Legal Marketing & Web Design Blog

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Part I: The Desktop

How does your site look in Internet Explorer? How about in Chrome?

Most attorneys have a favorite internet browser. There are the devout Internet Explorer users who have stuck with the browser though 10 different versions over the past 17 years or the Chrome fanatics who prefer the browser’s minimalistic interface and built-in web applications. When developing a website, however, regardless of your personal devotion, it’s absolutely essential that you thoroughly test your site in all of the major browsers on your desktop to ensure optimal functionality in each.

Every month, several companies issue statistics detailing the market share of the major power players. As of June 2013, the breakdown released by StatCounter was as follows:

Browser                          Usage share of desktop browsers
Chrome                             42.68%
Internet                             Explorer 25.44%
Firefox                               20.01%
Safari                                 8.39%
Opera                                 1.03%
Other                                  2.44%

Each of these browsers interprets a site’s CSS code differently which in turn impacts the visual image of a web page. In viewing websites in several browsers, you may find discrepancies in the navigation menu, text layout and even with subtle effects like shadows.

When evaluating your firm’s site, it’s absolutely critical that you go through each page in each of the four major browsers. Whenever possible, also try to view the site in different versions of the browsers to maximize cross-browser functionality.

Of all of the browsers, Internet Explorer Version 8 has proven to be the most troublesome for many webmasters because it does not offer much in the way of CSS support, harming the functionality of many sites. While there are workarounds to address these version-specific issues, you’ll likely require the assistance of professional website developer.

When testing your site in the different browsers, be sure to check the following items:

Graphics– Do they display consistently in each one? Are there are unintended gaps between photos or other design elements?
Navigation menu- With top menus, do all of the pages fit on one line?
Forms– Do they function the same way in each? Check for submissions and confirmation pages.
Blog page– These often contain a sidebar(s). Do these bars display properly in each?
Effects– A professionally designed website is often loaded with effects like shadows, rollovers, link coloring, etc. These may seem minor but they can make a world of difference when it comes to visitor experience. Check that all of these are present in the most popular browsers.

When hiring a website developer for your law practice, you should make certain that they design sites with complete cross-browser functionality. They should also be responsible for thoroughly testing your site in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

Next week, we’ll explore site functionality on tablets and special considerations when optimizing your site for touch screens.