Testing Your Web Site In Different Browsers

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog post about testing your web site in different browsers. I can’t remember where I read this story but it linked to browsershots.org, which is a free open source online service. This online service enables you to see what your web site will look like on different browsers, everything from Internet Explorer 5 on Windows to Safari on the Mac.

I’ve tweaked the layout of this web site a lot, especially on the CSS side of things. I’ve known this to cause issues in the past. I once had a situation where this web site looked fine on Firefox under Linux, only for it to look different on Windows XP using Firefox or Internet Explorer.

I therefore decided to submit my web site to browsershots.org to see how this web site would perform on a greater selection of browsers. Overall this web site looks fine in other browsers, but I did notice something odd with Internet Explorer 6.0. The right-hand sidebar was displaying directly below the left-hand sidebar, this made the whole web page look a bit strange – yuk!

I therefore decided to dig into Google Analytics to see if anyone was using Internet Explorer 6 to visit my site. The number of visitors using this browser really surprised me. Not only was it a large number, but all these visitors were seeing my web site display incorrectly. Obviously I wanted to fix things as soon as possible.

Here was the breakdown of visitor numbers by browser for the last month. Internet Explorer accounts for almost 40% of traffic visiting this site.


Next I wanted to drilldown and see which versions of Internet Explorer each visitor was using.

I was really surprised how many visitors are still using Internet Explorer 6. It is almost a 50/50 split between Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7.

I’ve now got this web site displaying correctly across all browsers on Linux, Windows XP and on the Mac. This isn’t bad considering this is a 3 column theme which are more difficult to work across multiple browsers than 2 column themes.

The motto of this story. Don’t assume everyone has upgraded to the latest browser and make sure your web site displays correctly across all browser platforms. Otherwise you could lose traffic as a result.

What are the most popular browsers on your site and are you are a fan of 2 or 3 column themes?

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