the graphic design blog that speaks the truth

If you know a thing or two about web development, you’ll realize that the topic of this post is said somewhat tongue in cheek.

Have you ever developed a website, got everything looking and working how you want it, and then decided to test it in Internet Explorer and it all looks different? You’re not alone. It is a well known fact that while popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera are generally similar in their rendering of websites, Internet Explorer behaves a little differently.

There is a common theory doing the rounds on the internet that Internet Explorer is a much inferior browser. Whilst I agree with this viewpoint, I feel this is mainly due to the slow browsing speeds it offers and it’s small amount of support for add-ons and extensions, rather than how it renders websites. The truth of the matter is that Internet Explorer is simply less forgiving than other browsers. It expects everything to be coded cleanly and validly without conflict. If conflicts do exist, that is when your website will start to look differently in Internet Explorer.

Some may view the fact that Internet Explorer is a stricter browser as a bad thing, meaning more work has to be carried out to ensure your website looks the same in all browsers. Whilst I admit this can be annoying and time consuming, you should never get into this position in the first place. If you code your website correctly, it will generally render the same in every browser. Here are a couple of tips for ensuring you don’t encounter the end of project Internet Explorer headache:

  • Code for Internet Explorer First, others second – During the development and testing process, if you test the website using Internet Explorer and it looks how you want it, it will usually look exactly the way you want it to in other browsers.
  • Write valid code – This is something you should be doing anyway, but writing valid code as recognized by the W3C Markup Validation Service is another method to ensuring that your website is cross browser compatible.

Other solutions such as CSS hacks for internet explorer only and  a “best viewed in” message have been suggested in many forums to help combat this age old problem, but these solutions are for the lazy minded out there in my opinion. Do you really want to have to be hacking into the CSS for every website you develop? Do you really want to alienate your Internet Explorer users? “Best Viewed In’ equals “Sorry, we couldn’t be bothered with you, use a better browser” if you ask me.

In an ideal world, Internet Explorer wouldn’t exist, but unfortunately it does, and will do for the foreseeable future. Whilst it’s usage figures have been in gradual decline over the past few years as these figures show, we still have to cater for it, like it or not.



  1. 05/03/15
    10:16 am
    While i don't disagree with you, there is an issue you glossed over a little too much .. The standards imposed with IE are set BY Microsoft themselves in coalition with W3C to which IE STILL does not always allow.. They wanted to be the forefront of standardising and in the process got left behind with the newer, more effiencent (for browser AND developer) methods. Its not that IE itself is anything terrible (although imo a web browser so tightly coupled with the system in the resources and libraries it requires is a security nightmare but thats another issue) Its just thats its always too many steps behind.. Like most things in web technology, if you're not setting the new `standards` (VERY loosely using the term).. You're old news. Having strict rules is fine, but be prepared to pay for 2x the time required to get all the workarounds! :) And square that per older IE version you would like to support to. :) IE.. pfft life is far too short.
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