Supporting more than one browser for your website, or does Firefox really make my life harder?

Some dude named Fred comments via Scoble’s link blog that having more than one browser popular in the market place makes things hard for web site developers. The premise? That previously people could get away with supporting only Internet Explorer, and having people use Safari and Firefox means that now they have to do three times as much effort to develop a site which works well in each.

There are a couple of flaws in this argument that I feel I should comment on:

  • There have been lots of browsers for a long time — site readers for the vision impaired, mobile devices like Palms, PocketPCs and now Smart Phones, browsers on less common operating systems including MacOS, Linux, *BSD, various forms of kiosk machines.
  • Lots of people have sites which work in all browsers now — they avoid gee whizz interface design, and design for function over form. Incidentally that means that vision impaired people, search engines, and humans have an easier time of using the site. I hate those car sites for instance which are one big flash animation. And those sites which use pop up windows. And those sites where I can’t deep link. Argh!
  • Fred is describing fixing the symptoms not the problem — if we need more gee whizz in our lives, then perhaps it’s time for better standards and standards compliance. Thing of another example. How angry would you be is a new USB device didn’t work with your tablet PC because it was only designed for PC 5.3.1? I’d be ropable.

[tags: computing internet standards scoble]