Has a friend checked out your site recently and told you that it looks awful? Did you rush to your computer only to see a beautiful site?
If you had no idea what they were talking about, chances are they were using a handheld device like a tablet or phone and your site isn’t mobile responsive – or they were visiting your site with an old browser. Let’s talk about the latter for now.
Older (okay, really old) versions of most browsers have been known to display the most beautiful of sites all wonky. They were made before a lot of the currently accepted CSS / HTML of today, which is not always backward compatible.
Find Out What Browser They’re Using
You can ask your friend to tell you what browser and version number they’re using. The easiest way to get this answer? Send them to What Browser.
If you’re concerned that a large portion of your website visitors / blog readers are using older software, you can check Google Analytics to see what browser / platform is most popular. Go to Analytics > Audience > Technology > Browser & OS…then you can click on the individual browsers to see what versions are in use.
On a side note: Most companies – Google included – have given up and are no longer supporting IE6 because it is just so terrible (that’s the word of the masses) and yet a lot of offices still use it. If IE is making your site render all wonky, I wouldn’t worry too much. It will eventually be but a memory.
Test Different Versions of Browsers
Once you know what platform folks are looking at your site on, you can inspect your site in different browsers.
You can check your site in the most recent versions of Chrome / IE / FireFox / Safari / Opera if you’re interested in cross-browser compatibility. We do this when designing and launching a new site.
Most of the time everything is honky-dory. Sometimes, however, certain elements just won’t cooperate across browsers and troubleshooting is needed.
In addition to testing websites on our studio computers, we often check our coding and design in different versions of popular browsers, because not everyone updates their software on a regular basis. Programs like Browsershots, Browserling, and ViewLikeUS are free and easy to use: just enter the URL and away you go.
Comfortable editing code? Then head to Google and search for fixes. More often than not, someone out there has had the same issue…and found a solution. I’d suggest a specific search like ‘Why does my web font look so bad in FireFox?’ or ‘Why doesn’t my WordPress header align properly in IE?’.
If, however, you’re not comfortable with code (perhaps you attempted to make changes and that’s why your site looks funny?) you can always reinstall the theme / files (you did make a backup, right?) or ask for help.
P.S. We’ll discuss the other potential issue (a site that isn’t mobile responsive) in another article.