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Which browser should you use?

sjhoward.co.uk in IE and FirefoxThis is an interesting question, and one that techies like to debate for hours on end. For the record, I use Firefox with IETab, so that sites that have to use Internet Explorer still can, without needing to bother me. But Firefox isn’t the only browser, and it may not be the best browser for you.

As a webmaster, I’m often pushed in the direction of recommending a browser, whether it’s by pestering you to death through plugins like these, or by incentivising me to point you in the direction of one browser. But, frankly, who am I to say which browser is best for your needs? I don’t even know you!

I think how you want to use the net is up to you. So the philosophy around these parts is to make the site as near to identical as possible whichever browser you might want to use, and also to allow some different methods of access to the site. I’ve just finished the latest little bit of tweaking which now brings the Firefox and IE interpretations of the site design a little closer (the differences now are barely perceptable), and also allows the site to be zoomed more gracefully, so that the fixed-width gives if you want to read at a greater font size.

Of course, the old facilities of listening to the site through the audio links or podcast feed, or even accessing the site via a mobile phone are still available (see the Site Guide for details). And if you like to print a hard copy, go ahead. It will always be formatted for printing automatically. It doesn’t make sense to me for people to worry about whether they’re viewing the ‘Printable Version’ or not. Surely if you’re printing, the printable version is what you’re after – so why put it another click away?

This site is certainly not unique in this kind of design – and, in may ways, this site in particular is far from perfect. But I do wish that more sites would strive to be more openly compatable: Only when they are will the end-user really have full choice of which browser they prefer.

This post was filed under: Technology.

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