Will Your Web Site Survive the Browser Wars of 2010? - WebSights
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Will Your Web Site Survive the Browser Wars of 2010?

By Rich Rosell

Article Date: 04-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Consider the likelihood that customers are viewing your site in a browser other than Explorer, and how they may judge your company by what they see.

Somewhere out there a war is raging, one that has been going on for years. This particular war is unique in that it doesn’t have any immediate life-threatening dangers, but it does have its own very special set of business risks that you should be aware of.
Believe it or not, it’s browser wars.
When I talk about “browser wars” I am talking about Web browsers; you know, the freebie software applications that you use to “browse” Web sites. Hence the name browser.
Here’s where it’s worth your while to pay attention. The reality is that the winners (and even some of the losers) of this war may all play an indirect but key role in how your company Web site looks and operates in the eyes of potential customers.
The browser wars have been going on for years, ever since Netscape Navigator (if you remember that you’re a certified Internet veteran) led the way with the release of what’s considered the first commercial browser way back in 1994. Microsoft soon joined the fray with an early incarnation of Internet Explorer, as did a number of others who have since risen and fallen along the way.
But browser wars? Really? Okay, maybe the word “war” is a bit of an overly dramatic statement, but there certainly is a technological battle of popularity and preference that is being waged by Internet users all over the world. Believe it or not, it could have an impact on your business.
How? I’ll get to that in a moment.
Odds are that you use the ever popular Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Or quite possibly you favor Mozilla’s Firefox. Maybe it’s the upstart Google Chrome. Let’s not forget Opera, Safari, Maxthon or any others too obscure to mention here.
Different people use different browsers for a million different reasons. Some like the features this one has, or some prefer the speed with which this one loads pages. Others may use whatever is already installed on their computer without giving a second thought as to why.
The reasons why they use the browser they use aren’t important at all, but what is essential is the realization that each browser has a tendency to occasionally display certain Web pages differently. There are all sorts of geeky technical explanations and reasons for these conflicts, but you’re not here for a tech lesson. All that matters is that if something doesn’t display correctly then a potential customer will think your site looks weird and buggy before heading elsewhere. A page that looks perfect in Internet Explorer may look like a jumbled mess in Firefox. Or vice versa.
The key word to remember is “occasionally.” That’s the good news; it doesn’t happen all the time. The even better news is that these issues can be fixed by your webmaster. The bad news, however, is that these display anomalies do happen and you need to be on the hunt for them. What if a Web visitor is looking at your company site via a certain browser, and for whatever reason certain blocks of text or images aren’t displaying properly? There goes your company’s credibility out the window; there goes a potential customer, and there goes a sale.
Today, the two biggies on the browser scene are Internet Explorer and Firefox, with a handful of equally viable competitors nibbling away at their market penetration. Don’t assume everyone uses Internet Explorer just because you do, because it’s just not true.
It is good practice to take the time to look at your site in (at the very least) both of the big two browsers, just to make sure your site looks and operates like it is supposed to. You never want to “assume it probably will look okay,” because sometimes you just never know. It is better to find any discrepancies or problems now and get them corrected than it is to let your site send off a negative connotation as being “broken,” because this is not the sort of economy where anyone can afford to be losing customers over easily fixable problems.
I’ll let you in on a secret, too. Your webhost should be providing you with detailed usage/visitor statistics, and within those reports should be a breakdown of what browsers your online visitors are using. This is a good jumping off point to give you an idea of what browsers are popular with visitors to your site, and which browsers should be used to begin the “tests” of your site.
Browser battles may not seem all that important to you, but pay attention to the players involved. It’s just smart business.
For over 10 years, AED Web Services has not only been the leader in construction equipment distribution Web site design, we have consistently delivered affordable and professional sites to distributors, manufacturers and service suppliers. We would like to help you by offering a complimentary Web site analysis and evaluation. For more information call Rich Rosell at 800-388-0650 or visit the AED Web Services Web site.
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