Browser support refers to the way in which a website is designed with regard to which web browser programs will effectively display and communicate with that website. This is a major consideration for website designers and software programmers who work with the different programming languages used in creating Internet websites. Different web browsers often support different functions, so an understanding of what features are supported by which browsers allows a designer to consider browser support in making a website that is easy to view and navigate for as many users as possible.
One of the major aspects of browser support in webpage design is an understanding of the various features utilized by different web browsers. A web browser is a software program used to view and navigate websites on the Internet. There are a number of browsers available, and different programs will often support different aspects of website design. Some of the most common web browsers are Firefox®, Internet Explorer®, and Opera™.
As a website developer designs and creates a website, using one or more languages and scripts for different aspects of the website, he or she considers browser support for the common browsers. The developer typically makes sure that the majority of users will be able to properly view the site, regardless of what browser they are using. This can include creating multiple versions of a website, with each version designed to take advantage of the different features of a specific browser. Such browser support can be largely inefficient, however, so it is typically considered easiest to make a single site that can be effectively viewed through multiple browsers.
One major aspect of effective browser support is often referred to as “graceful degradation,” which refers to the process of ensuring a website can be downgraded for different viewers. While it is common for a website designer to create a website that is interesting and enjoyable to view on fast connections with updated browsers, it is often considered a good practice to ensure such features are not required. Graceful degradation is the process of using scripting and programming to ensure a website can still be viewed on older machines or less sophisticated browsers, while allowing users with faster connections or hardware to enjoy a more detailed version of the same webpage. This ensures browser support not only across different browsers, but also among users of different versions of a single browser.