Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

October 18, 2000
Compatibility Concerns
Your Web site may look great on a PC, but Mac and Web TV users may see something completely different

So you have a Web site, and it looks really good, but did you or your designer ever test it on other computers or browsers? Do you have any idea what your site looks like on a Macintosh or an older computer browser or even Web TV? If you don't, you might want to take a look. Brace yourself because you may not like what you see.

Believe it or not, in this world of advancing technology, Web browsers are still not all alike. Your site may look great on Microsoft's Explorer for PC, ok on Netscape for PC, but it could be tiny and unreadable on a Macintosh. So what's the solution? Simply, you need to look at your Web site in older versions of PC browsers and in Explorer and Netscape on a Macintosh. You might want to track down someone with Web TV to see how your site looks there too, and don't forget about the America Online browser.

It's true that most Web users run Netscape or Explorer on a PC, but you don't want to alienate those potential customers who don't. If the text on your site is too small for some browsers or there are applications on your site that only work on a PC, do you think the affected people will take the time to find other ways to view your site? Absolutely not. If anything, they will tell their friends how horrible your site is. Here are some of the most common compatibility problems you need to test your site for:

  • Font readability - Many fonts that look big on a PC become so tiny they are unreadable on a Mac.
  • Frame sizing - The way frame sizes are interpreted varies by browser. It is quite possible that frames will be sized wrong and text or images will get cut off on a Mac if you designed the site on a PC and vise-versa.
  • Table Layout - The way table spacing is interpreted varies by browser.
  • Line Breaks - PC browsers interpret more spaces than Mac browsers.
  • Java Applets - Applets compiled with a 1.2 compiler won't work on most Mac browsers even if the applet is 1.1 compatible.
Those are just the most common compatibility problems, but there are more. You can't just ignore other browsers now that the iMac and Web TV are growing in popularity. If you are creating a site that will only work on a PC, consider how customers without a PC will react when they can't access your site. You may want to create another version of the site for those people. It may be extra work, but it will make your site more customer-friendly.

For more compatibility help, check out ZDNet Developer ( There are articles on compatibility issues as well as online tools that will test your site for problems.

- by Julia M. Duncan