Design Issues

Web Design issues that are often ignored or overlooked

One of the biggest pains about making Web pages is having to keep track of which browsers support what features. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to keep track of it all? Well we can write java scripts for your site to sniff out which browser a user is running.

This allows you a site that can cater to your user, regardless of what browser or computer platform they are using. These scripts can serve pages of identical content but are formatted specifically to the browser that the visitor to site is using. The chart below is an example of the demographics of current browser use. Thefollowing chart shows the functionality and the specific features that each version of the major browsers support.

By using style sheets to control the size and positioning of text and form elements we can create content that will appear almost identical regardless of the browser or computer platform being used. Click here to see an example of how differently things like text can be displayed by different browsers.

Top 10 Browser Types Compiled from Our Aggregated Data Over the Past 3 Months (Last Updated June 1, 2008)

Browser Hits Percent

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.x 43.61%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x 33.20%
Firefox x.x 16.10%
Safari x.x 5.90%
Mozilla 0.35%
Opera x.x 0.30%
Netscape x.x 0.17%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x 0.13%

A word about Web browser standards

A number of elements and practices considered “standard” among web developers for adding HTML and/or cross-browser support to their web pages were recently excluded from the W3C HTML 4.0 and Document Object Model specifications. Tags like


These are just some of the tags that no longer work in many of the new web browsers. In addition certain objects like document.layers[] and document.styleSheets[], for example, are actually not a part of any web standard. Using standards in your web development makes your pages genuinely cross-browser and cross-platform, makes them a part of a coherent and robust document object model, makes them readable and extensible by others, and also furthers the cause of the standardization process itself.

Developing Cross Browser/Cross Platform Pages and Serving them by Sniffing

An important practice for doing cross-platform development is to able to determine at runtime the capabilities of the browser that are viewing your page. You need to avoid errors, and may want to ensure your script reaches as wide an audience as possible.

This process, often referred to as “browser sniffing,” is usually handled by JavaScript functions that test the version and type of the browser and, if necessary, use different functions or point the user to different pages or web content as shown by the schematic below:

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