What if you developed a website based on a content management system optimized for one or two browsers? And then found out that your client is using neither — and can’t access your system or tools?

Say “buh-bye” to your new business.

Or, what if you sign a contract with a new online vendor for a key business process — accounting, for instance — only to find out that the application runs on an outmoded browser, forcing your entire team to ditch their upgrade or run two different versions of the same browser, one to work with the application, and one for everything else?

Say “buh-bye” to your sanity.

The new choice in browsers — with Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Google Chrome challenging the still-dominant Internet Explorer (IE) — is forcing us to change the way we think about and choose browsers.

A central question in evaluating Web browsers is this: What, exactly, does your business — or your customers — do online?

Do you rely on Web-based applications for many of your business processes? If so, picking a compatible browser is vital — as is making sure it remains so even as new versions of the application are released.

Many Web-based applications will run on almost all browsers, but exceptions abound. Constant Contact, the well-known Web-based email marketing tool, supports some browsers but not others (one of its rivals, Vertical Response, also works best in Firefox or IE). As eWEEK recently noted, other applications will run on most browsers, but may not perform optimally in each.

If you are developing online products or experiences for your customers, are you assuming everyone will gain access using the same browser? If so, you might be making a big — and costly — mistake. More and more people are attracted to different browsers for different reasons, so taking the time to find out where they are — um, browser-wise — might go a long way to establishing good customer relations and generating repeat business.

A single solution for picking the best browser probably eludes us, but here are a few tips:

  1. Evaluate what you’re doing most online to make sure your choice of browser won’t conflict with your online applications, slow you down, crash your systems, or frustrate your staff.
  2. Investigate and test browsers to see which one — or which mix of two or more — works best for certain tasks.
  3. Read all the different reviews, stay up on the latest evaluations, and know the impact of any upgrade on either application or browser performance.
  4. Learn what your customers are doing online and don’t make assumptions.
  5. Choose vendors and developers that understand browser technology, features, compatibility, customization, and performance and can match you with a system that meets your needs.

Do browsers still bewilder you? Contact us for more insights.

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