And all of these browsers, like the people who made them, see things in a slightly different way. The appearance of your website can be affected by which browser it is being viewed in. Assuring consistency across browsers is called “Cross-browser compatibility.”
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Huh. Well that’s interesting,” and you’re right. It is.
But it’s also pretty important. If your website does not work on a potential customer’s browser, they’re going to blame you, not the browser. Your web site needs to have the same aesthetic appeal and ease-of-use to all of your clients, no matter what browser he or she happens to be using.
Why are there so many, though?
If the codes are the same, why don’t all browsers just step in line to support them all? Well, the root of that problem really starts with the birth of the internet and web browsers.
Back on the eighth or ninth day, when God flicked the booger that became the internet, there were two browsers: one hosted by Microsoft, and another by Netscape. There was one coding language and that language was HTML. As this language evolved, the browsers also evolved in order to support the latest version of the code, to create the most compelling web designs available.
Think of it this way: you are a person with bad vision. Not awful, like you’re not blind or anything, but without your glasses, the world around you is only a collection of multi-colored blobs that occasionally say things to you or smell bad. Browsers are like the glasses you use to see that world. No matter what pair of glasses you’re looking through, it’s your perception that’s being affected, not the world itself.
Speaking a different language
This is because websites react to browsers. So it’s important for you, when you’re designing your websites, to try to make a site that will interact best with whatever browser you plan on most of your clientele using. And believe it or not—this is absolutely traceable. GFK Technologies has stated that 36% of Google Chrome’s users are aged 16-24, bumping out Mozilla Firefox as the Browser of Youth (30% of Mozilla’s users are 16-24). So, if you’re targeting a younger audience with your product, it would be wise to make sure it displays properly on Chrome and, to a slightly lesser extent, Firefox.
We not only work to ensure that our websites operate fully across as many browsers as possible, but across as many devices as possible (iPads, mobile devices, etc).
Both Chrome and Firefox have been lauded as the choice of developers. Both browsers offer great ease of use and are compatible with HTML 5 as well as CSS, giving developers a greater capacity to improve the functionality of their pages. Internet Explorer accepts those codes as well, and in an effort to help developers, recently added a tool that allows web pages to be tested in different versions of Explorer within your browser window.
So with the latest versions of these browsers, there’s not a whole lot that can go wrong if you stick to the standards (the sort-of grammar of coding). Where things get tricky is when someone is using an older browser to view a page that is using newer codes—codes that came along after that browser’s inception. Things like where a picture loads on a page, or whether or not a graphic…graphics correctly. And this is where developers start to see the differences between the browsers.
Older versions of Explorer are notoriously difficult to develop for, and since Explorer is the second-most used browser on Earth, and not everyone goes through the trouble of upgrading their browser, this presents a problem. What if your client-base is not necessarily tech-savvy and use an older version of Internet Explorer? They go to your site and see a technicolor mess of words and graphics—blocks of text don’t line up correctly and/or are overlapping picture or your pictures don’t show up at all.
To prevent something like this from happening to you, developers “gracefully degrade.” This essentially means looking at a web page, deciding what’s essential and what can be done without, and developing so that those essential things work on the maximum number of browsers possible—downgrading some of the more advanced elements so that they work on older browsers. It’s a prioritization thing.
We use cutting edge technology to create and design sites that work on modern browsers as well as older browsers. Assuring that your web site has cross-browser compatibility is important because for many of your clients, your web site will be the first impression they get of your company, and we (and hopefully you) want that impression to be a good one. Imagine if you walked into a job interview with your tie tied around your head. No matter what you said, there’s still a tie on your head, and that’s a hard thing to get past. If someone goes to your site and the words are spread out over pictures or graphics aren’t showing up, they’re going to have a hard time getting past that—and may actually seek out other companies who take the time to put on a good internet face.
Browser compatibility is something that from the outside seems like an afterthought—a dull, pedantic sort of “i” dotting and “t” crossing, but it can be the difference between a customer logging onto your site then immediately moving on, and that customer sticking around, learning about your product, and investing in what you have to offer. Craft your websites so that all of its users have the same experience, and assure that that experience is a great one.