Imagine building an elaborate meal with all kinds of ingredients. You copied the recipe off of pinterest and just had to try it, so you invited some friends over to share the meal with you. You then work all day in the kitchen, finally laying out an impressive spread of food for yourself and 3 other friends. Then, as you start passing around the food, you find out that one friend is deathly allergic to avocados, one of your main ingredients, and another guest breaks out in hives at even the hint of peanuts, which is in the sauce. So 50% of your guests cannot eat this great meal that you spent all day cooking without major modifications. How frustrated would you be?
The complicated world of browser compatibility
If you are building website, this happens all of the time, except not with 3 guests, but with over 100! Most people only think of Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, and Chrome, but there are multiple versions of each that can act differently as improvements and updates were made. Then, have you ever heard of Opera, Comodo Dragon, SlimBrowser, SRWare Iron, Maxthon, or Waterfox? The are all highly rated browsers that have thousands of downloads on download.com alone. And we haven’t even mentioned mobile browsers on Apple, Android, and Windows phones and tablets, or the differences between operating systems like Mac, Windows/PC, Ubuntu, or Chrome.
Web browsers all work in different ways to display websites, whether it’s reading the formatting a certain way, using java or flash differently, or displaying boxes or tables in different ways. Also, jQuery, which is used to automate or animate on websites, only goes back so far with browser compatibility, Whether you are building a website from straight html/css or using a content management system like Joomla or WordPress, this is always a consideration when you want your site to look and function correctly to the highest percentage of users.
Tools that can help
How can you do this? There’s a variety of tools out there, such as browsershots.org or quirksmode.org that can show you what your site will look like on a varity of browsers and give you some resources to correct issues on as many platforms as possible. There is also responsive web design, which looks at what browser you are using in order to display the website correctly. This has been a nice advance in web technology, but it also adds time and resources to cover as many browsers as possible, and can add a lot of code to your site. A good guide to this is here.
Easing the frustration
However, the best way is to let a web consultant do this for you; they deal with it every day and have the tricks to make sure your site is fully operational and looking great for as many people or customers as possible. You can have less frustration and focus your talents to why you need a website in the first place.