OK, so you want a web anyone can use, whether they’ve picked Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or whatever came on their cell phone or PDA. What can you do? Here are some ideas:
Try an alternative browser. Use it exclusively for several days. Get used to what it can do, and how it differs from Internet Explorer or the browser you’ve been using.
Better yet, try two. If you already use Firefox, try Opera. If you already use Opera, try Firefox or Chrome. You can always switch back if you like the other one better. The goal is to see what’s out there.
If you find a web browser you like, tell your friends and family. Get them to try it out, or give them a demo.
If you really like the browser, and would like to spread awareness, consider joining a promotional group like Firefox Affiliates or Choose Opera.
Bloggers and Content Providers
Write about your favorite web browser. Encourage your visitors to try it out. Post links or buttons pointing to the download site.
If you agree with the Alternative Browser Alliance‘s goals, feel free to link to us.
Base your design on web standards whenever possible. Take a look at sites like the CSS Zen Garden and A List Apart for ideas. The Mozilla Developer Center and Opera Developer Community are also good resources.
Validate your code. Learn which rules are safe to break. Where you have to use proprietary features, use graceful degradation so that other browsers at least get a usable experience. Some tools for validation include:
- W3C HTML Validator and W3C CSS Validator (online)
- WDG HTML Validator (online)
- Site Valet (online)
- A Real Validator (Windows)
- Validator SAC (Mac OS X)
- WDG Offline Offline HTMLHelp Validator (Linux/Unix commandline)
Try not to make assumptions based on browser detection, which is often wrong by the time the next version of a program rolls around. Where you have to check, detect capabilities, not browsers.
Start a collection of web browsers. When designing a site, check the layout with as many browsers as you can early in the process. Check critical parts of the site before you go live. Sites like Browsershots or BrowserStack can help you with browsers and platforms you don’t actually have.
Do your development on Chrome or Firefox. Both have extensive tools to help you test and debug your websites.
These are just suggestions. You can do as much or as little as you want, as much or as little as you can!
This article originally appeared on the Alternative Browser Alliance in 2005. This is the latest version before I retooled the site a decade later.