Recently, weve had a few issues with Browser Compatibility (when a website is not consistent on different browsers). Its been a trying time for us.
One of World Wide Creative’s stated aims this year was to get better at creating standards compliant websites. Why? I hear you ask. Whats the point in doing something nobody really cares about outside of the techie community?
The problem with trying to create these sites, employing fancy techniques like tableless CSS, is that browsers interpret them differently. Its hard to get it right first time everytime, so often we have to spend a few days fixing glitches once the site is live on our server.
Im a salesman, and part of my job at World Wide Creative is to present the final site designs once they are up and live. I can say without prejudice that there are few things worse than presenting a site on a clients PC or Mac, and tadaa the site is all broken up. Considering that they have just paid a whack of money to see their beloved company being launch on a world wide stage, it is not surprising that clients can get annoyed when the final product is not 100% in the first presentation.
As a vital step in building websites, we check all the sites across all popular browsers to ensure that they look consistent on all of them.
However, issues arise when I arrive at the clients office we move over to the secretarys desk (because she will be maintaining the site). The secretary is using a 5 year old PC with IE5 on it, and the monitor is set at 800 pixels wide, and the text is enlarged.
I exaggerate, because the glitches are not as bad as I make them out to be, but I am acutely aware of even the little things (since its my job). For example, Ill be presenting and then all of a sudden the main navigation bar across the page will shift up a notch. A background image will slide down and then I start to sweat bullets. The client hasnt even noticed, but Im sitting there, crazily clicking away at the mouse red-faced and stammering and slurring like a drunk Scandinavian welfare case.
Im telling you, for me, theres nothing worse.
So, anyway, tonight, I made myself a cup of tea and started to browse the web. Im looking for the low-down on other peoples experience with browser issues.
And hey presto! I find out that this is a challenge faced by web designers and developers the world over. There are dozens of sites and blogs, authored both by developers and web-users, which complain about the same issues at World Wide Creative face.
I even found a couple of large consumer sites that had issues (check out a screenshot of the Sanlam site below, as seen in IE7). Hey, even the really big guys have issues
It is with a wry sense of ennui that I also realise that World Wide Creative could solve all this by going back to the old conservative route and creating sites in tables, no Java and no CSS. This will allow for little fancy stuff, but at least we can be sure the site will just work.
So why is Browser Compatibility and Standards Compliancy important?
- Standards Compliancy means better search results
- Table-less CSS when done right means a faster and better experience for the site visitor
- When the site is built right, problems and errors at a later stage become easier and faster to fix
- Changes are a cinch, especially when the whole site uses style-sheets.
- Standards Compliancy is going become a legal requirement in many countries (this means creating sites that cater for people with disabilities).
- Browser Compatibility means you dont lose potential customers. (Check out this story about Delta.com not working on Macs Safari browser.)
To conclude: we’re sticking to our guns. We aim to be up there with the best in terms of building sites, and tackling these issues are part of the process. I reckon they’ll probably only get worse as browsers tweak and change their features and functionalities.
It’s a good thing I love my job.