When developing a website, a CMS, or a WordPress theme, the visible part is the front-end (d’oh).
The front-end developer has the “wonderful” task of creating a cross-browser compatible website. But this may be a bit confusing.
How should a cross-browser compatible website work?
In our view, a website does NOT have to look identical in Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Of course, everybody would like pixel-perfect websites, but sometimes that is not possible. And it’s not just about Internet Explorer anymore.
Actually, it is not about any browser anymore! If you really think about it, one website should be cross-browser compatible, cross-OS compatible and cross-device compatible (responsive that is).
One would just press the stop button and call it a day, ’cause at a closer look, there are too many variables:
– we have 5 major browsers (with different versions still in use – IE6-7-8-9-10 for instance)
– we have 3 major operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac) and yes, there is a difference between a website seen in Firefox on Windows and one on Linux or Mac
– we have screen sizes and resolutions that vary from small 640 x 320 up towards big screens with 2560 x 1600
While talking about responsiveness, developing only with device resolution in mind is not truly responsive is it?
It is not #responsive if I just *view* a website ok, but I actually download the entire “desktop” version.
— Vladi Iancu (@vladiiancu) May 22, 2013
Sure, making your site easy to navigate and display only the important information on a phone is great, but we should keep in mind that the user might not be using wi-fi. In this case, a truly responsive site doesn’t download an 800×600 image and scales it down to 200×100 – it serves a smaller, less consuming image directly, for instance.
So what should a client expect after seeing that beautiful layout from Photoshop or that nice prototype you made in-browser?
He should expect the look and feel to be the same, and the entire functionality to be right there flawlessly. And this is where you draw the line.
Gradients, snazzy effects and cool animations cannot be everywhere. That’s the reality one should face. And a good developer should take a quick look at the data and see which browsers, operating systems and screen resolutions/devices are most popular and should focus on those as much as possible.