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Website Browsers Divide Internet

Posted: 15th Dec, 2004 By: MarkJ
Web testing firm SciVisum has warned of the growing divide between websites that support all modern browsers (categorised as 'civil') and those that specifically cater for a single product ('uncivil'):

So-called uncivil web sites provide restricted access to browsers such as Firefox, Netscape Navigator, Opera, Safari and any version of Internet Explorer below 6.0 at best, and completely block access at worst.

Internet Explorer contains a number of non-standard web features, which are not part of the international WC3 HTML 4.0 specification for web site design, most of which purely visual features, as opposed to vital extensions. Web sites designed to work with these elements inevitably will not work in other browser formats.

"Guilty web sites that enforce a door policy, range from small business through to FTSE 100 firms and government organisations. It has arisen because web designers are building increasing complex sites optimised to work a specific browser, typically Internet Explorer. Inevitably the viewing experience is reduced with other browser types and so sites are increasingly being locked down to work with limited browser types," said Deri Jones, CEO, SciVisum.

The issue is compounded because internet users are increasing moving away from Internet Explorer because of security issues, and are switching to an alternative browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Netscape Navigator. Furthermore, sites with browser checking tools are being confused by new versions of browsers such as Firefox and in error advise visitors to upgrade their browser.

SciVisum advises web designers to develop sites for the lowest common denominator browser and design sites to meet the needs of all web visitors, that works with or without applications such as JavaScript and Flash.

"This is commonsense. A basis tenet of accessible web site design is that sites should be usable by the widest range of users. This means sites should adhere to the international W3C HTML 4.0 standard and should be accessible by all users, with any standards based browser," said Jones.
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