody spends her time swimming and reading criminal novels.