Dealing With Browser Compatibility Issues In Web Design

An interesting aspect of the internet that makes it very popular as an information resource is the fact that it provides so many options to the user, and at times the variety can pose a bewildering problem.

The same applies to making a choice of which search engine to access the web.

From Internet Explorer to Google, from Safari to Mozilla, at times it can be justifiably said that there are too many alternatives available.

The dilemma facing the user is that too many can mean compatibility issues.

dealing with web browser compatibility in web design

dealing with web browser compatibility in web design

Browser programs read online content the same way, through their standard HTML codes.

But this doesn’t mean that they read all standard HTML using the same software, and therein lays the problem.

With the varying form controls and style sheets these browsers employ separately, web design can literally be a nightmare for people wanting to deal with browser compatibility issues.

A website that looks perfect using one browser does not mean it will look the same using the others.

Fortunately, there are fixes to these issues provided the correct tools, standards, and conditional statements are utilized.


To make the process easier, it is necessary to design the website to be compliant with at least one of the more current search engines.

That is why software testing tools have become so widespread in this day and age.

A good choice is Mozilla Firefox, because it features a wide array of web tools for troubleshooting and code debug functions.

One such tool is the Web Developer’s Toolbar.

It provides the user with the ability to modify CSS on-page, which makes testing on-the-fly easy.

It also allows highlighting specific elements and cache disabling for more testing options, as well as a great many other unrelated functions.

Firebug is another tool for web design that can be used for CSS editing on-page.

It features a function that lets users check on-page elements and their respective CSS to pinpoint bugs in the coding.

As a further fix alternative, it even allows standard HTML editing if all else fails.

These two tools are the best choices for tools to help the web designer deal with compatibility issues.

Web Standards

Web standards stand for compliant codes used in writing HTML.

Typically this means using the right element tags, CSS, and markups.

In addition to making the website more easily rendered by different browsers, following web standard-compliant HTML also makes for a more search optimized website.

Later modifications and fixes to the site are easier to implement as well.

This makes dealing with browser compatibility issues relatively simpler.

After making sure the website markup components are built to spec, the next task would be to design the layout.

The basic procedure to prevent compatibility issues from cropping up is to do a style reformat on all elements.

The logic behind this is that every search engine uses its own default style for element formatting.

Usually a web designer will either assign 10px on the padding or the margin of a p tag, but doing this aggravates rendering problems.

The best alternative is to simply design a fresh one with all element padding and margin disabled, or employ reset style sheets available online.

Doing the steps stated above will greatly reduce the amount of probable issues that may be encountered later.

Provided the website is not too complex, it will render itself similarly in most current browsers like Firefox, as well as older browsers.

Conditional Statements

Originally, the use of conditional statements was intended to remedy the compatibility issues among the different versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

These statements enable web standards compliant CSS and HTML.

To fix issues with other browser applications, one simply adds the default style sheets of those browsers using conditional statements.

A standard statement consists of the following equation,

< !- [if IE 6] > (style sheet link) < ! [endif] – >

There are other operators usable for setting conditional statements, but the point is to define each default style sheet separately per browser.

This will help in fixing future rendering issues.

Final Thoughts

In retrospect, the ideal way to deal with search engine compatibility problems is to use web standard compliant HTML coding completely.

There are available tools to help with this task, and these can be also useful when troubleshooting in the future.

Together with using conditional statements, any rendering problem that crops up can be dealt with easy as pie.

To ensure compatibility, always test the website fixes made by accessing the site with several browser applications.

Ideally the website should, at the least, be compatible with earlier browsers like Internet Explorer 6 and with the more modern ones such as Google’s Chrome.

Mac users should definitely ensure their website is readable using Safari.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. […] Cross-browser issues can also happen. […]

  2. […] A common practice is to concentrate first on learning how to create visual content for websites, then moving on to learn concepts for enabling cross-browser compatibility. […]

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