You’ve built out your brand, designed your website, and are ready to take it live. All good, right? Not quite. There is a critical step that’s important to build into your process and carefully test before you can confidently set your new website loose: ensuring that your site will work on most major browsers. While it may not be the most exciting part of designing and building a new website, if not accounted for, it can make your website unusable for some visitors.
What is Cross-Browser Compatibility?
Cross-browser compatibility is “the ability of a website or web application to function across different browsers and degrade gracefully when browser features are absent or lacking.” Basically, cross-browser compatibility just means making sure that your website works no matter what browser a visitor to your site is using. Depending on how you develop your website - with a template, fully custom, or some combination of the two - you may have laid a foundation of cross-browser compatibility. Whether you’ve intentionally built in this compatibility from the start or not, it’s important to test to make sure no matter what browser someone is using, your site is displaying properly.
Wait, Why is this Happening?
All browsers are built a little bit differently. Simply,
"a website is just a set of instructions describing how a site should look. It's up to the browser to render it by reading the entire code of your website and producing a certain output. There are, however, differences in the code interpretation and different browsers will render the same page slightly differently." - SiteGround
Different browsers come with slightly different styles and features, and there are some strong geographical trends in what browsers are most popular.
What are the Main Browsers I Need to Worry About?
This interactive chart shows recent trends in several countries and regions across the globe. As you’ll see, Google Chrome is the most popular browser almost everywhere, but after that things get a little more complicated. If most of your audience is in the US, the top three browsers are Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, followed very closely by Microsoft Edge. If you have an audience in Asia, Chrome and Safari hold on to the #1 and #2 spots, but #3 is held by UC Browser, a “web browser developed by the Singapore/China-based mobile Internet company UCWeb…[that] is more popular than Google’s Chrome in some of Asia’s fastest-growing markets like India and Indonesia.”
Google, Firefox, Safari, and UC Browser logos
You don’t have to test compatibility with every browser that exists, but it’s definitely worth understanding the main browsers your audience might be using and making sure that your site will run smoothly however the majority of your visitors are accessing the internet.
Nice, So Now My Site Will Work for Everyone?
Well, pretty much. Once you’ve tested cross-browser compatibility for your site, it’s probably time to start thinking about testing responsiveness (but one step at a time…) The goal for any website should be for clear communication and connection with an audience. By making sure visitors to your site can access and view your website as it was designed, you’re facilitating that communication and making sure that nothing is lost in translation. Cross-browser compatibility is truly a critical step in the website design and development process to make sure you and your audience are getting the most out of your site.