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Website Woes: Different Web Browsers Create Different Experiences

Different Web Browsers Create Different Experiences

Imagine this: you hire us to develop a new website for your company and are eager to check it out when we send you the link. You fire up your PC, enter the web address and your heart stops; the site doesn’t look or function as you expected. You give us a call, and we ask what web browser you are using. Why does this matter?

When you access the internet, you do so through a browser such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Edge, Opera or a handful of others. It’s important to know, however, that all web browsers are not created equally, and the differences affect how websites look and work.

Differences between Web Browsers (And Why You Should Ditch IE)

The two biggest differences between web browsers are support and rendering:

  • Support includes scheduled updates such as security updates, bug fixes and adding new CSS, HTML, JavaScript and other special functionality to the browser.
  • The rendering engine is how a web page is drawn—taking the main elements of HTML, styling them based on CSS, and adding additional functionality via JavaScript.

Let’s talk about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as an example. Most PCs have Internet Explorer (IE) as the default browser. But Microsoft no longer supports IE 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, so they have not added security patches and functionality since 2016. Thye only support IE 11 in the most rudimentary way possible, or security/backward compatibility purposes, so it does not render websites very well.

In addition, there are rendering standards set by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium, which sets international standards. These are constantly updated, improved, depreciated and tweaked because the languages that support the internet are like a living document that changes over time. If a browser, such as is the case with IE, decides to not include some standards, the users of that browser can’t see the page’s animation or layout that was created based on those standards.

In order to get a website to look and function properly for people using IE, web developers must either eliminate some functionality or duplicate their time and efforts—which affects your timeline and budget. That’s why we recommend you avoid using IE in any variant as your browser (about 3.5% of users still do); it simply does not render websites very well. (Microsoft also does not recommend IE and is now offering Edge.)

The Right Web Browser for You

So which web browser should you use as your default? In many ways, it depends on personal preference. They all offer different options in terms of tabs/pinned tabs, bookmarks, plugins, extensions, and customization options to reduce the amount of screen space the browser interface takes up.

You can’t really go wrong using Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari and Edge (click on any name to learn more and download for free) as long as you keep the browser up-to-date by allowing it to auto-update (they push fixes/tweaks/features almost daily). Some browsers do a better job rendering pages faster or more securely, but all of these most popular browsers do well enough. Our top choice is Chrome—it’s the preferred choice for the majority of desktop and mobile users, and the second choice, behind Safari, for tablet users.

When we develop websites, we review them using the five browsers listed above to check for responsiveness, rendering and appearance. While there might be slight differences between browsers, we’ll make sure your site looks and responds as designed and as expected, allowing you to put your best foot forward with your customers.

If you have any questions about browsers or website design, give us a call.