Defining the right browser support approach
Planning the right browser support can be the difference between alienating and welcoming key audience groups.
It only seems like yesterday that we were designing and testing for IE 6. Browsers have come on a long way since then, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that many people are not at the head of the latest browser adoption curve.
Many clients and agencies define a single set of browser support criteria for all their websites, regardless of the wide range of different user groups, and goals of a site. This might be more acceptable if the sites that you own or are designing are similar in their target audiences but if you have a wide range of clients as we do here at true, or you have a number of differing websites in your portfolio as a brand, then you may want to be a more flexible with your approach and define audience based browser support specifications.
A further common issue is that the perceptions of some people in the digital and IT professions is that more traditional, dated browsers such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11 are approaching their end-of-life support deadlines and are not widely used anymore on a global basis. However, it can be dangerous to make such assumptions, for a number of reasons:
- Some places of work, especially in the public sector may only have older browsers installed on their hardware (for example; Hospitals, Schools, Armed Forces, Government)
- Older hardware that has been handed down to relatives will often not have the latest browsers installed
- Less technically-minded, and frequently older audiences may only use the default browser that comes with a mobile phone/tablet/laptop called ‘Internet’, and often won’t consider or feel confident in changing to a newer or more widely used version. Some even think that Google is effectively their browser.
As a result, we sometimes see that more inclusive, publicly funded companies like the BBC publish on their website that their site and BBC iplayer will work with IE11, whereas sometimes more youthful, tech-led brands can sometimes be quite narrow in their focus, such as Netflix not supporting IE 11.
So understand your audiences and their needs first, look at what the browser and device data is telling you. Tailor your list of supported browsers based on these insights, not a default approach, and you’ll provide a better experience to a wider audience.
If you’d like to discuss our approach to browser support further, or need help with your digital platforms please get in touch.