Every web design is broken

by Michael Scharnagl

This article has been updated the last time on January 8, 2013 and the given information may be not accurate anymore. Feel free to contact me on twitter to get more details.

What an attention-grabbing title, isn’t it. Actually it’s how the web works, belief it or not. Just to be clear, I don’t talk about websites looking different on different browsers, OS, screen resolution – whatever, a website looking different is actually a great thing, every website should look diverse on different platforms. Point.

What I mean is, that every single website out there is broken in one or another browser, just because you will never ever be able to test on every single browser still in use. At the latest after looking at this diagram of web browsers it should be clear, even if you only want to test on all browsers released in the past 3 years, 24 hours a day won’t be sufficient.

Hey, I am the web, I change my clothes more often than Madonna

Last year, Brad Frost shared a screenshot showing google.com on loads of different android browsers, and as you can see, even a simple page like google.com looks broken on one browser, in this case Skyfire. So, hey if even a global player like Google, serves a broken landingpage to one or another browser.

Screenshot showing google.com rendered on different android browsers

Works on all devices is plain bullshit

Thinking of 2012, this is probably the most stupid marketing slogan I heard. Every time someone claims this, I opened up the site/app/whatevermarketingguyscallit on Opera Mini and boom, in 90% of all cases, it didn’t work. Ah, I thought, that’s marketing language, “all” means iOS and Android Stock Browser only, ah how stupid of me thinking that “all”, actually means “all”, you know, marketing is not my passion I guess.

But, eehm, shouldn’t we change this

As the article comes to an end, and you probably learned nothing, besides that I am not the best friend of marketing slogans, I don’t want to leave you back without some simple advices. The web is unpredictable, is moving forward faster than a spaceship while still being the good old companion we loved, hated and loved again for ages. Your web design is broken and will broke again and again. New browsers emerge, while old for year outdated browsers are still in use. You can’t change this, but you can make the most out of it.

The best way, to reduce the amount of browsers, where something may be broken, is building a website in a future-friendly way, using progressive enhancement and accessibility always in mind. And, please don’t blame users using an old browser or a tiny screen. The only one you can blame, is yourself, if you look out browsers using ua sniffing or whatever, yes I am looking at you Google Maps. And now, after reading a lot of words for a simple thought, go out there and make the awesome web even more awesome.

Michael Scharnagl

Portrait Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.