The importance of often checking your site in different browsers

When was the last time you checked your blog or website in different browsers? How do you know that your site is performing as expected in said browsers.

Nowadays everyone is using a different browser. 98% of the market share is taken up by the four major browsers. That being Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

The problem

So, how does your current site perform in the multitude of browsers that are out there? Why is this important?

Well I found out the hard way. Being a web developer, I should have known better. I know my blog had performed well across multiple browsers before, but the last time I checked was more than a year ago, perhaps even two.

The problem is that things change. Standards change. All those widgets and functionality on our sites rely on external code. These also change.

The result is that our sites might not perform as expected anymore.

I had this problem. I found out that my blog was not working correctly under Internet Explorer. The divs were pushed out way to the right, resulting in content being hidden.

The problem I thought was down to Disqus commenting system. You see they had made some changes over the last few months which caused my site to go belly up.

The reason why I never saw this was because I normally use Firefox, and the blog looked good in Firefox. In fact it worked perfectly in Chrome and Opera.

But Internet explorer is a huge percentage of visitors to my site, so I probably was losing hundreds of visitors per day because the site was not displaying correctly.

The reason, not solely the problem of Disqus but a change in the doctype and standards used. The doctype that I used on my site was outdated, causing explorer to render in quirks mode. Thereby causing the problem.

As soon as I changed the doctype on my pages, the site performed as expected.

You see each browser runs their own rendering engine – this is what causes the differences between the different browsers.

How does your site perform?

So how does your site perform in multiple browsers. Sometimes it is very difficult to test, because we don’t have the luxury of having all these browsers installed.

If you don’t want to install all the major browsers out there on your own personal machine, here are some resources to help you out.

Adobe Browser Lab – Adobe Browser lab offers a great solution for viewing on demand screenshots of your site.

Browsershots – Makes screenshots of your web design in many different browsers. After you submit your URL, it gives you a url where your screenshots will be uploaded.

Browser Sandbox – Runs an application to view your site in a variety of browsers.

Browsrcamp – Allows you to test the compatibility of your design with Mac OS X browsers.

IE Tester – A free Web Browser that allows you to check how your site looks on IE8, IE7 IE 6 and IE5.5 on Windows 7, Vista and XP.

So when was the last time you checked your site? Why not do it now. Let me know what the outcome was.

I hope that this has encouraged you to keep up with the changes.

Robert Bravery is a professional programmer, Web site Developer and professional blogger for Integral Web Solutions.