Thursday, June 18, 2009

Browser Compliance - An Important Ingredient Of Web Design

by Kabir Bedi

One of the most essential features of a successful website is browser compatibility. However, it is also one of the most overlooked areas during the website design and development process. Browser compatible website designs make sure that your website renders well on most of the popular browsers and is accessible by a large number of audience.

Problem with Browser Incompatibility


When users want to open a web page, they specify a URL to the server through the browser. Your audiences may be using a number of web browsers like the Firefox, IE, Opera Safari etc. that connects the servers through the internet gateway. The request is send to the modem through IP number of the users' computer. The modem subsequently send the request to ISP's IP number and then connects it to the DNS. When the web page is connected, ISP sends the contents of that web page to the requesting computer. All the information comes in the form of HTML and it is further converted into normal text by the browsers. This is the reason why HTML is referred to as client side scripting language.

The problem of browser incompatibility arises because different browsers read HTML differently. And the website would need to cater to all of them if it needs to get displayed well.

Browser incompatibility with multiple browsers generally doesn't affect the website functionality. In fact, it has an impact on the design and layout of the website. And this further influences how visitors view your website and what impression they get of the same. If you design your website for IE 7, it would display perfectly for all the users using IE 7 but for those people who use Firefox, it may display differently.

Tips to attain Browser Compliance


Follow W3C Standards

One of the prime factors that determines browser compatibility of a website is the complexity of its design. Simple web designs can be made compatible with multiple browsers by sticking to certain web conventions like W3C validation and adhering to the standard resolution of 1024 pixels X 768 pixels during the design & development process. However, with complex designs there are more things that need to be considered. Use validating tools to check the HTML coding and W3C validation of your website.

Analyze the Browser Habits of your Target Audience


It is important to make your website compliant with the popular browsers. And to figure out what browsers you need to focus on, it is important to identify your target audience and anticipate their browsing habit. For example, if your website largely caters to the Asian population, users would prefer using IE or Firefox. Nearly 60% of the internet users globally use IE followed by about 35% (and increasing) who use Firefox. The rest use browsers like Safari, Opera and so on. Moreover, there is also an increasing audience segment that use mobile devices to access the internet and browse websites.

Check the CSS

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets are a popular design tool used by web programmers. CSS classes are applied to different HTML components. However, a single CSS class can behave differently in different browsers. Therefore it is important to develop the CSS in such a way that the HTML output looks the same in different browsers.

Maintain a Simple Structure

A simple website structure allows you to deal with several incompatibility issues and make the website compliant across multiple browsers.

About the Author

Kabir Bedi works as a senior web consultant at LeXolution IT Services, a professional web development company located in India. He has over 10 years of experience in delivering web design and web maintenance services and has catered to several international clients.