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Jennifer Kyrnin

Poll: Do you tell your readers what browser to use?

By November 15, 2012

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It used to be really common to see notes on websites saying "best viewed in..." or little rotating graphics or something else along the lines of "view this site in my favorite browser, or I can't promise what it will look like." But these days I rarely see that message (or one like it) at all. That's why I was so surprised to see the message on the HTML5 Rough Guides site (my inspiration post this week) stating that you should use Internet Explorer to view it. I ended up ignoring the message and viewing it anyway, and while it didn't work well on my iPad, it seemed to have little trouble with Chrome on my Mac.

It is frustrating being a web designer and having to have such a wide variety of browsers to support, but with the introduction of HTML5 and Internet Explorer 9 and now 10, that support is coming back to a central location. Why would a site want to deliberately limit its viewers by requiring (or suggesting) that they use a different browser than the one they prefer? Especially when they insist on a browser like IE that only works on Windows, so you are deliberately snubbing several popular operating systems (Macintosh, iOS, and Android). I recommend you never tell your readers what browser to use.

Do you tell your readers what browser they should use? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

November 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm
(1) BenL says:

As a web developer for about 18 years, I’ve never put anything on a web page to suggest a preference of what browser to use. But, I can tell a funny story about it.

In about 1998, I was working for the Federal Government and we were tasked to post Judge Jackson’s ruling in the U.S. v. Microsoft case and we had some coordinators who were to synchronize the release of both the print and online versions of the ruling.

We rekeyed the cover letter to make it more readable and scanned the signature. When we tried to line the signature up to look like the original, we couldn’t get it right in Netscape. The coordinators kept coming into the room and asking us was everything ready, I told him the problem with the signature, then I jokingly said “we added ‘best view in Internet Explorer at the bottom’”. Well they didn’t think that was funny, I had to tell them I was joking. I still laugh at that to this day. Bill Gates would have loved it if we had done it.

November 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm
(2) Petah says:

Because if I don’t tell them, they use s**t browsers.

November 16, 2012 at 12:09 am
(3) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

@Petah: does your telling people what browser to use reduce the number of “s**t browsers” visiting your site?

November 16, 2012 at 3:30 am
(4) Petah says:

Yes, since we put a big orange warning, and stopped fulling supporting IE6/7, over a year those browsers dropped from 25% to < 2%

It might not have been the only factor, but I bet it had a significant influence.

It's getting to a point that we are even refusing to support major clients who are stuck on IE6/7.

November 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm
(5) jokit says:

@BenL: Nice story! Occasionally incidents like this make up for doing a good job for little appreciation.

November 20, 2012 at 7:33 am
(6) Mary says:

From a user’s point of view, I usually drop web sites which won’t work in non-IE browsers. If you warned me, I might realize it’s the restrictive coding in IE which breaks the site rather than the poorly written page.

November 20, 2012 at 9:21 am
(7) ravingw says:

Please don’t assume that all users have a choice of browsers. Company and government systems dictate the platforms and browsers used. Libraries and other shared communities don’t allow users to just install whatever browser is called for. Designers should take responsibility for SAYING “best viewed with IE6″ when most users of that site are on borrowed computers.

November 20, 2012 at 9:28 am
(8) cloudwow says:

Suggesting a “favorite” or “best viewed with…” browser screams you are an amateur developer. If you can’t make the site work in all major browsers, you can’t do your job as a web developer – HTML5 sites included.

With the advent of jQuery – which is really what most people mean when they brag about their site being “HTML5″ – there is no excuse anymore to need this or that browser to get the job done. Unless you did not take the time to work out the details for each version of each browser. Again, with jQuery, this is far easier and should be the standard to which a professional company should aspire.

November 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm
(9) Karri says:

Ηi would you minԁ ѕharing whiсh blog platform yоu’re using? I’m loοking to start my own blog іn the near future but І’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something соmpletely unique.
P.S My аpоlogiеs for being οff-topіc but I had to аѕk!

November 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm
(10) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

I usually use WordPress.

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