Web Design: Should You Optimize For Particular BrowsersOne question that arises a lot in web design is whether or not to optimize a website for a particular browser. Doing so allows you to provide a controlled, consistent user experience as long as your visitors use the browser(s) you’ve optimized for. Not optimizing for a particular browser means that some of your visitors may have to tolerate little quirks that their browsers can’t or don’t respond to very well.

The move toward mobile devices makes the answer to this question less obvious than it might have been at one time. There was a time when Netscape was – far and away – the most popular web browser. In time, Netscape’s popularity declined and other browsers – Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Mozilla, Chrome – moved in to stake a claim in the Browser Wars.

Today, it’s less likely that you want to optimize your website for a particular browser because doing so means that you may alienate visitors who don’t use the proverbial horse you’ve bet on. Instead, other approaches are taking hold in web design.

Using W3C “standard” HTML is one approach to ensuring that website visitors have the best possible website experience. W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium, and they’ve laid claim to policing the standards for HTML and Web design. By ensuring that HTML and web coding stick to W3C-approved standards, designers can help guarantee a smooth experience across a wide array of standards-compliant browsers.

Responsive web design, which I posted about earlier this week, is another similar approach to providing a good experience for website visitors. Without getting too hung up in which browsers visitors are using, designers can create websites that can accommodate the needs of users, their browsers and their devices – all in the name of providing an excellent, highly functional viewing experience for the user.

The way that users are accessing websites is in transition. In the long run, you’re better off not “picking winners” when it comes to browser optimization for your website. If you invest too heavily in browser optimization, you’re likely to alienate visitors and lose them over time, especially if visiting your website delivers a consistently inconsistent (or worse, irritating) experience whenever they do visit.

You can provide a highly consistent, functional experience without controlling the browser your visitors use. Your website can accommodate multiple browsers (including ones you may never have heard of), if your website design employs standard HTML coding and can respond to the needs of multiple browsers.

If your website is currently optimized for a particular browser, please contact our creative director, Dave Ramsell for a consultation about how your website can make use of WordPress or standard HTML and respond to a broader range of visitors’ needs.

Photo Credit: Microsoft