The Motive Web Design Glossary
A web browser is a computer program that is used to access the web (to view webpages).
A browser can also be used to download files, send and receive email, or short messages across the internet.
Commonly-used web browsers, in order of market-share :
…and soon, Google Chrome?
Each time a web browser is improved (updated), it is assigned a new version number.
The version number can be used by web designers and developers to help find and diagnose problems with the way a webpage is working (bugs).
Bugs are a result of variations in the way a web browser works: either between different types of web browser; or between different versions of the same web browser.
Finding your web browser version number
In Internet Explorer:
- Open/start Internet Explorer.
- Move your cursor up to the
File menu bar (this runs across the top of the screen).
- Click on the
- From the
Help menu, select
About Internet Explorer (this will open a new window).
- The Version (number) is displayed at the top of the
About Internet Explorer window.
A web designer will need both the browser name and the version number. For example:
Internet Explorer, Version 6.0.2900…
Cross-browser compatibility is an issue faced by designers/developers when creating websites.
The goal is that a website can be used by the largest possible audience, with minimal variation in the user-experience…
The goal is that a website can be used by the largest possible audience, with minimal variation in the user-experience: a webpage should ideally look and work the same in all web browsers. The unique challenge of achieving this goal lies in the nature of the medium itself.
A web browser is a computer program (software) and is not subject to physical constraints unlike those present in communications technologies such as television and radio. As browsers are re-programmed to run on different operating systems, and are progressively improved, variations in the software can have an impact on how a webpage looks or works.
In addition as different web browsers are created by different organisations, user-interface enhancements (convenient ways of interacting with content or services), may be added to one web browser and not another. The designer/developer must then devise a strategy that accounts for this possible variation to ensure that a website can still be used without the enhancement; or only use features that are supported by ‘all’ browsers.
chrome, degrade gracefully, doctype, download/upload, email, FTP, HTTP, internet, plug-in, quirks mode, sniffer, web, web standards.
References and further reading
-  Browser market share, accessed Sept 2008 (Market Share)
- End of support for Netscape web browsers (Tom Drapeau, Netscape Blog)
Dec 2007: Netscape’s owner AOL announces that it will end development of the Netscape branded web browser, encouraging current users to switch to Firefox.
- From [
doctype] switches to [web browser] targets (Eric Meyer, A List Apart)
21 Jan 2008: How to manage the issue of forward and backward compatibility, to ensure that new web browsers can still be used to view old webpages.
- [Introduction to] Google Chrome (Google)
Sept 2008: A comic-book introduction to the thinking of the development team and an overview of key features of the Google Chrome browser.
- Google Chrome information for web designers/developers (Google)
- Graded browser support (Yahoo!)
Not all browsers are created equal. With over 10,000 browser brands, versions, and configurations, ensuring that a webpage looks and works the same in all browsers is problematic. Formalising a tiered-framework for describing browser compliance.
- How to build a better web browser (Scott Berkun, UIWeb.com)
Insights from the former program manager of the Internet Explorer project into the design of content navigation and searching systems.
- Improve usability for older users (Tim Fidgeon, Sitepoint)
There are a number of aspects of browser-use that are likely to be unfamiliar to older (or inexperienced) computer users. An awareness of notions such as assigning blame, emotional reaction and mental models make for a more sensitive/aware approach to web design.
- Reporting bugs: A how-to guide (Rachel Andrew, EdgeOfMySeat.com)
The web is very much a ‘work-in-progress’, when things don’t work the way you expect you might just have unearthed a ‘bug’.
- Standards and Testing: Testing [Web Browser Compliance] v.3.0 (New Zealand E-Government)
Minimum (about 96% of users), Extensive (about 98% of users), and Comprehensive (almost all users) standards for web browser compliance/testing for New Zealand public sector websites.
- My web, my way (BBC)
A guide to customising your web browser (changing text size, filling out forms, etc.).
Motive Web Design Glossary Trivia