When I started this blog, I was naive. I thought I knew. I believed in technology. I thought the way I saw my blog was how everyone saw it.
A bit like when I was a kid. Then I thought when I would keep my hands over my eyes, nobody else in the world could see, because I could not see.
Same with my blog. I thought what I published, all of you would see the posts I would see it.
Now I know better. Now I know one thing: "I know nothing". And maybe that I will never know. And the fact that for the user, IT technology sucks.
What am I talking about? Internet browser compatibility!
Two years ago, I only used Internet Explorer. Until a friend told me that some of my posts looked weird on his computer. Text formatting around pictures was screwed up. Some widgets did not show correctly. Some stuff clearly ran outside of the main column. He showed it to me and "Yak!", he was not kidding.
He used Firefox. I had never heard of Firefox before (I told you I knew nothing!). I looked at my web statistics and found out quite a lot of visitors used Firefox. So a lot of people saw my blog differently than how I saw it.
So I downloaded Firefox, and from then on, I checked my blog both on Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Until another friend told me some of the stuff on my blog looked weird. I checked, and it did look weird. He used Safari on a Mac. I downloaded Safari.
Just in the last couple of months, I changed the layout of this blog significantly. Added drop-down menus, collapse/expand features, changed fonts, colours, template layouts,... And I tell you, it would take me typically a couple of hours to make the change, but two days to ensure it looks right on different browsers.
I can now understand the agony professional web developers have to go through during the final browser-compatibility testing. At work, we are developing a big portal website. And the developers are running past their delivery deadline. Why? Browser compatibility problems. Drives them nuts. And me too.
So nowadays, I check everything I publish on my blog in Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. Why? Because The Road's web statistics from the past few months show me this is what you use:
The worst is Internet Explorer. The worst of worst is Internet Explorer 6. I don't even check it anymore. It is hopeless. The only hope I have is that my visitors as sensible enough to either upgrade to Explorer 7, or to use a decent browser.
Besides formatting problems, Internet Explorer is slow (as I showed in the past) and often seems to get stuck while waiting for a page to load. Bleh!
So my tip for the serious blogger: Download the most popular browsers and test your site. The more features you add, and the more advanced those features are, the more thorough you have to test in different browsers.
Oh, and tip of the week: Try BrowserShots, a website that generates a screenshots of how your site looks like on dozens of different browsers, and on the different operating platforms (Windows, Linus, Mac).
Have fun, and I hope you don't get too many nasty surprises.
PS: If any of you experience problems viewing The Road, just comment on any post! As I said: "I know nothing!", so comments more than welcome! You can also help me with feedback on two different collapse/expand features, see also this post on The Road's discussion forum
More blogging tips and tricks on The Road.
Cartoon courtesy MediaWatch India