What is Cross-browser compatibility and why is it important?

By Chitrangada Rathore
April 19, 2011
What is Cross-browser compatibility and why is it important?

Cross-browser compatibility!!! Huh…

What’s that?

‘If you have been pondering over the question for some time now, and you are an online business, you are already late, and so keep reading without delay if you do not want to waste any more time in obliviousness. And trust me, you do not.’

So, what is Cross-browser compatibility?

Cross-browser compatibility can be defined as the ability of a website, application or script to support various web browsers identically. This issue is important as now-a-days numerous web browsers are used for web surfing and all of them have different standards.

People need to understand that cross-browser compatibility is more related to site’s functionality than its looks. This means the site should perform equally under various web environments. Every website owner should ensure cross-browser compatibility of their website or applications. Each individual has its own preferred web browser hence there are fewer chances that the website developer and site visitor will use the same browser.

Cross-browser compatibility is more related to site’s functionality than its looks

How to ensure Cross Browser Compatibility?

Cross Browser Compatibility is truly a vital aspect of website development. Therefore while developing a site following points needs to be considered to make the site successful and consistently visible across all the web browsers.

Keeping the Website Simple

One can avoid excessive use of elements in the markup coding such as usage of list elements (ul, ol) for creating menus instead of p elements.

Validation of Website Code

One can use Validator to check HTML and CSS coding before uploading the site as it will be very inflexible to sort out in case of any invalid code .
Cross-browser compatibility is more related to site’s functionality than its looks
Usage of CSS Rules

It’s always better to make CSS reset rule consistent across all browsers as the default settings of these browsers can be different and cause problems.

Development in one single Browser

While developing a website it’s beneficial to test the website in one browser at a time like Firefox. Firefox is very versatile in all respects. Once you are satisfied with the testing results of one browser other browsers can be tested as well such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera etc.

Different Browsers Quirks

It is important to test the website in different browsers like IE, Firefox, Opera etc because all latest browsers have some quirks mode associated with them.

Sort out Internet Explorer Issues

Many a times one needs to implement some JavaScript or CSS hacks even after building a attractive web design. Alternatively conditional comments can be used which are far better than hacks.

Providing Fallbacks

JavaScript and Flash are supported by some browsers. It is always favorable to provide fallbacks in case of browsers that don’t support features like these.

Performing Manual Coding

Instead of using software for coding HTML and CSS, it is very advantageous to perform manual/hand coding for making the site cross browser compatible.

Testing Browser Compatibility by Tools

Testing Browser Compatibility by Tools
There are various free and paid tools in the market for testing browser compatibility. Some of the famous tools are as follows-

  • BrowserShots
  • IE Tester
  • Adobe Browser Lab
  • CrossBrowserTesting
  • Microsoft Expression Web SuperView

A secure strategy is to develop each web page in such a way that it’s equivalently viewable in as many browsers as possible. Functionality is the primary key to cross-browser compatibility. A cross-browser incompatible site may look same but it will never work in the same manner. However in case of a browser compatible website, there may be a different look in various browsers but it will deliver the same information and identical functions which performs same actions.

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