Most of the time when people hear the word “Compatibility” they immediately think online dating but when it comes to your online presence you need to think about more than just viewing your matches for free this weekend. When it comes to compatibility and your website the kind that should be forefront in your mind is more of the browser variety.
You might not realize this, but not everyone is using the exact same browser as you do when you go online to admire your latest dispatch of inspiration to the masses. I know what you are thinking “So what? Aren’t all browsers the same!”. Were that only true the world would be a much more lovely place for web developers but alas it is not the case. Not all browsers are created equal but how different could they be, right? Well that depends on your website design. In some cases you will see little or no difference while in others it could be night and day so it is important to make sure that you know how your site looks in other browsers.
Just because your system came with IE installed does not mean that is the case for everyone on the net. If you use a professional to build your site, this is usually part of their regular process but even still it is a good idea to see for yourself. Every browser renders slightly differently. Firefox, Safari and Chrome are very similar but not always exact and IE (the bane of most designers existence) although it has gotten better in recent versions, can still have some significant differences. The last thing you will want is for site goers to think your site was inspired by Picasso because it was not tested and in their browser it looks like some cubist version of the reality you thought you were showing.
So how can you test it? Well, that is probably one of the easiest things you can do on your own where your site is concerned. All major browsers are free to download and most can co-exist in peace on your machine, the notable difference being different flavors of IE (and yes from version to version of IE you can see major differences but the most recent version will do the trick for our purposes). The process is simple (even old hat if you are used to downloading and installing applications for the internet). The steps are simple:
Easy, right? Now all you need are the links to get started so here they are in order of their market share:
As you can see IE owns the lions share of the market with Firefox and Chrome neck and neck for a distant second and Safari and Opera rounding out the top five. So what does this tell you? You need to make sure your site works in IE first and foremost but at a minimum you also need to make sure that Firefox and Chrome are given due consideration. Safari can be more of an afterthought and opera only for really hardcore Type “A”‘s out there.
Although it seems like a simple thing, cross browser compatibility can be a major issue when it comes to website usability so what are you waiting for? Depending on your internet connection, the download and install of the applications should not take very much time and all you will need to know to use them is your website address. Who knows, after your testing is done, you may just decide you prefer a different board for your future web surfing outings.