What does cross browser compatibility mean?

When your site appears the same on all browsers, it is called cross browser compatibility. This can be used to make a website look and perform in the same way across the different browsers that people use. Cross browser compatibility is a very important aspect of web design that is normally ignored by most designers.

What are the different cross browser compatibility issues?

There can be four major cross browser compatibility issues:

• Though all browsers will follow W3C standards, they may not be the same. Some of them may treat HTML, CSS and JavaScript differently.

• Other than the basic design, any other enhancement or deviation from the W3C standards will be treated differently by different browsers.

• There can be differences in the way the graphics and other aspects of a site are handled by the operating system on which the browser runs.

• The resolution of the screen on which the site is viewed can also make a difference.

How can one ensure cross browser compatibility?

Though some designers may ignore it, there are various web design companies that give a lot of importance to cross browser compatibility. There are many things that can be done on a site in order to make sure that it does not face any issues with cross browser compatibility. It may not always be possible to make sure that a site opens correctly and performs well on all the browsers and its variations that are available. However, one can try and ensure that a site will behave and look the same on most of the browsers that are used by people. One can follow the steps given below to ensure cross browser compatibility:

• It is important to understand the similarities and differences that are there in the different browsers and their variations.

• It is important to choose the right HTML editor. Some of the editors can add lines of codes which can lead to compatibility issues.

• Though using style sheets like CSS will help you to control how your site looks, it may not be compatible with all the browsers. The person who designs your website should make sure that he/she chooses a style sheet that is compatible with most browsers and will have very little impact on the site.

• Browsers that are designed for the blind and many mobile browsers will not support flash. Hence, designers should know that though it can add to the aesthetic appeal of the site, flash may not be supported by all browsers.

• If you are using images on the site, they should have an ALT attribute. If not, they can create the same problems that Flash will create.

• The code used to create your site should be clean. There should not be any element in the code that can be understood differently by different browsers.

• It is important for the designer to ensure that the website is complaint with W3C standards. This may not always be easy because there may be some elements on the site that may not be permitted. However, one must remember that the more compliant the site is with the W3C standards, the lesser compatibility issues it will face.

• Once the site the ready, the last thing that needs to be done is to test the site on as many different browsers as possible. One can use the many free and paid tools to test the site.

A website may not be 100% compatible to all the browsers even if the designer follows all the steps that are given above. However, what is important is that the site behaves consistently on most of the browsers. It may not be very bad for the site if there are minor differences on how it appears on different browsers. At large, the site should look and perform consistently on as many browsers and their variations as possible. It may not be possible for you to look into all these matters and ensure cross browser compatibility on your own. At such times, you may hire a professional web design company who is aware of the various issues that a site may face on different browsers and also knows how to tackle these issues.

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