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Making Your Website Compatible with Common Browsers

website browser compatibilityWhen you build a website, you hope to draw in as many visitors as possible. But if you primarily use one browser for your business, it’s easy to forget that other people may prefer different browsers. 

Why does it matter? If you’re not careful about your site’s compatibility with various web browsers, your site may not appear properly to some visitors, depending on which browser they’re using.  

Some website builder tools like Rushmore Web take advantage of responsive design technology, so your website automatically renders properly using any browser or device. But if you are writing the code for yourself, make sure to factor in other browsers. 

Tips for Ensuring Cross-Browser Compatibility

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other types of code are handled differently by different browsers. Although the differences are often virtually imperceptible, discrepancies can cause major issues such as slow load times, odd appearance of certain elements, or failure to load the page at all. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building a website:

Make sure your coding conforms with W3C standards. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, publishes a list of coding standards. Refer to them and make sure your code conforms to ensure the best compatibility possible.

Use an HTML validator.  HTML validators are available online, and many of them are free. Use them to check your code for errors that could cause compatibility issues with some browsers. Remember to run the code through the validator every time you update it.

Don’t forget about using alt tags. They should be used for all images on your site. In the event that your website doesn’t render correctly on a certain browser, visitors will at least be able to read which image was supposed to appear. (It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s better than nothing.)

Omit certain effects that do not render properly on some browsers.  Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. If you have created a brilliant Flash video that some viewers can’t watch because their browser is incompatible or not up to date, they might miss the point of your page. It’s way better to omit the effect entirely and include other valuable content than to end up with a site that looks wrong in certain browsers.

Test your site on as many browsers as possible. This is the easiest and most obvious way to ensure that your site is compatible with most browsers. Download and install the most popular ones — Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera — and test your site on each one (even if you think that no one uses that browser anymore.) Make notes of issues and take steps to correct them.

Ignoring browser compatibility is a surefire way to build a site that doesn’t work for a large percentage of people, so keep these tips in mind while designing yours.

Patriot Software, Inc., is a developer of small business software for U.S.business owners. The company has developed Rushmore Web, a website builder, as well as software for running payroll, hiring employees, tracking time and attendance, managing HR tasks, and more. For more information, visit PatriotSoftware.com.

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