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Cross Browser Web Design

By: Peter Heinrich Claus at Q Web Design

Submitted on Fri, Jun 8th, 2007 12:00 am

Cross-Browser compatible Web Sites
Creating Cross-Browser Web Design has always been one of the greatest challenges for every Web Designer. Usually, all Web Design starts with an idea, drawn on a sheet of paper to manifest the basic core Layout. Next, there is a skeleton prototype, followed by more or less sophisticated features which than have to be made available to an army of different User-Agents.

Depending in which environment the Web Site is to be viewed; either an Intranet or The Internet; it is the responsibility of the Web Designer to take care of an independent rendering. At the very least, the Design ought to match the major brands, like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera.

The next step is to wage, which versions of these Browsers are supposed to be supported by the Layout. In most cases, it ought to be save enough to reduce any Cross-Browser efforts to fit three to four versions. For example, the current versions of Internet Explorer are 7, Firefox 1.5 and Opera 9. As a Web Designer you will know, which version to set as a minimum for each of the Browsers.

To stay with the above example, you would add a query to detect Internet Explorer 5.5, Firefox 1.2 and Opera 7.5 as the minimum version and either serve a reduced subset of the Layout to any earlier versions or at least print some sort of message to tell the user that his or her Browser is not fully supported and that he or she might experience some difficulties in viewing the Design.

So much for the theory. The praxis is a little more complicated and if not you yourself, than your clients will sure make you think twice about skipping any potential customers. This brings us back to the big challenge of Cross-Browser compatible Web Design.

If you were thinking to create different copies of your Web Design, you had simply missed the point. Cross-Browser Web Design refers to one and the same document which renders almost equal when viewed in different Browsers and versions thereof.

As a rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to preview your prototype in at least three different brands while working on the source. You would be well advised to apply only minor changes before continuing to the next level. It is a lot easier to trace any errors while the Layout is still somewhat thin rather than within a monstrous mind twister.

Rendering Engines
Your Web Design needs to be compatible with a variety of rendering engines. If you want your Layout to support any historical Browsers or other User Agents, like Mobile Devices, Cross-Browser Design can quickly turn into a Web Designer's nightmare.

While there are some HTML core elements which render sort of equal without a special work-around, the majority require so-called tweaks, usually applied in the form of helper classes and a set of CSS Cascading Style Sheets. Even simple things like a
(horizontal ruler) require some extra work to render equal.

Cross-Browser Standards
Sometimes the same style behaviours must be re-declared in multiple locations to tweak identical rendering in different Browsers. Box wrappers usually work nice in two of the major brands, but fail in the third.

For some reason, Browser developers seem unable; or probably more so, unwilling; to implement equal functionality into their products. There is only one syntax for HTML, CSS or DOM. Cross-Browser compatible Web Design remains one of the most daring and difficult tasks for any professional Web Designer.

About the Author

Peter Heinrich Claus
Q Web Design
Regards, Peter Heinrich Claus Freelance Web Designer Q Web Design Quality Web Design

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