You work hard to create a fantastic webdesign for your client, then get told it looks terrible. Why oh why? It looks GREAT on your computer. But she insists something’s wrong. Could it be she’s looking at it with a different browser or operating system?
It happens all the time. One browser displays a site to perfection and another shows it as being wonky to the max. What should the persistent and dedicated webdesigner do?
Test the site on all browsers.
During the time I worked as a webdesigner I collected a variety of browsers to test my websites. I never use Internet Explorer anymore unless I need to see a site through the IE filter. Occasionally this is quite different than what I find with Firefox or Chrome. When you test with lesser-used browsers like Opera, Flock, or SeaMonkey, the problems can add up. Web surfers are easily frustrated by reaching sites that are incompatible with their browser, screen resolution, or operating system.
There are such a wide variety of browsers available these days it is nearly impossible to own them all. That’s one reason why it is helpful to find a webdesigner’s group to bounce new designs off of. For example, you could ask someone using a Mac with Safari to check your design for you. If there’s something wonky, hopefully your online friend will send you a screenshot of the problem.
Since you can’t own all browsers or all operating systems (or maybe you can… but most of us can’t) you might get some use out of an online utility like Browser Shots. You can request screenshots as seen by a variety of browsers on four different operating systems: Linus, Windows, Mac, and BSD. It will also check the page with different screen sizes enabled. How cool is that?
Google Labs offers a utility to allow you to see how much of your website shows for people using smaller resolutions: Browser Size.
Net Renderer is a similar however more limited service. It enables you to see your site on a variety of Internet Explorer versions. Many webdesigners find that helpful because when you upgrade Internet Explorer it overwrites the older versions.
What if you see something wonky that you don’t like? Well, check recent web browser usage statistics.
In November 2010 44% of web surfers used Firefox. I would definitely optimize for that browser!
28.6% were using Internet Explorer. Your client probably was too… so definitely, optimize for that browser.
20% of the people used Google Chrome. Definitely, you must optimize for Chrome (my current favorite browser).
4% used Safari and 2.3% used Opera. Do you care about optimizing for them? Well, I’d definitely run tests for those systems, but I wouldn’t spend hours and hours trying to fix a small wonk unless my client insisted on it. Large wonks involving legibility issues, I’d work on.
Ever heard of The Anybrowser Campaign? Their Accessible Design Guide should be required reading for any prospective webdesigner. Remember, you’re not designing only for people with IE on a PC with the Flash turned on. Your clients want their information available for everyone on the web, and they have a right to expect that.
About MeI'm a xhtml/css web designer. I owned a webdesign business for five years and now write about how to start a webdesign business.
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