In the last couple of decades, website use has grown exponentially. Over 1.8 billion websites have already been created worldwide, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to this, people access this content through thousands of web-enabled devices that run on unique browsers because of the increasing fragmentation of devices.
Before we can understand how to develop web applications that are cross-browser compatible, we must first understand why it’s so important to make sure your website is cross-browser compatible in the first place. A website that is cross-browser compatible appears in the same way across all devices with access to the Internet, regardless of the type of device. To claim cross-browser compatibility, websites are expected to support browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer and other not so popular browsers. A website must work flawlessly on multiple devices and browsers. A seamless user experience is essential to attracting and retaining customers.
The following are some ways developers can build a cross-browser compatible website:
Define Valid Doctype
Doctype helps your browser to recognize in which language is your website’s code written. If you don’t specify that, some smart browsers will understand it themselves, but some dumb browsers will not be able to figure out what happened, and they may render some elements of your website in an unexpected way. When you don’t specify, the browser has to guess, and different browsers will guess differently. When you design in “strict mode,” Internet Explorer 6 and above will behave much like Firefox, Safari, and other modern browsers.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN”
Otherwise, Internet Explorer runs in a “quirks mode” that emulates the behaviour of older browsers.
The semantics of HTML5 are important
All major browsers, except Internet Explorer (IE) and Opera Mini, support HTML Semantic Elements such as section, article, aside, header, footer, nav, figure, figcaption, time, mark and main. Older versions of Chrome, Safari, Opera, Android Browser, Firefox, and Opera Mobile partially support HTML5 Semantic Elements. However, the initial version 2 of Firefox and versions 6 to 8 of Internet Explorer do not support HTML5 Semantic Elements.
Thus, when developing a website it would be advantageous to use only elements supported by most browsers. Elements that are not fully supported by all browsers should be avoided or tailored to fit into a consistent user experience.
Different browsers behave differently based on their default CSS rules. While one style may work on one browser, it will look different on another. You must define CSS explicitly for the same behaviour across browsers.
For example, you may have seen that many times submit buttons look differently on different browsers that is because of CSS. If some of the elements do not render properly in different browsers, then it may be due to CSS. By applying CSS reset, you instruct every browser to remove the styling to default CSS which causes incompatibility between browsers. The very famous Eric Meyer’s CSS reset can be used to resolve this browser incompatibility problem. You can also use CSS resets such as normalize.css.
Make use of cross-browser friendly libraries and frameworks
As soon as you have taken all the necessary coding precautions, it is time to validate your website. HTML and CSS validators can help you with this. Your code will be checked for mistakes and improvements so it won’t break.
When a website is designed and developed, it becomes imperative to use different rules so that it works across almost all browsers. Using Microsoft’s Conditional Comments mechanism, you can apply different CSS Styles and scripts depending on the browser and fix most of the errors related to the use of the website across different browser versions. Implementing this can greatly reduce cross-browser compatibility issues.
Test cross-browser compatibility using cloud-based platforms
Cross-browser compatibility testing is crucial to ensure consistent UX on a website across multiple browsers and platforms. The tester can detect possible inconsistencies in the UX between browser versions by performing cross-browser tests on real devices and browsers. These issues can later be fixed on the backend.
You can also choose to use cloud-based testing platforms like BrowserStack, which provide access to a fleet of 2000+ desktop browsers and real mobile devices for cross-browser and cross-platform testing.
The purpose of this article is to give you an overview of cross-browser compatibility issues and how they can be addressed. There are more than 2000 different web browsers on the market for people to choose from. So, it becomes a challenge to make the website work correctly across all of the web browsing platforms.
In the case of a website developed with the latest scripts, the code should be downgraded gracefully for older browsers. That way, the site will be visible and functional on older browsers. Thus, a well-developed website should perform well across all platforms. Looking for experienced professionals to help you build your site? Prime Expression Services can fulfil all your needs and achieve the results you want. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.