How Many Browsers Should Your Site Support?

Browser Usage by CountriesChrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer are the top 3 browsers by usage, according to W3Schools. (BTW, Another great resource to check browser popularity by country is statcounter.)

By default, Acism tries to make a site (or a web application) work for the most widely used versions, so that most users in the world will be able to look at the site in their favorite browsers. However, there is no point in trying to support all versions of all browsers. If one tried to do so, then the site would not have any of the modern conveniences like AJAX, because older browsers did not support Javascript.

Out of all the browsers, Internet Explorer (IE) is the most painful for a web developer. Not only that it’s not standard compliant, it also has inconsistencies among different versions. Supporting it involves almost duplicating the existing css (and even changing the site design). Some web sites will use a special CSS just for IE.

While each browser has its own idiosyncrasies, IE has the most.

If you take out Internet Explorer (IE) from the mix, it would bring down the web developer’s effort by 30% or more. Supporting less number of browsers also has the advantage that you will be able to use some good-looking effects in your site that may not work across other browsers.

Some people specify “This site is best viewed with ***” on their site home page. This is done either to save development effort (which means money for the customer), or to support rich effects. To the extreme of of this, there are examples of Chrome-specific sites. The doctrine is that Chrome is free anyways, so why should the users not download it and use it?

Thus, there are pros and cons of both approaches — supporting multiple browsers vs supporting only a small set of them. It is up to the context of each application that this decision needs to be made wisely.

One median could be to use high browser compatibility for the public pages of the site. Those are the pages which one may access without doing any sort of login, and they are typically meant for general information and inviting people to sign up (or to place order or whatever). The logic is clear – a customer may come to a site through one of many possible channels (like, say google search), and she should not be put off by a site that appears distorted. As opposed to that, the private pages — or inner pages as some people call them (which are accessible only to logged in users) — may be best viewed only with a few restricted browsers.

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6 Responses so far.

  1. Roxanna says:

    It’s really great that popele are sharing this information.

    • Xiomara says:

      I would avoid Internet Explorer as much as possible as I felt that it was a very badly wtrtien piece of software.Firefox is my primary browser of choice as it is highly customisable with its wide array of plugins.However, one can get carried away with too many tabs and plugins resulting in the hogging of internal memory and CPU dragging the entire system down to a crawl.Chrome is a good choice but I felt the product is not mature enough to serve my everyday needs. Well, not yet anyway.Opera is a very speedy browser too but I have a hard time getting used to its interface.If you are more adventurous, you can also try Sea Monkey which is my No.2 browser.

  2. Jon Brady says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if it’s OK to copy some of the text in my site?

  3. Hello there, I discovered your website by way of Google even as searching for a similar topic, your site got here up, it looks great. I’ve bookmarked to my favourites|added to bookmarks.

  4. Leroy Glass says:

    Hi, nice article. I really like it!

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