Skip to main content

Seven Useful Web Development Tips & Tools for Cross-Compatibility

As a web designer, you would think that the major Internet browsers would’ve come to some sort of agreement on standards and best practices after all this time. In reality, browser compatibility is a minefield of confusing conflicts and picky platforms that refuse to play nice with each other. Here are some useful tools and tips for riding out the waves:

Tip: Create a profile of your target audience.

cross-compatibilityYou could easily spend hours optimizing your pages for every browser from the first iteration of Mozilla forward. At some point you have to ask yourself, who is using this?
Does your website cater to contractors and DIY homeowners who may use their cell phone for texting, but are more comfortable surfing the net on a PC? Are you trying to reach C-level execs who have their iPhone surgically attached to their hand?
Think about their native technology environment, and prioritize your compatibility efforts based on the technology your audience prefers. The idea is to shape your message to their medium, or browser in this case.

Tip: Do not guess about what your audience is using.

Research and prioritize intelligently, and be prepared to back up your decisions with facts. Everyone loves seeing statistics.
Let’s say your client or your boss asks you to make the website compatible with their pet platform. You need something more compelling than, “Your browser is out of date; you should upgrade.” Let them know you mean business. “Your browser currently represents .5% of global browser users,” carries the weight of authority. And you can back it up.
Fun W3Schools Usage Statistics as of November 2009:
95% of browsers have JavaScript enabled
90% use Windows family operating systems
62% use Windows XP

Tool: W3Schools – Browser Share Statistics

cross-compatibility
W3Schools has the latest numbers for browser share past and current. They offer a monthly breakdown of the most popular browser platforms, including which versions garner the lion’s share of users. Firefox and IE ( versions 6, 7, and 8 ) are the most common browsers. At the back of the pack, Google Chrome has captured 8.5 percent, with Safari holding 3.8 percent. These statistics are extracted from W3Schools’ log-files, but W3Schools monitors other sources around the Internet to assure the quality of these figures.

Tool: W3Schools – Browser Display Statistics

This breakdown will show you what screen size visitors will most likely use to view your website. You can also see how colors will be viewed on your site.
Surprising, most computers are using a screen size of 1024×768 pixels or more, with a color depth of at least 65K colors. Remember the old standby screen size of 800×600? Only 4 percent of visitors actually use that setting!
Keep in mind, this data comes from W3Schools, a website catering to web technology hounds. Definitely a tech-savvy audience there. Your mileage may vary.

Tip: Website audiences are unique.

Global averages are helpful, but the important thing is how your users see your site. Website audiences are unique as a fingerprint. Some web site users favor the latest technology, while others have grudgingly accepted email as a universal form of communication. Dig into your website analytics to find out what technology your visitors use to access your website.
“First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure,” – Mark Twain.

Tool: Google Analytics – Browser Capabilities

cross-compatibility
Google has a fantastic (and free!) tool to analyze your own Browser statistics. From your dashboard, select Visitors > Browser Capabilities to access this tool. You can view by Browser alone, or look at the OS driving the browser technology.
This Analytics section provides very detailed information about your visitors. You can view typical screen resolutions, screen colors, operating systems, and so much more.
Wondering how your latest Flash creation or JavaScript app will play with your audience? You can see which version of Flash your visitors are using, and how many have JavaScript enabled.
Another useful feature of Analytics enables you to look at visits, time spent on site, new visits and bounce rates for these various browser segments. You can also view goals and conversions for each type of browser, OS, and screen resolution. See how these technologies affect your goals for the site.

Tip: Do not idolize statistics.

cross-compatibility 
In the immortal words of Oscar Wilde, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Keep in mind, many statistics may have incomplete or faulty browser detection. It is quite common by many web-stats report programs not to detect the newest browsers.
Also, if you find that a small segment of your traffic is extremely active or spending a lot of money on your site, you may want to optimize for them. Even if they’re a small part of the overall pie, they could be crucial to the success of your site.
“You cannot – as a web developer – rely only on statistics. Statistics can often be misleading.” – W3Schools


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top 5 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010

Katie Stanton, International Strategist for Twitter Katie Stanton has impressively long names of companies in her resume. They include the White House, Google Inc, and her latest addition is Twitter. Her remit is working on Twitter’s international strategy and her experience in social media will be a key asset to the company. Katie has a history of working in technology, and her knowledge of departmental laws will help Twitter work alongside government agencies, as she’ll be spearheading the free information approach, especially after the Wikileaks incident. Stanton has been a key player in the techsphere for some time, and this extends to her private life. Following the Haiti disaster she worked with a group of engineers to create a free texting service to help those in need and she is constantly in demand as an expert in both social media and government policy.
Caterina Fake, Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch Despite having a surname which sounds like a pseudonym for a spy (it’…

AT&T MiFi 2372 review

In the week or so that I have been testing the AT&T MiFi 2372 by Novatel Wireless, it has already saved no less than three lives. First, it saved my cable guy’s life. You see, Time Warner Cable provides the worst home Internet service I have ever experienced. I can’t even think of a close second. If providing terrible home Internet service was a sport, Time Warner Cable would be on its tenth consecutive undefeated season. Forget the fact that my upload speed is capped at 60Kbps and I’m lucky if I can get half that — it has been months since I’ve gone through a full day without at least one service interruption. Months. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable has an exclusive contract with my building so I have no choice but to endure its abysmal service. Last week, as a Time Warner Cable technician entered my home for the sixth time in two months, I realized that this certainly would have spelled serious trouble had it not been for my trusty new back up device. Before the Mi…

Evolution Of Computer Virus [infographic]