Helping Your Clients Understand Standards, Testing Your Sites

I just revisited an article by Greg Kise for A List Apart that gives some good tips for explaining the benefits of standards-compliant sites to clients. It also covers some good points for the rest of us, too, such as accessibility, cost, longevity, search engines, and answering clients' questions. Especially helpful are the points about responding to viewing sites in older browsers that may look a bit different:

Tell the Potential Client that you’re really glad he looked at your site with an old browser because this demonstrates how every Internet device—from wireless to Braille—can access all the content on your site. And this includes buggy old browsers like IE4 and Navigator 4. Now, let’s move over to a little more recent browser (like IE5.x) and take another look.

The widest accessibility has always been one of the keys to good web design. After all, that’s why we used those dreadful framesets and tables in the first place. SC websites should actually invite more browsers to view them, not less. And once we get over pixel perfect layouts (as a recovering pixel-nazi, I know it is really, REALLY hard) our designs should look lovely in any newer browser.

It’s also looking like AOL is going to shift to a Mozilla-based browser. I’ve been hearing this rumor get louder over the past year or so, and it appears that it will become a reality for over 30 million AOL subscribers, approximately 30% of the U.S. Internet users. Have you tested sites with Netscape 6 (or Mozilla) yet? As Jeffrey Zeldman states,

This in turn would encourage developers to author with web standards supported by Mozilla/Netscape 6, MSIE 5/6, and Opera 5/6, instead of crafting sites optimized exclusively for MSIE."

We ought to be doing that anyway, but too many designers and developers don’t or they do only very limited testing.

  1. If you don’t have Macs and PCs and all the above browsers loaded (plus version 4 browsers and maybe lower, depending on your visitors), there are quite a few good design-oriented discussion lists that will do cross-browser, cross-platform testing for each other. You’ll have fun, make new friends and colleagues, and learn more than money could buy, especially from returning the favor, too.
  2. has an amazing browser archive where you can download browsers to your heart’s content.
  3. Hang on to those old computers and use them for testing purposes or pick up an old used one.
    --My old 486 PC, for example, has Internet Explorer 4 with Windows 95 and a 14-inch monitor that I can use for testing.
    --If you have a laptop in addition to your main computer, keep a different Internet Explorer version on each one for testing.

07:09 am, pst24 March, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·';}?>

Categories: Browsers, CSS, Design, Software, Standards, Web Biz

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