Second, make sure that you (or your web developer) aren’t using technologies that won’t work on certain browsers. As an end user, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to do something on a site and then realizing that for some reason it will only work if you use a different browser!
So, when you are developing a new site (and I know! I still owe you some tips on that based on my earlier post!) make sure that your web development team is testing the site (and all features) across the appropriate browsers. Ask them to give you a list of which browsers they are testing on; compare that list to the browsers your site analytics say are the most used (if you’ve got that information). Ask them what users will see if certain technology isn’t available (for example, if a user doesn’t have Flash and there’s a bunch of Flash on your site, what does that user see?). And remember, it’s not enough to know if they are looking at the site on IE — you need to know if they’re talking about version 6, 7 or 8 (for what it’s worth, focus on 7 and 8. Most of us web developers are hoping IE6 dies soon).
Just know that your site will never look exactly the same across all browsers, and you can’t possibly test on every single browser. Just make sure that you’re testing the most common browsers and that the site looks good and functions properly.
Most Common Browsers
What are the most common browsers? To answer that question, you have to understand one more concept: the platform. The word “platform” is commonly used to refer to the type of computer you are using (the hardware), and its operating system (or “OS”, the software).
The most common hardware is the PC (hp, Dell, Sony, etc.), which typically uses Windows for the OS (XP, Vista, etc.). The second most popular hardware is the Mac (iMac, MacBook, etc.) which uses an operating system called OSX (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard). But, these days, there is also a strong possibility that a visitor to your site might be on a mobile device like an iPhone or a BlackBerry. These devices also have operating systems and browsers to consider (iPhones use Safari as a browser, BlackBerries use a proprietary browser, and many other mobile devices use Opera Mini).
Confused yet? I know. It’s crazy. But, with all that in mind here’s a list of the most common browsers today:
- Internet Explorer
For Mobile Devices:
- Safari (iPhone)
- Opera Mini
So, that’s that! Your browser runs on your hardware and operating system, takes code (like HTML) and displays it on your screen. Ba-da-bing.
Now, if you are walking through Times Square and someone from Google stops to ask you what a browser is, you can answer. So browse away, my friends! Browse away.