[ Best viewed with any browser ]

Do you insist that people chuck their inferior browsers and download your favorite before viewing your pages? Do you think that if their software can't parse your own preferred idiosyncratic, non-standard version of HTML, they should get a real browser? Well, in my humble opinion, you should

Get a Real Web Site!

Why? When you tell people to "get a real browser", you're assuming a lot of things:

  1. That they have control over which browser they use. Most Web users subscribe to Internet services where they log into a remote computer and can only use what is available there. Think of the 10+ million people on AOL, for instance.
  2. That they can download the browser. How do you know the viewer isn't using a 14.4 modem? What about space limitations on their hard drive or in their online account? Also, some services limit download sizes, or charge extra for large downloads.
  3. That the browser will run on their system. Computers browsing the Web may be running MacOS, MS-DOS, one of the many flavors of Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, SunOS, Solaris, OS/2... and those are just some of the popular operating systems. Is your browser going to run on all of those?

    And let's not forget hardware-- is it going to run well on a 286? With a monochrome monitor? With only keyboard control?

  4. That they are capable of using the browser. For instance, a graphical browser isn't going to do a heck of a lot of good for a blind person. (Yes, there are quite a few blind people on the net.)
  5. That they want to go through the hassle of installing and learning a new browser. They'll have to sit through the install, set all their preferences, get used to a new interface, and sometimes learn a new set of terms. This takes time they may not want to spend.
  6. That they are so dissatisfied with their current browser that they will be ready and willing to abandon it in favor of yours. The viewer may actually want to be using a browser that you consider uncool. Some want to avoid intrusive advertising. Some choose not to have Java or cookies for security reasons. Some use text browsers for quicker download times. None of these people is going to give up their favorite browser just because you tell them to.
  7. That seeing your pages is worth all this hassle. You're asking a lot of the viewer. Will they feel sufficiently rewarded?

Not convinced yet?

The Any Browser Campaign has a substantial list of links to more arguments in favor of accessibility. (I particularly recommend "This page is optimized for..." for the business perspective, and Bobby for handicapped-accessibility issues.)

Petréa Mitchell