Most website developers would tell you that one of the hardest parts of their job is cross platform compatibility.

There is nothing worse than developing a website on a latest browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or even IE 9+, and then checking it on a mobile or older versioned browser to find that everything is out of place or even broken.

This is commonly due to developers using HTML and CSS elements that just aren’t available in older browsers. Even parts of JavaScript can cause conflicts in different versions of Internet Explorer.

This doesn’t just stop at  desktop browser compatibility however, as the popularity of the mobile web means developers now have to support mobile devices when working responsively.

For example, websites such as caniuse.com enable developers to quickly check a HTML or CSS element and see what browsers it is available in – http://caniuse.com/#feat=css-animation

However, it’s not only older browsers that developers have to worry about. There are differences between even the latest ones. Whilst most of the time they will be subtle, some elements can be problematic from one browser to another.

For these reasons, some web agencies won’t bother considering browser compatibility and sometimes won’t even check other browsers than the one they use.

This could be due to them only wanting to work with the latest web technologies and being set in their ways in thinking that everyone has access to the same browsers they do.

Website Frameworks such as Bootstrap created by Twitter do not help with this mentality, as each installment of their framework takes away a version of Internet explorer support.

However there are many ways to support older browsers and integrate them into a developers work flow. Whilst page speeds will be slightly heavier due to additional scripts being loaded, developers can include JavaScript libraries to enable many elements that aren’t available to older browsers.

For example:

• Jquery – Makes JavaScript simpler and enables it to work in nearly every browser. It also has work arounds to many elements such as CSS pseudo classes that aren’t available in older browsers

• Moderniser – Enables developers to write conditional code that checks what browser the user is using and then displays the supported elements and shows the work arounds for those which aren’t

• HTML Shiv / Shim – Enables a large amount of HTML 5 elements to work within older browsers and also applies basic styling to them.

• CSS Pie – Enables a varied amount of CSS 3 elements such as border-radius to work within older browsers

• Respond – Enables older sites that don’t support responsive design to interoperate CSS 3 media queries

At Cornerstone we actively support all browsers to the best of their capability and do our utmost to make each website accessible in them.

Whilst this job is not always the easiest or the quickest, we understand that each client has their own requirements and user base. If a client such as a government sector organisation is locked down to an IE6 – IE8 infrastructure then it is no good having a site that only works on later browsers.

In short I would say, if you can upgrade or use a newer browser then always do, (This is the same with IOS or Android updates to your mobile phone but always make backups were possible). My personal preference would be Google Chrome or Firefox. It will not only make your web experience more enjoyable but also potentially make it more secure. If you can’t, then don’t worry. You may have already seen what this blog post has addressed and you may not always find it easy to access certain websites, however, any good web agency will always support your needs.

Cornerstone DM