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There’s more to life than Internet Explorer

It still surprises me how many web designers must only look at their pages in Internet Explorer, because when you use other browsers, they can look very odd indeed. For preference, when we are browsing the web, Jean uses Firefox and I use Seamonkey which is from the same Mozilla stable. Both adhere closely to published standards and are growing in popularity: it varies from website to website but, for example, 10% of visitors to Anne Fine’s website now use Firefox and for the Crimewriters’ Association it’s 15%. Other browsers are also out there, in particular Mac users will almost certainly use Safari. The result is that Internet Explorer’s share is dropping. Our most recent figure for the CWA website shows that only 62.3% of visitors were using Internet Explorer.

None of this would matter if Internet Explorer obeyed the rules. Unfortunately Microsoft seem to think they know better and, although the latest version is much closer to the standard, web sites still look different in different browsers. And of course as web designers we cannot go round dictating to people what browser they should use, though some web sites presume to do this! This is why Jean and I look at the sites we design in a variety of browsers, including Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and we use various techniques to ensure our sites are visible and make sense in all of them. Designers who only use Internet Explorer can deter surfers using other browsers and in extreme cases the site may be unusable.

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