Browser Compatibility Circa 2011

Building websites for professional firms, one of our ongoing challenges is browser compatibility. What looks gorgeous on one browser may be disjointed and glitchy on another. The classic problem being drop-down menus. As a lawyer at a web design company, its interesting to look back with nostalgia on the earlier days of Netscape vs. Internet Explorer.  Monopolistic behaviour made testing websites comparatively easy.

The browser market is now thriving and we are increasingly faced with the question of which browsers we will support. This doesn’t mean that unsupported browsers won’t display the site, only that we won’t be testing on them.

Debugging in Action

In case you’ve never seen website testing/debugging in action, it looks something like musical chairs. We have Windows machines, various Apple computers, and a collection of smartphones in our office. Once your site works properly on one browser, we move to the next. It can be a very time consuming and frustrating experience.  The proliferation of smart phones and tablets has further exacerbated things (although less moving about is required). To simplify this process, we have reviewed July’s browser stats (Courtest of Ars Technica) and come to some conclusions. [Note: these stats are relatively close to what we’ve seen in analytics for our clients. The only notable difference is that we see slightly more Safari and slightly less Chrome.]

Image via Ars Technica.

Supported Browsers

Accordingly, subject to special requests, we will be testing our new websites on the following browsers:

This should cover about 85%+ of the market.

We don’t use much Flash in our sites and have not yet had any iPad specific testing requirements. While testing on tablets will become increasingly common, we currently find that most bugs are resolved between smart phones and full computers. 

This list will age quickly and we will eventually be forced to trim some legacy browsers. Goodbye IE6, it has been a pleasure.


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