Does your website work in older browsers?

By: John McGarvey

Date: 27 October 2014

Browserline in action{{}}Being a web developer isn’t always easy. One of the harder aspects of the job is making sure a website looks right in as many different internet browsers as possible.

This is important because statistics show significant numbers of people use older browsers. For instance, figures suggest around 22% of people use version 8 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, even though version 11 is the latest.

Browser versions matter

Different types and versions of web browsers interpret HTML code in their own ways. While the fundamentals remain the same, your website can end up looking and functioning differently on different computers.

Small issues may not matter, but sometimes the problems can be severe. Older web browsers lack advanced functions, which can render particularly whizzy sites difficult or impossible to use.

All this means that, if you’re creating a new website, you’ll want to make sure it works in a wide range of browsers.

Get it in writing

Ultimately, the only way to be sure is to test your website with different browser types and versions.

This time-consuming task is best left to experts. If you’re working with a freelance web developer or an agency, make sure your contract specifies which browsers your website will function in.

Alternatively, if you’ve chosen to use a website creator tool or a platform like WordPress, make sure any templates or designs you’ve chosen have been thoroughly tested with different browsers.

Then test it yourself

That’s not all you can do though. These days, some excellent tools are available to show you what your site looks like in different web browsers.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to exhaustively test your site in all combinations of browser. But you can certainly gain confidence that your website looks ok in the most common browser types.

First up is Browsershots. Enter your website address on the homepage and it will generate screenshots showing your site in an enormous range of browsers. It’s a good way to get a quick snapshot of any major problems, although it won’t help you test out functionality.

You can also try Browserling. This enables you to interact with your website within the browser type and version you choose. As a result, you can see how your site functions as well as how it looks.

The bad news? The range of browsers available with Browserling is restricted unless you pay. But it’s still a great way to gain confidence that your site works on other platforms.

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