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Old 06-04-2006, 04:06 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Manchester, NH
Posts: 65
Default Designing for browser compatibility?

Help needed, please:

I'm working on a website for a friend's small business. I'm also using it as a self-training exercise. I want it to be a nice website using as much nifty stuff (CSS2, a bit of Javascript, absolute and relative positioning, layers, tab-buttons, that sort of thing) as I can manage, but I want to minimize any risk of using features that common browsers won't be able to recognize and render correctly. So I'm wondering what level of nifty stuff I can safely use.

I already know that Firefox 1.5 and MSIE 6 don't always render CSS-formatted pages the same way, which is a friggin' nuisance. A check of my own website's user logs shows that for this year, about 88% of the non-bot hits have come from browsers that should be CSS2 compliant: Firefox, IE6, IE5, Mozilla 5. IE6 accounts for 71% of all visitors, all by itself. The two names in the top ten list that concern me are Safari (no version information given) and Opera 8.5. I know nothing about either one. How reliably CSS-compliant are they?

What level of browser do you folks design for? How often do you get user complaints about browsers that don't render CSS websites correctly?

-- JSW
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: In the Heart of the English Lake District
Posts: 1,381

This is a bit like "how long is a ball of string?"

The simple rules for creating web sites now revolve around standards compliance, both in XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. You should also consider accessibility issues, which are important for all sites, and very important for business, as a sales message must be available to all.

Do not write to satisfy the quirks of IE6. This is a very old browser, and will soon be replaced by IE7 (currently in public testing as beta2). IE7 is capable of handling CSS2 on a par with Firefox/Mozilla, Safari etc and a lot of hacks written to work with IE6 just do not work with IE7. I have not known IE6 users complain that some part of a site does not work properly - yet FireFox users readily complain!

Write the site page content, and then use XHTML and CSS to control the semantic structure, the layout and the display. Only use JavaScript if it is essential.


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Old 06-04-2006, 10:53 PM   #3
Richard Waller
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex UK
Posts: 732

I would go further than Kelvyn. I use only about 20 HTML commands and try and persuade the client that he does not need to have the eye candy. Name, Address, Telephone, Email, perhaps a picture of the owner. Amd the USP right at the top of the first page. (Unique Selling Proposition).

The rest is just the background to establish your credibility and impress the people at the search engines that you know what you are doing.

Unless you are really in the entertainment business. Or your target audience is rather young.

Richard Waller
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Old 06-05-2006, 03:53 AM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sarnia, Canada
Posts: 1,122

The first trick is to design conforming web pages. Put the page through a validator. A validated page should appear correctly in all browsers, except perhaps Internet Explorer. Therefore, I make my pages so they work well in IE, and validate them.
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