What Browser Should I Code For?

Due to the growth of the web there are many different browser on the market, and many different ways for users to connect to your website. During the internet boom in the 90’s, you would see websites all the time that would say Best viewed in Internet Explorer 4 at 800 x 600 resolution. In today’s standard this would not be considered professional, and for the most part is not accepted by the community in general. So how do you choose what browser to code for?

First, you should use tools that will allow you to monitor the traffic that comes to your site. You can use the log files that your web server creates, or other gui based web tools like the popular AWStats. This will give you a target for what browser you should attempt to try to code for. If you have a large number of Firefox users, then target that group. This will allow your site to operate smoother, and make a better experience for the user.

Make for sure your code is using industry standards. Internet Explore has it’s own set of CSS filters and transitions. Try to stay away from those type of browser specific features. Yes, the fade transition between pages may seem like a great idea, but if you spend an hour getting it just right, but half your users can’t see it then there is no real good reason to waste that time. Use tools such as the W3C’s HTML or CSS Validators, to make for sure your code within standards.  Even then you have to remember that not all browsers support all of the standards.

Keep your site’s layout simple.  Use the acronym KISS or Keep It Simple Stupid.  When adding features on your site, check to make for sure that most browsers support the code for that feature.   Internet Explorer does not support the psuedo element after, because of this try to use it sparingly.  Also, check for other coding ideas that create the same effect.  If you want a rollover, and you are using CSS but it is not working in one browser, then try using JavaScript to create the same effect.  This can eliminate headaches that come from trying to find a work around, when the work around is to use a different language.

Test your code in multiple browsers.  If you know that 75% of your site’s visitors are using FireFox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Safari, then install those browsers and test your code.  If possible try the same browsers on multiple operating systems.  It doesn’t hurt to see your site from a different “angle”.  This may even inspire you to a better layout.

Because of the diversity of the internet, designers can not code for just one browser.   Like all things, we have to adapt to our environment.  That environment is an internet with multiple browsers.  So what browser should you code for, all of them.

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