Cross Browser Compatibility problems

A common website troubleshooting step is to check your website cross browser compatability. Each browser parses the website code differently from each other. In other words, Internet Explorer will render a website Differently than FireFox or Safari. This leads to the common question “Why does my website not look good in Internet Explorer but fine in FireFox?“.

Fixing a browser compatibility problem can be difficult if you do not know what to look for. If you are developing your site code manually, you can check the website code through a validator. If you are using a theme for, say WordPress, you will want to contact the developer of the theme because the code is scripted in PHP and can be difficult to diagnose. The developer will want to fix the theme to provide a compatible theme for others using the theme.

What is a browser compatibility issue?

You know you have a cross browser compatibility problem when you receive complaints from your visitors that some of your website functions are not working. An example of this is when someone visits your site in say Internet Explorer and the layout of the site displays your content differently than when you are in a different browser. The cause of this is typically due to “unsupported” tags that are “deprecated” and are not recommended for use or you have Bad HTML, CSS or JavaScript code that was incorrectly written.

Important! Cross browser compatibility problems are not a server side related problem. This is specific to how the website was coded.

How should I fix compatibility issue?

The first step in fixing a browser compatibility problem is to check the code to see if it passes “validation”. Code validation will show you where your website has incorrectly coded HTML tags, missing tags, non W3c compliant tags, and more. You can validate your website for free at the W3c site. See the following links on this.

HTML Validator

CSS Validator

Once you validate your HTML and have no errors on your site, You should see the browser look more uniform. You will want to continue looking through your website code and fixing code problems until all browsers look the same. This process will require you to be able to check your website in each browser.

How can I test for browser compatibility?

There are different ways you can test your site for cross browser compatibility. You can install all the known browsers on your computer and then view your site in each browser as you develop it. The downfall to this is you will not be able to see what the older versions of a browser looks like.

You can get programs that check your website for you. To check different Internet Explorer browser versions you can use “IE Tester“. Or you can try a universal browser compatibility checker like what’s at BrowserShots. Below are links to different software that checks your website browser compatibility


IE Tester

Adobe Browser Lab

Quirks Mode

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