When one mentions browsers, most instinctively think of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Few realize that besides these, there are literally hundreds of web browsers and mobile browsers; and each browser has different versions creating innumerable variations of browsers that people could be using to visit your website. Just because your website looks good on the browser you use to check it does not necessarily mean that it looks the same on all browsers and all versions of these browsers. When a website is designed, if it does not look the same on all or most browsers, it creates cross browser compatibility issues that can have a real impact on your business. This is where cross browser compatibility comes in.
What is cross browser compatibility?
Making your website behave consistently across browsers is called cross browser compatibility. Whether it is just look and feel or its behavior, a website can be made to function similarly across browsers with cross browser compatibility. Ensuring cross browser compatibility is an important step in the web design process that many web designers tend to bypass or compromise on.
Here is a simple example: You have a form on your website that is crucial to your lead generation efforts. When you tested the website before launching it, the form worked perfectly on your browser. Let’s say 20% of the visitors to your website browsers on which the form does not work — it either looks misaligned and bad or clicking the submit does not result in an actual submission of the form. Imagine the impression these 20% visitors will carry about your website and business. Also consider the loss of leads from 20% of your audience.
What are cross browser compatibility issues?
How to ensure cross browser compatibility?
There are many things a web designer can do to ensure cross-browser compatibility. Depending on the complexity of your website, it can sometimes be almost impossible to achieve 100% cross browser compatibility, but a web designer can make sure the site looks and behaves more or less consistently across browsers by following these steps:
- Understand Browser Differences: The first thing a web designer needs to know before designing a website is the differences between browsers and how they handle elements. This awareness alone will go a long way in ensuring that the design does not lead to cross browser compatibility issues that cannot be corrected.
- HTML Editor Selection: The HTML editor you choose while creating your website often adds lines of code that can create cross browser compatibility issues. Dreamweaver would be a good choice of HTML editor provided you convert layers into tables.
- Style Sheets: Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allows you to manage the look and feel of elements on your web pages. However, not all style sheets may be compatible with all versions of every browser. A web developer needs to be aware of this and select styles that will have the least impact on cross browser compatibility.
- Flash: It is important for web designers to know that browsers designed for the blind and most mobile browsers do not support flash. While Flash can add to the visual appeal of the site, it can cause cross browser compatibility issues — expecially on hand-held devices — and it is also not the most search engine friendly of web technologies.
- Image links: When you link images, unless you use an ALT attribute for the images, they will pose the same problems as Flash on mobile browsers and browsers for the visually impaired.
- Clean Code: The next thing a web designer needs to ensure is that the code of the web pages is absolutely clean with no avoidable elements that may be interpreted differently by different browsers.
- W3C Compliance: After the website is coded, the web designer needs to try and achieve W3C compliance. This can be done at https://validator.w3.org/. Achieving W3C compliance may not be easy, especially if your site uses features that are considered an enhancement over W3C standards. However, the closer you come to a W3C compliant code, the lesser will be the chances that the site will differ in performance and look in different browsers.
- Cross-Browser Testing: The last thing is to test your website in as many different browsers as possible after it is built. There are many free and paid tools available for cross-browser testing and you should check your website on as many browsers as you can before releasing it.
In spite of all these efforts, a website may not be 100% cross browser compatible. However, minor differences in the look of a site do less damage than elements that do not work on certain browsers. Consistent behavior in all browsers is the first aim of achieving cross-browser compatibility and you should be able to achieve that provided you follow the steps listed above. Working with a professional web designer who understands these issues would be the best way to ensure that you get a cross-browser compatible website.
Professional Web Design Services from Flying Cow Design
Flying Cow Design has a track record of over 20 years of professional web design. What differentiates us from most web design companies is that our focus is not only on web design, but on building a strong online presence for our clients. Understanding the changing web development standards and search engine guidelines has helped us build a strong web presence for many of our clients through a combination of our web design and internet marketing services. To see how we can help you build a strong web presence, write to us today!