Bri Manning

Why Browsers Shouldn’t Matter to Usability and Design

April 4, 2011

A recent post by Tim Peter about designing for a certain browser got me thinking about design and usability and the current state of the browser wars.

Tim argues that instead of looking at what the general market trends in browser usage is, you should look at what the usage of your users are. I completely agree with that sentiment.

Given the current state of modern browsers, however, there is very little reason that your website design and development can’t support the majority of browsers. There might be slight display issues in some cases, but the big hitters: IE7/IE8/IE9, Chrome, Firefox and Safari, are all relatively easy to support. Of course, there are occasional bugs here and there (I’m looking at you IE7) that require special attention (and often additional hair-pulling), there is little reason beyond working with some intense JavaScript or cutting-edge CSS3/HTML5 features that your website will not work in the above browsers.

Once that’s accomplished, it becomes a business decision how far you want to go to support less common situations or exotic browsers or antiquated browsers (hey, IE6). Just like how how much A/B testing you do becomes a business decision, how much cross-browser¬†compatibility your company is going to pursue is also a business decision.