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Creating sites for browser compatibility

As you create your site, you should be aware of the variety of web browsers your visitors are likely to use. There are over two dozen different web browsers in use, most of which have been released in more than one version. Even if you target only Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, which are used by the majority of web users, be aware that not everyone uses the very latest versions of those browsers. If your site is on the web, sooner or later someone will visit it using Netscape Navigator 2.0, or the browser that AOL provides its customers, or a text-only browser such as Lynx.

Under most circumstances, for websites designed for public viewing, it's a good idea to make your site viewable in as many browsers as possible. Pick one or two browsers as your target browsers, and design the site for those browsers, but try exploring the site in other browsers occasionally to avoid including too much incompatible content. You can also post a message on a discussion board to ask others to view your site. This can be a good way to get feedback from a wide audience.

The more sophisticated your site is—in terms of layout, animation, multimedia content, and interaction—the less likely it is to be cross-browser-compatible. Not all browsers can run JavaScript, for example. A page of plain text that uses no special characters will probably display well in any browser, but such a page may have much less aesthetic appeal than one that uses graphics, layout, and interaction effectively. Try to strike a balance between designing for maximum effect and designing for maximum browser compatibility.

One useful approach is to provide multiple versions of certain important pages, such as your site's home page. For example, you can design both a framed version and a frameless version of such a page. You can then include in your web page a behavior that automatically shifts visitors without frame-capable browsers to the frameless version. For more information, see Dreamweaver Help (Help > Using Dreamweaver > Working with Behaviors and Animations > Using JavaScript Behaviors > Using the behavior actions that come with Dreamweaver).

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