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Web Design 1011:  Interoperability, Accessibility, Compliance, & Branding.    

Interoperable Web Design

...for a World With Many Types of Browser.

While the establishment of a common HTML standard is theoretically, the best way to curb market segmentation of the web by browser developers attempting to pressure sites into a favourable browser specific design, in practice, there as many interpretations of the HTML standard as there are browser engines. So it is crucial to the site's web design, that the developer ensures site display of all features is consistent and predictable in various browser engines.

While there are techniques for separate coding of advanced HTML/CSS features, the most reliable way to keep browsers from making excessively tenuous interpretations is to prevent them from slipping into "quirks mode". This is as simple as placing the applicable document type statement before the opening <html> tag. An Example of the Strict HTML 4.01 document type statement is as follows:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

As you can see, this tells the browser exactly which HTML standard is in place and to the greatest degree possible, how you want your HTML interpreted. The use of methods such as the star selector (CSS) and the child selector (CSS) to separate layout interpretation issues have been complicated by recent changes to Microsoft's Document Object Model as it applies to Internet Explorer 7. RealmEleven deploy solutions to manage the new behavioural aberrations of Internet Explorer 7, however they are both subtle and complex.

A key to establishing standard page behaviour in multiple browsers is the scientific method. Install a suitable number of web browsers, and as you develop your page, compare how these pages are presented in various web browsers. If there is a difference, then you either need to validate your mark-up to eliminate errors (errors are the biggest cause of browser differentiated page behaviour), or begin to experiment with various techniques of subsequently applying mark-up targeting the problem browser that is hidden from other browsers. This kind of forked coding can be complex and very difficult to manage, which is why a professional service such as our own or dedicated content management software is particularly important in such cases.

More information on multiple browser compatibility can be found @: