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The Motive Web Design Glossary

web browser

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 [1]:

…and soon, Google Chrome?

browser versions

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:

  1. Open/start Internet Explorer.
  2. Move your cursor up to the File menu bar (this runs across the top of the screen).
  3. Click on the Help item.
  4. From the Help menu, select About Internet Explorer (this will open a new window).
  5. 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

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.

Related terms: chrome, degrade gracefully, doctype, download/upload, email, FTP, HTTP, internet, plug-in, quirks mode, sniffer, web, web standards.

 

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