While writing and designing your website you need to keep in mind the various web browsers which one can find out there. Simply because you use, say, Internet Explorer version 7 that does not mean that your visitors will also be using IE7. Countless web users are still using Internet Explorer 6 (still roughly 26% at the point in time I am writing this).

Actually, the top 10 browsers by market share (according to Net Applications) are:

IE6 - 26.2%
Firefox - 23.7%
IE7 - 19.9%
IE8 - 19.9%
Safari - 4.2%
Chrome -3.2%
Opera - 2.4%
Netscape -.3%
Mozilla -.1%
Konqueror and
IE5 -.04%

Okay, I know the percentages do not add up to 100%, but that is due to rounding. It is still close enough to give you an idea.

As you can see you are going to need to test your site on a number of different browsers to make sure that at least the majority of visitors can see what you have to offer. What is the point of limiting your market to just IE7 (just because that is what you use). You could potentially be restricting your market to 20% of internet users, which is just not enough.

One option is to install multiple browsers on your computer, this will work for some of the but not others. For example, I believe that you can only install Internet Explorer once on each windows machine. If you have more than one Windows machine around (like say a laptop or netbook) then you can have each one with a different version.

One other problem is testing Mac browsers on a Windows machine and vice versa. There are online solutions to that issue and I will go into them later.

As for the other browsers, it is easy to install each one on your computer, just do a web search to find out where to download each one and install it. You may decide to skip the last few on the list as they account for such a tiny amount of internet users, I will leave that decision up to you.

Now when you update or write a new page for your website, or when you are starting with a new design, check how it looks and handles on each of the different browsers you have installed. Watch for anything that just doesn't look right. One of the biggest problems is with your CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) especially with IE8.

Fixing all the bugs you find during your test will save you a lot of frustration in the future. Doing this test before you have 100's of pages online which only work in IE7 will save you so much time in later repairs.

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Posted by Jenny on Wednesday, September 7, 2011