A must for any web developer is making sure your website work consistently in all “current” web browsers (we have to define what is “current” based on each website’s demographics: a financial website, like a hedge fund website, probably doesn’t need to worry about older browsers, as most or their users will probably be using modern computers with modern browsers, while a community service organization will probably need cater for browsers ranging from the most current versions back to Netscape 4.7 and IE5.5).
And if you don’t know which browsers a website might need to cater to, you can make an educated guess by viewing a couple different sources of browser statistics (there are many others, this is just a random sample):
Keep in mind that no one has “the perfect” stats on this, because no one tracks ALL computer users, but these stats should give you a pretty good idea of where to start; once your site is live, you can use something like Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) to track which browsers are viewing your site so you know which browsers you should focus on supporting.
To check your website creations in all of these browsers, ideally you would have access to a fully-functioning version of each one. However, while some browsers do allow you to install multiple versions of their browser on a single computer, thus allowing you to keep test your website on each browser version, Internet Explorer (IE) is not one of them; each time you upgrade IE, it overwrites the older version of itself, so you can only ever have a single copy of IE on any one computer.
Larger development firms used to get around this issue by keeping a room full of computers, each with a different version of IE; not all of us have that luxury…
Luckily, some very smart, industrious people have creator a work-around for this: they have created “stand-alone” versions of IE, which, miraculously, allow you to install and use multiple versions of IE on your single computer, and they’ve made these stand-along versions available for free! Hurray!
Links to the free downloads and installation instructions can be found here:
- http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/32bit/standalone – download and install one at a time, or
- http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE – download with an installer (I had trouble with this one, but others clearly have not)