Thursday, September 8, 2005

Checking Your Blog's Appearance

One of the issues that arises from time to time is how a blog appears in different browsers. A sure way to lose visitors to your blog is to have a blog that looks bad. But there's always the chance it looks bad and you don't know it.

How? I mean you DO look at your own blog, don't you? Sure you do. But do you look at it in more that one browser?


More than one browser?

Yep. More than one browser. You should be looking at your blog in more than one browser.

It used to not be an issue. Until recently, Internet Explorer has the browser market sewed up. And for good reason. Every Windows computer has Internet Explorer (IE) installed.

Whither Netscape?

A long time ago, Netscape Navigator was the big daddy of all Web browsers. But things changed. And, with the release of Internet Explorer 4, IE had a quality browser that was included in all the computers that most people used. IE 5 and IE 6 strengthened Microsoft's stranglehold on the browser market.

All that meant was that, if your blog looked good in Internet Explorer, it looked good for nearly 95% of all people. Maybe more, depending on your audience. Netscape, once the leader, had lost the lead, seemingly for good.

New Kid On The Block

Netscape hasn't made a comeback, but the Mozilla Project, which was spun out of Netscape after AOL bought the company, has developed a browser called Firefox. And Firefox has made a dent in Internet Explorer's share of the browser market.

Oh, IE is still the dominant browser, but not quite like it used to be. While most computers still have IE installed, not everyone who has IE uses IE.

Me, for instance. I really like Firefox. And we won't go into all the reasons I like it. That's for another time. But, as a blogger, you should be aware that some of your readers probably use Firefox. At one time or another, Firefox users have made up from 20-40%. Recently, stats have hovered around 25% for this little blog. Over at the Alliance, Firefox makes up about 30% of the audience.

So, if you use IE, it would be a good idea to download and install Firefox and on occasion, look at your blog in that other browser. If you're a Firefox devotee, be sure to look at your blog in IE.


This is a particularly critical step you need to take any time you set up a blog, or make a change to your template or style sheets.

Put it this way, if you've changed something about your blog (other than just writing a new post), be sure to check it out in both IE and Firefox. Or, if you're a Mac user, Safari. And, if all you do is write new posts, it's still a good idea to check your blog in Internet Explorer and Firefox, at least once a week. Just in case something in one of your posts causes issues.

Regardless of your own operating system, it's a good idea to check out your site in the most popular browser and in a Mozilla 5 browser, such as Firefox. You may also want to view it in the Mozilla Suite Browser, Opera, Netscape 8, or such. But, at a minimum, IE and Firefox. That covers over 90% of all computer users.

The more of your readers you write for (not just topics, but also appearance), the more of your readers you'll please. And happy readers come back.


  1. But I don't want 2 browsers loaded on my system -- then what?

  2. Then you run the risk of having display issues that you don't know about. (I read your site with Firefox. It looks the same in Firefox and IE.)

    Like everything, it's a decision you have to make.

    Check your stats and see how many non-IE users you have. That's the percentage of readers you risk alienating should a change be made that causes display issues in a non-IE browser.

    There's one site that I must visit with IE because it's nearly impossible to read in Firefox. And there's a chance she loses Firefox readers because of it. And it's a shame, because it's a really good site (one of my favorite sites, and also on your BlogRoll).

  3. IE is the devil. I've been putting together a new site for the company I work for.

    Using some sweet CSS tabbed menus that worked beautifully in Firefox and Opera. No go in IE.

    Took 6 hours or so to get the thing working in IE as it should. IE wastes money within organizations and is just bad for the www in general.

    I hear IE7 is supposed to conform to various web standards a lot better than 5 or 6 did.

  4. Checking my logs, I see a lot of people coming in on Firefox and Safari. One woman in particular uses Safari and visits my site daily, so I'm sure it looks OK even though I have not seen it.

    It was a big surprise to me when I made the switch to Firefox and my site was not looking as good as it did with IE. It was readable, but not as nice - not that my site has any complexity to it. I eventually modified the design accordingly.

    I am to the point now, however, that I would like to find a professional to design my site. I just do not have the time to do the work myself.

  5. tyler:
    Although I have heard reports like that about IE, I haven't experienced them myself. I guess I should consider myself lucky. I'm looking forward to IE7, not just for my own use, but for prodding people to standardize coding, if it does indeed confirm more to standards like you suggest.

  6. oregano:
    Your experience is more like mine. When I first used Firefox, I found some things that didn't quite look the same. But, I found that when I modified them to where they looked good in Firefox, they confirmed to standards and looked good in IE.

    As for professional design, visit phin's blog or sadie's.

  7. Is there a way I can look at my site without installing those other browsers?

  8. I have seen Websites that say they offer such services. Even some for free. I've check out some free ones in the past, and found that they weren't reliable.

    I never checked out any of the pay sites, since installing a browser is free.

    To my knowledge, limited as it is, the only way you can view your site in Firefox is to view your site in Firefox. The only way to view your site in IE is to view your site in IE.

  9. I used Firefox to configure my site, and I've also had the opportunity to use IE (through work of course, IE sucks on the Mac!) to verify. No problems.

    Therefore, I recommend Firefox to all my readers.


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