Over the last couple of months, I’ve been updating this website, changing the overall look and feel, adding the blog and uploading some (hopefully) useful utilities and document templates.
When you’re writing a website, your primary concern is to ensure that it is accessible to as many people as possible. This doesn’t just mean conforming to the WCAG standards where possible, but also making the website cross platform compatible. In this instance, cross platform means a combination of both the web browser and the operating system.
My primary OS is Windows 7 (64 bit) and I do most of my development by checking with the latest version of Google Chrome. When I am writing code, I always try to follow the standards for whichever version of HTML I am writing. Over the years, I have worked in HTML 3.2, 4.01, XHTML 1.0 and now HTML 5 with CSS 3. So once I am happy with the design and feel in Chrome, I validate it across a number of browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Android default browser, Konqueror, Opera) and OS’ (Windows, Android, IOS 5.1, Ubuntu). The list isn’t exhaustive, but I have limited time on my hands, and my site isn’t central to my business: it just needs to look half-decent. However, I also use Browsershots to check that I’m not alienating a huge number of people.
Of all the browsers I have checked, Internet Explorer stands out like a sore thumb (It’s on a par with Netscape Navigator 9, which says something!). This shouldn’t really surprise me, as Microsoft themselves have recommended that people no longer use Internet Explorer 6. What does surprise me is that Internet Explorer has not really got much better three versions on. If you take a look at the image below, this is a screenshot of the downloads page, firstly in Google Chrome 18, and the second in Internet Explorer 9. Rather a large difference in presentation, yet the website meets the HTML 5 validation standard.
There’s rather a simple, yet elegant website, called HTML5 Test that checks your browser compatibility with HTML 5. The website itself is quick to point out that not everything is validated, and of course the interpretation of how valid a browser may be is subjective. However, when Google Chrome 18 comes in with a score of 400 out of a possible 500, yet Internet Explorer only scores 138, questions should be asked. Considering that Microsoft made Internet Explorer the default browser in Windows for more than a decade, and the majority of home users rarely venture to try anything else, I would argue that Microsoft actually have a duty to adhere to, and implement international web standards, or failing that, actively recommend that users move to a more compatible browser.
It’s nice to see that Internet Explorer will be more compatible but it still lags some way behind a number of the other browsers. For Microsoft of course, there is no money to made from Internet Explorer. What this means is that the public in general either have a poor experience of the web, or web developers have to go the extra mile to ensure compatibility with Internet Explorer.
I’m in favour of the former. I won’t be changing my website just as a sop to the inadequacies of Internet Explorer. I would recommend you try out any number of better, more compatible web browsers and abandon Internet Explorer completely. And if you don’t, you may not be able to download content from my website.