In the early days of the Internet, there were really just two competing browsers - Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Now there are many browsers available and in use - for example, Opera is becoming a popular alternative.

As the Internet develops, so do the browsers, with revised versions being released on a regular basis. With each new version comes additional functionality, changes to existing functionality, fixes for previous version bugs, and, of course, new bugs.

The computers that we use to connect to the Internet have also come a long way. Whilst many of your site visitors will be using IBM (or compatible) PCs running Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, there are many other computers and connection devices in use. The Apple Mac, for example, is popular with graphic designers and publishing companies.

The communication methods that we use to connect to the Internet have also expanded over the years. You may, for example, be using a telephone modem, an ISDN line, a cable or ADSL link, a mobile telephone. All these different methods have different connection speeds. This affects how quickly your site is displayed to your visitors, and may therefore affect what you decide to show on your site (high resolution photos, for example, can take a long time to load).

The settings on the computer can also be adjusted, for example the screen resolution. The settings within the browser can also be adjusted, for example whether JavaScript is enabled, whether Cookies are enabled, what the default link colour should be.

A Web site can be therefore be displayed differently to the visitors, depending on :-

  • browser type
  • browser version (same type, eg Internet Explorer, but different versions eg version 4, 5, 6 etc)
  • connection device
  • connection speed
  • computer and browser settings

When a Web site is built, these factors need to be taken into account. It is therefore prudent to test the site under as many different conditions as possible. When we build a site, we can test it against all major versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Opera, plus a few minor browsers. We can also test the site on all Windows operating systems.

When testing a Web site in different environments, undesirable results are often highlighted. In some circumstances, the site may be displayed in a manner which is acceptable, but not ideal. In other circumstances, parts of the site may be unusable. Techniques are available which allow certain information about a site visitor to be gathered. This means that different versions of site pages can be produced for display in different circumstances. For example, we can see that you are running , on . For a comprehensive list of the capabilities of your browser, check your browser properties.

If you have a site that you have built yourself, and you do not have the facilities to conduct a comprehensive test, please ask for a quotation, specifying the level of testing that you would like.

You can find more detailed information about Browsers at BrowserWatch. You can find a table of browser usage statistics at Upsdell, and another version here.



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Page updated 03/08/2014 21:42:08
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