Browser support confusion

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by andyjamesnelson, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. andyjamesnelson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    Jacob's house
    #1
    Hey I've been reading around browser support issues and I'm left a little confused...

    I hear that the largest % of web users are on IE. This doesn't seem to support various aspects of CSS.

    (personally I use Safari).

    So am I right in thinking that some designers just say ".... it" and design pages that use code that won't be understood by IE etc or is it common practice to only use aspects of CSS that are understood by all browsers?

    Also why doesn't IE support as much as Safari - why wouldn't they want their browser to understand CSS fully?

    Andy
     
  2. J@ffa macrumors 6502a

    J@ffa

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2002
    Location:
    Behind you!
    #2
    Sort of. It really depends on the target demographic of your visitors. If, say, MacRumors had a redesign that didn't work on Internet Explorer, however unlikely that is, obviously the vast majority wouldn't notice and any Windows users that view a site like this would typically be using Firefox or the like. Indeed, some sites take pride in the fact that they're standards-compliant and broken in IE*. On the other hand, a major commerce site (think Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart) wouldn't dream of having a site that was incompatible with IE. I think these days the aim is to code for IE and Firefox, and other stuff if people are lucky.

    Really, though, it's rare for a site to be so totally broken it's unusable. Typically it's only the tech savvy who would browse to a site, and know why text is overlapping with the border on the edge of a page. Truthfully, most people wouldn't even notice, since they are of a mindset that think FrontPage-designed sites look good. Hey, we were all there once! As for Microsoft, their motives are a mystery to most. If they acted at all logically or even intelligently, things would probably be very different. My guess is web standards aren't their priority, since (at least for the moment) they are *the* standard, sad as that is.

    *From DF's 'about' page: If Daring Fireball looks like s**t in your browser, you’re using a s****y browser that doesn’t support web standards. Internet Explorer, I’m looking in your direction. If you complain about this, I will laugh at you, because I do not care. If, however, you are using a modern, standards-compliant browser and have trouble viewing or reading Daring Fireball, please do let me know.
     
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    IE has been around for a while. The standards kind of came about around 10 years ago (very young still), but there were only two browsers for a long time before that (IE and Netscape/Mosaic), and IE beat Netscape in the first browser war. With IE being the only real browser out it became the "standard." The standards were slower than they are now in making changes. Microsoft, in a relatively good thinking, became to try an innovate and create new "standards" for web design. Since they were the only browser, people didn't care.

    Eventually Firefox came around as people got bored of IE6 as it got very stale and Firefox supported standards and gave new life to the standards. This has lead to the second browser wars and involves more browsers. IE has been slow to adopt the standards at first because "if it ain't broken, don't fix it." When Firefox started making a dent in IE's market share of web browsers IE took notice. Internally they wanted to make the change, but unfortunately they had their own "standards" in place, which are incompatible with true standards. If IE6 were to all of the sudden obey standards, most of the web sites out would break. That's been one of the biggest issues with IE7, it fixed some things while breaking existing sites that were made for IE. IE8 is suppose to accommodate standards and still not break older sites by doing fanciness checking of the site to see what "mode" it will try to display the page with.

    Personally I don't make any extra effort to support to IE on my personal site, and it looks fugly because of that, and I'm OK with that. I give those users a message about it and tell them to get a real browser. For site I do for other people though I make them look at least decent in IE. IE's lack of CSS support is only effecting the look of the page. All of the functionality should still be there no matter what. Some people use conditional checks for IE and give the page an extra CSS file to make changes to fix IE, but others don't. There's no right or wrong there, it's a decision you have to make as a designer.

    I figure if I design by standards, it future-proofs my site for a while. Older sites that are IE designed are on the other hand starting to break, some times breaking horribly bad, even in newer IE releases. So I usually suggest to designers to start with standards, be conscious of where IE will have issues and decide how you want to accommodate IE.

    Additional readings:
    http://www.webstandards.org/about/history/
    http://www.quirksmode.org/oddsandends/history_webdev.html
    http://www.w3.org/Consortium/history
    http://www.webmonkey.com/tutorial/Web_Standards_for_Beginners
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Internet_Explorer
     
  4. andyjamesnelson thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    Jacob's house
    #4
    Thanks for that guys. Anglewatt your answer was particularly helpful - thanks. Andy
     

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