Which Browser do you use? If you design web pages and you
answered either Netscape Navigator (NN) or Internet Explorer (IE)
you are wrong. You are also wrong if you answered any other
Browser (you probably did not).
Internet Explorer (65%) and Netscape Navigator (26%) account for
by far the majority of Browsers being used. The other few percent
are mostly specialty Browsers used for a specific function although
there are still some alternative and original Browsers still being
So why is it wrong to use either of these Browsers? The reason is
because there are enough differences between how these Browsers
will display a page that it is imperative that you test your Web Page
creations with both. If for example, you import HTML into your
page with a script error, you may find it works just fine when viewed
in IE. Visitors to your site using NN may see a jumbled mess and
leave wondering what your site was all about. The reason is that IE
is far more forgiving of Script Errors than Netscape.
As we mentioned last week, the W3C is responsible for defining the
standards that the Browsers are supposed to conform to when
displaying web pages. This only works so far. There are many things
that the standards do not address and other things that either the
browser manufacturer will not or can not conform to. In addition,
the manufacturers like to include add-on features that the "other"
manufacturer does not have.
In addition to the difference in the way the Browsers handle errors,
there are many stylistic differences in the way they will display a
page. As was noted last week, Netscape will display background text
color only behind the text while Internet Explorer will fill the entire
bounding box. Other differences include Border Styles, Fill styles
and Scroll Bar styles. There are many more and probably no one
knows them all.
The only way to know how your page is going to appear to a user is
to test it the way a user may see it. This means installing both
Browsers on your machine. (Yes it is possible.) You should also test
with different system resolutions and with both Large and Small
system fonts. On Windows platforms the worst resolution is either
640x480 or 800x600 with large fonts. You should also test with
different color resolutions. That JPEG image that looks great at 24
bits may look awful at 256 color resolution. Ask your friends and
colleagues to test your pages and do the same for them.
Both Netscape and Microsoft are working on major updates to their
Browsers that will conform to a standard DOM (Document Object
Model) as specified by the W3C. This will hopefully address the
most significant incompatibility between the Browsers which relates
to Dynamic HTML. (IMS insulates its users from the worst of this.)
One thing is for certain however. While there is more than one
computer user visiting your web site, there will be more than one
way to see it. You must test across as many possible configurations
"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on
creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.