Best viewed with Browser X

Remember the good old days? When every known website in the galaxy featured a shiny button with the words "Best viewed in browser X", prominently placed on a splash page or maybe on a separate error page. Using a different browser than the one preferred by the site designer, more than occasionally meant that the complete site would be unavailable. Well I do remember, and to be honest it wasn't anything good about it!

If you weren't surfing the web last century, the practice with "best viewed in" buttons was a thing of the first browser wars in the mid -90s. I don't know who first started with the buttons, but if guessing I'd have to say Microsoft. To be totally honest I do remember sticking a IE button on my personal site, it didn't take long though before it was accompanied by a button recommending Netscape. I had just started creating web pages, and few people didn't put words like standards, compliance and accessibility in the same sentences as web design.

Amongst the few who did was Tim Berners-Lee (Technology Review, 1996)

Anyone who slaps a 'this page is best viewed with Browser X' label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.

It's 2004 - The web is open and accessible

A site that's unusable in OperaI used to think that we had moved away from browser dependent sites. At least in such a way that sites developed today weren't discriminating users based on their choice of browser. Well, I was wrong. When I made the switch a couple months ago I found that out rather quickly. Although most sites behaved well, several sites and services I regularly used were unusable in Opera. The screenshot is actually a of web design company, not that this was a site I visited frequently, but it goes to show that it isn't just people developing personal homepages that has got it wrong.

Anyway, the decision to drop sites that weren't usable in my preferred (and standards compliant) browser wasn't that hard. If a company doesn't trust me to choose which browser is best for me, I really don't see any reason why I should do business with them. Their loss...

In from the right...

Earlier today I was creating a "browser button slideshow" to be used on this site. Not with the best viewed in kind of buttons mentioned above, but with buttons that promote several secure and standards compliant alternatives (to IE) in the browser market. Then in from the right enters SpreadFirefox.com - Mozilla.org's (self proclaimed?) "marketing department" - working to spread awareness of Firefox amongst internet users. Their initiative to spread the adoption of Firefox is great, which is why I visited the site to pick up a button to use here on this site. It soon became apparent that the site had some glitches in the design when viewed with Opera. Being that they they have a forum I though I'd post a message there to make the designers aware of the problems. I found my way to the signup form, filled in the requested details and hit submit. (...) Nothing happened!

Turns out it was the extra design elements (of the forms button) stopped me from submitting the form. A rather significant accessibility issue, and all the more reason to contact the people behind the site. So I went ahead and submitted the signup form through another browser. Awaiting the activation email I started reading some articles posted on their blog (by users) and came across a post about the buttons used to promote Firefox. It was a suggestion to use a newly created "best viewed in Firefox" button and serve differentiated content to different browsers.

At this point I gave up on SpreadFirefox and started writing this article instead...

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