Web Browsers Are Not Created Equal

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Web Browsers Are Not Created Equal

posted this on Friday, July 5, 2013 at about 7am.
Web Browsers Are Not Created Equal

When I started Tribute Media nearly six years ago, I had to learn how to provide high quality websites to a variety of companies. I had taught graphic design for the web. I had plenty of print experience and had built a few websites for myself but I never had worked in or run a web development shop.

My first websites were mediocre at best. There are a few still in operation today so I guess they all weren't that bad. However, based on the standards I hold my employees to today, they are - how do you say it?

Not Good!

As we hired our first official designer, we approached the web from a print point of view. Part of the reason we did was because of my extensive print background, but also our first designer was primarily a print designer.

I've come to learn with the hundreds of websites that we've built that print is a very different world than web. Six years ago, a very static (print like) website wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Now, websites have to be interactive. Now, visitors expect a website that works properly on the device they are using.

The challenge for designers is that devices are not all created equal. Windows and Macintosh have different capabilities. But, it's more about the web browser you use. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and a host of others, all provide variations in how they work. It makes it even harder when just the version number of the browser can make all the difference in the world.

In my book, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy", I use the example of televisions to compare the way web browsers function. You have the equivalent of the old black & white to the latest of 3D TV and everything in between. Each allows you a different experience.

What's interesting is that we don't seem to complain that the broadcaster has done a poor job when our TV doesn't show all the colors or show the rich detail. We understand that the limitations are in the TV itself. People don't seem to have that same leniency when it comes to running a web browser that is seven years old.

As a result, we changed the way we show people designs for approval. In the beginning, we would design in Photoshop or Illustrator and then just create an image for them to see. Then, after it was approved, we had to figure out how to make it look the same in all browsers. Now, we very rarely will provide a mockup of a home page design as an image. When we do, we tell them the caveat is that this may look different from browser to browser.

With this new approach, we make the assumption that browsers will be different; we allow for those differences in the way we design our websites. Internet Explorer is different than Firefox. Safari on the desktop is different than Safari on an iPad or iPhone. Chome on the desktop than Chrome on an Android device.

I'm sure over the next few years we'll see new ways that these web browsers are different and they'll continue to provide challenges for web designers. In the meantime, if you hire a designer to build your website, understand that this is why you hire a professional and not cousin Johnny's nephew who is dabbling in his spare time and can do it for you on the side.

It only looks easy because we make it look easy.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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