• How to Check Your Website for Browser Compatibility

    Well, I learned the hard way that this website ONLY displayed properly in the latest version of Firefox.

    Crap, that sucked!

    Its not something I check regularly, which I should.  So should you.

    How did it break?  It was due to an issue with the .htaccess file prohibiting the proper display.  Fortunately, it was an easy fix.  Just reverted back to a default version.  I’ll adjust it slowly and check compatibility after each change.Check your website for best compatibility

    Arguably the best method is to use actual browsers that you’ve installed on your computer, such as Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Chrome, and of course Firefox.  I like to use several, as they each serve a different purpose, not just for checking compatibility.  Sometimes its good to have all the bells and whistles, other times it is good to have raw speed.  But they should all display websites properly, not to mention the interactive features should work as desired.

    The other handy method for checking browsers is to use a “cross-browser testing” website.  There are a few good ones.  The old stand-by is Browser Shots, which goes back to 2005.  They’ve since added a lot of new browsers, as well as each subsequent version to come out.  Its still free, although they would like everyone to register for an account.

    A simple testing site is Browserling, which began in 2010.  They point out that they use real browsers on real computers.  There is no emulation or “fake browsers”.  Its free and easy to use, but is limited to 3 minute sessions.  There are pricing plans with additional features, if you so desire.

    BrowserStack, which came out in 2011, offers premium service.  It has less browser choices, but does include all the major ones.  The best thing is that they have many choices of mobile devices to check against.  This is especially important as we move more and more toward mobile usage.  This site is free, for a trial period.  Then it goes up to $29, minimum, per month. Ugh. BrowserStack is popular with big businesses and major websites.

    The last that I’ll mention is another premium service to offer “cross-browser testing” is called, well, CrossBrowserTesting.  They have a free trial, but the paid service starts at $29.95 per month.  Like the one above, they have mobile device testing, plus a bunch of other bells and whistles.

    Check These Possible Causes of Browser or Device Incompatibility With Your Website

    As I mentioned, .htaccess can restrict browsers from displaying properly, if not at all.  Revert to a default version, or back out any recent changes.

    Platform plugins or addons can cause issues as well.  Disable plugins that you suspect might be the cause of display or functionality issues.  You can also go in the other direction and disable all of them, and then re-enable them one at a time, checking compatibility after each one.

    A frequent cause could be the theme of your website.  Try another theme or template to see if your current one is the cause.

    The WorldWideWeb Consortium (W3C) sets the standards by which everyone is supposed to obey when creating a website or browser.  Internet Explorer was notorious in the past for using proprietary code.  Non-complaint HTML, Javascript, or CSS can be another frequent cause of issues.  You can check for issues by using the W3C HTML Validator  Service.  Just enter your URL and press Check.  The same goes for the CSS.  Go to CSS Validator to look for errors in the code.  Be sure to keep up with all the latest changes to the standards that W3C sets.  And, keep your browsers and websites updated.

    Lastly, make sure your website is optimized for speed and mobile device friendliness.


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