A web browser is essentially a translator. The browser takes a look at the HTML code of the website and then translates the code into something the user can understand. The problem is while HTML has some basic standards, there is now room for interpretation, which can cause some interesting problems for programmers. Its important to test out your website on ALL major browsers before publishing it. With that said, its almost impossible to make a website look identical and function identical on each browser. This is in part because web browsers are competing for your business so they create their own extensions, tags and attributes, altering the “standard”.
Another problem with web browsers and problems with some web pages is that not all users “update” every time there is a new version of their favorite browser. This can cause website to look and function differently. Web browsers do need to be updated occasionally in part because they support new great advances in web development. And old example is the Cascading Style Sheets or CSS. Much older browsers don’t support this and that is a problem since many of us designers use CSS.
Another thing to consider is that websites do look different on a Mac over a PC and different screen sizes affect a website. All of these things should be considered when designing a website. I always recommend to anyone building a new site to avoid “state of the art” and keep things simple. This so no matter who opens your site on any machine, using any browser can enjoy exploring your website without frustration.
Also, you should understand which browsers work better on which machines. For example, Safari, I imagine is pretty useless on the PC (I don’t know, never tried it on a PC) and I do know IE is pretty useless on a Mac.
Besides understanding that your website needs to be seen on all these sites, you as an end user have to decide which browser you want to use, and there are some good choices. When looking at web browsers you want to consider speed, security, how easy is it for you to use and whether or not it is flexible and expandable?
I’m going to start by saying that whatever you like to use, use it. It’s like anything else, many roads to OZ. I’m going to discuss a few basic things about the most popular web browsers and what my personal experience has been.
Lets look at what seems to be the most popular: Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Chrome. I have used all of these, but keep in mind that since I switched to a Mac I no longer use Internet Explorer unless I have to on a PC computer.
Firefox is a pretty powerful browser and has a built in firewall. Firefox has some cool features. I liked that the Google search in the menu bar and how you can sync your bookmarks, passwords, etc., on other computers. I wasn’t too fond of the “add-ons” and most them only messed up the way my browser functioned, but others love the add-ons. Firefox is pretty fast, but your Internet connection also can affect your browsing ability. As far as security goes, I like that it can prevent login from being intercepted and you can block websites from installing cookies. I know I barely tapped the abilities of Firefox, but I have chosen to go with a different browser for now.
Moving on to Apple’s Safari. Well, I use it on my iPad and it is just fine for that, but I recently tried it on my new iMac and I found that I could not do certain things. For example, when I tried to upload books to Pubit, it got hung up…every time. What I do like about Safari is the home page set up. Kind of cool to see your browsing history that way. Safari is also very fast, again depending on your connection, but I found it to be faster than any other browser. I like that you can have the Google search in the menu bar as well. Overall, not my favorite.
Internet Explorer. Well, its useless on the Mac. They stopped developing it, but it’s a good browser for PC users. From what I can see on a PC, the latest edition (9) is very clean and simple, which is good. I like the “Discover other sites you might like” icon. That’s kind of cool. I love the one box search feature (don’t have to go to the Google search in the menu bar) but you can do that in Firefox as well. I’ve heard that crashing has been nearly eliminated (something that happened often to me back in my PC days and sometimes happened with Firefox—annoying). I do think the add-ons are a little better than in Firefox, but I really don’t have much experience anymore with Internet Explorer. IE also has pretty good security.
Finally, lets look at Google Chrome. I find Chrome to be wickedly fast, even on my slow Internet. I love the instant search feature. Makes for browsing easy for someone like me who does a lot of key word searches. It’s a very clean design and simple, which I love. Safari and Firefox seem over crowded to me. In the past, Chrome had issues with security, but it appears most of the issues have been dealt with. I like the way the tabs work more so than in Safari and Firefox. It also can sync passwords etc., from another browser. So when I switched from Safari to Chrome, Chrome asked me which browser I wanted to pull information over, so that was cool. I think Chrome is going to give all the other browsers a run for their money.
Just because I like one over the other doesn’t mean its what you should do. I will make only recommendation when it comes to picking a web browser—update it when new versions come out. Sure, sometimes their fixes create other problems, but generally speaking, these tweaks are worth updating for.