Anne, Fix My Computer. The Page Doesn't Look Right!

I hate to tell people that they need to change to fix a problem, but sometimes it's the only answer I have. More and more I am finding the solution to rendering problems(techy for: the page doesn't look or work right) in one browser is to try another browser. People don't particularly like to change, I know that. Setting that aside, less often, but adding to the problem, I also find people don't even know what a "browser" is. So when they call and I say, "Oh, that's just Internet Explorer interpreting the code differently than the designer intended.", I can almost see the "deer in the headlight" eyes through the phone. If I am not thinking... I further explain that the caller has not been using "Google" or "MSN" or "AOL", as they refer to it, but a browser, an application called "Internet Explorer" or "Safari" for instance. At this point, I can tell headlights are growing brighter because their audible breathing pattern becomes irregular. That usually wakes me and I start from the beginning... But I digress... Those training situations are best handled one on one. If you know what a browser is, here is a little explanation why things don't work in one, when they work in another and vise verse.

No matter how hard techies try to standardize interpretations for website code (cuz there is code behind what you see in a browser -- you know that, right?), browser vendors have to create their products to act to the standard and make the screen and computer do what the website coder intended. The articulation of the standards is imperfect. Microsoft and Apple especially, frequently decide to translate the code one writes for a web page to the screen differently from each other but consistent with an interpretation (or misinterpretation) of a standard. They have a little advantage on the other guys because their browsers come with their operating systems, so they are of the opinion that their interpretation is right... I don't want to get into any righteous arguments, just saying that this is how it works.

So if one writes a website correctly for Internet Explorer or Safari, it can work goofy in other browsers and vise verse making for a lot of complex coding and testing if one wants their design to look and act the same regardless of browser... which is what most users want... to pick their browser and use it without problems. Add all the different types of devices into this mix (device vendors have a role in interpreting standards for display) and you have complexity for the website designer that is a coding and testing nightmare. Complexity adds cost. Cost makes business people go ballistic on us poor designers,.. "How hard can it be to change a lousy picture!?!", They say... and thus there is no one happy. Hmmm... this sounds familiar... Oh ya, democracy! Whoops digressing again.

What I think is happening, is website designers are opting to write for the 3rd party browsers and give MS and Apple the proverbial virtual middle finger. But it's making users nuts. Because the solution when something doesn't work in IE, or Safari, is try it in Firefox or Chrome. And do the inverse if you normally use Firefox or Chrome. I know you don't like that answer, but it's capitalism and democracy at it's best (or worst depending on your perspective). If a page acts the same in all of the browsers but it doesn't work, it might be a bug in the site as coded by the designer or on your computer, so possibly there is something I can do about it... Well, you still have the device drivers in there, but this is suppose to be a short explanation and I am pushing it already... So, let's just say if a page acts different in different browsers and works in one, then likely there is not much I can do except tell you, "Use the one that works."