Cross-Browser Compatibility

"Hey, I visited the web page that you told me about last night. I don't understand why you like it so much, none of the pictures were visible and the text scrolled completely off of the window. I'm NOT going back to that page..."

I would venture to guess that at least 90 percent of the computers sold today come with Microsoft Window98/2000/Me pre-installed on them. I would also guess that 100 percent of the computers sold to new computer users have a Microsoft Operating System. Based on my assumptions, it is feasible that the majority of Internet users have Microsoft Internet Explorer installed as their web browser, right? But what about the people who use Netscape Navigator, Mosaic and Opera?

It is an easy trap to fall into. If you use Microsoft FrontPage to design your web pages, then they will most likely look fabulous using Microsoft Internet Explorer, but if you load the same page in a different browser it might look a mess. So, what do you do to fix the problem? The easy solution is to put the ever popular, "This Page Best Viewed Using 'My_Favorite_Browser'", and placing a link for people to download said browser. But that won't solve everybody's problem.

Luckily most often the incompatibility is minor, maybe a few missing images or the font size is messed up. But it is still an issue you might want to consider. I personally try to design a page that will work equally well in Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer as they comprise close to 99 percent of the browsers used in homes today. Just create the page normally, and then when you are finished, preview it in your default browser. But, when you are finished with all of your tweaking and polishing, open it in a different browser just to check that the content is still readable. It is not difficult or time consuming, and it might enable a whole new group of web users to view your pages.

Some of the Common problems . . .

  1. Forgetting to close a tag pair (/table, /td, /font and /h1)
    • Internet Explorer will usually second guess you and display the content normally, Netscape however will usually not display anything at all and jump to the next section of the document
  2. Using a .bmp (bitmap) image.
    • Again Internet explorer will display the image and Netscape won't
  3. Using a proprietary tag like "marquee."
    • The text will scroll in IE but appear static in Navigator, not a big problem unless you have a longer text selection. If the text is lengthy it will affect the page layout in Navigator.

Remember, just fixing one of these problems may allow a whole new group of users to access and enjoy your site. It doesn't take that much time to check your page content in another browser, and most of the fixes are fairly easy to make.