Why The Browser Is The Nightmare Of Every Web Designer
Why The Browser Is The Nightmare Of Every Web Designer
Web browsers can sometimes be a handicap for web designers. Web designers would breathe more easily if browsers would display their beautiful creations without any hitch or bug. Sadly, this isn’t so. Therefore, it’s imperative that we re-think the manner in which we work with browsers.
Print vs. Web
Web design is still in its infancy in comparison to print design. Many centuries of print media have produced the best practices and creations. Though printed designs do not have much variation because of their fixed nature, they can differ in a big way in other fields like color and contrast because of the quality of paper and press. These changes can drastically alter the communication sent by the design once it appears on paper.
On the other hand fine web designs get destroyed by browsers which have gained notoriety due to this! It’s akin to obsolete printing machines or terrible paper products ruining printed designs. However, unlike the printed word/picture, the web does not have to rely on centuries-old and proven ways to handle inconsistencies.
Another rare dilemma web developers must tackle is that they cannot control the quality, while print designers can. They cannot choose which browser people will see their site. In short, they are in the hands of the user and the particular browser that he/she is using.
Distinctive Browsers For Different People
Being companies, browsers too have competition. If there existed a gigantic web standards association which directed all browsers to function in one way the need for numerous browsers would not arise. We would have only one tremendous browser. But since the browsers fight to get users, in the same manner that websites do, they create varied features to attract users.
In print world, copier companies battle it out against one another by adding various features and making use of varied color combinations. Besides this, they create precise features to set themselves apart and sell to target audiences. Canon, for instance, produces color printers that are most used in the printing business because they are more standardized, have a top quality color combination and equipment. Ricoh printers are tilted towards business products which don’t need very robust and intricate color combinations. This makes them good for in-house company publications such as reports.
A designer who makes print creations for a big commercial campaign will most likely use a commercial class printer and not a business/personal category one.
The same it is with browsers. Some are constructed to manage profound design requirements and others are built more to render documents. Put in another way; gecko and webkit web browsers are constructed for publishing top grade design-intensive sites, while the older IE, as well as Opera, are meant to handle readable documents, in part cause they’re old. Ponder the difference between a PC and an Apple computer; Apple is meant for creative development while PCs are constructed for quicker, more potent computing power. In general, IE always will be constructed for an audience that’s more technical or for a business audience; Firefox and Chrome will normally gratify an audience that’s more creative.
In the coming decade browsers will do more to make themselves different from others Which means we will need to find out better ways to tackle compatibility of browsers The days of attempting to make the whole lot look similar in all browsers are gone. Finally it will be almost impossible to do unless there are some serious workarounds, or simply a plain and dull design. With the new browsers we will be forced to re-think the manner in which we look at the compatibility factor and the methods to tackle browser differences.
Present Quality Levels
It’s fine if a website looks different in various browsers. It must be like that. I’m not referring to entirely different designs. I mean that we must not design for the masses, unless they are your audience. We must always design to attain the highest quality experience. If print designers can achieve that, we also can. This kind of design thinking results in two things:
1. It encourages progress by egging on users to get their equipment as well as software up-to-date.
2. It gives the best possible user experience.
Designers in the print media can always aim for the highest quality since they can control directly the viewing of their product. This deficiency in of control, however, does not mean that web designers cannot adopt a similar attitude.
When a print designer takes a campaign to a rating company, that company will give the designer a quality rating that is based on price as well as quantity. If you cough up less for prints, the quality you get will be less. It’s that simple!
When you deal with clients/ users, don’t spin yarns about attempting to get their website to be similar everywhere. Instead, give them quality options. Display what the best quality website looks like in a top quality browser. After that show them how it looks in the poorest quality browser. Now offer them a choice. The client’s site can appear so-so in all browsers and really awesome in others; in a few browsers it may look average.
Don’t design and code in every browser to show clients the differences. That would be too much work to explain a simple thing. If you are really aware about browser capabilities, some Photoshop mock-ups which show the difference will be simply fine. Maybe you could write a nonspecific template that demonstrates the differences and make use of that to explain to several clients how the elements will show up in varied browsers.
Visitors, Branding and Meaning
Gradients, background images, custom fonts and animations augment your designs. However, they don’t make them. The additional design burst can be utilized to produce an improved experience but they must never shatter the meaning or experience of your site. In MobileFirst Luke W speaks about how we must design for a mobile browser first and then for the bigger display. He holds that this enables us to appraise what is really important to the website as well as the design. This method of minimal design helps us to design an improved mobile experience and also an improved experience across browsers.
Here are some things to think about when you design for a number of browsers:
• Know your visitors. They may not need the latest or newest or even the greatest browser facilities.
• Preserve your brand by making use of logos and colors besides consistent styles. Your website may drop or add functions as well as elements, but keeping your brand consistent will help sustain the experience.
• Ensure that the browser does not shatter your site’s meaning. Always separate design and style from content as well as meaning.
If you own a Ferrari you’ll guess what I’m saying! Ferraris are constructed so that they can zoom on the world’s best roads; not over back roads infested with pot holes. It will destroy your lovely racing car and insult the designers and engineers and who spent days and months creating such a great vehicle! Design your website so that it performs only on the finest roads!
I hope you appreciate these lines about web design vis-à-vis browsers. Looking forward to your feedback by way of comments!
Alan Smith is an avid tech blogger with vast experience in various IT domains, currently associated with SPINX Inc., a Los Angeles based company of expert Web Designers. Follow Alan on Google + and Twitter.
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Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.