Make the Web compatible?

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

It must be 1999 again because someone is writing about browser incompatibilities:

Users won’t switch browsers, they’ll switch sites

You might think that users will switch browsers to use your site. But many won’t or can’t.

Users have no patience for things that don’t work, and they’ll just go to a competitor’s site instead. Failing at a critical point could turn a potential user away forever. According to Akamai,

32% of users who encounter a problem on your site are less likely to make online transactions with your company
35% will have a more negative perception of your company
45% are less likely to visit your web site again
And more than 1 in 5 users (22%) will leave for good.
What’s more, many users don’t know how to install a new browser, or even know what a browser is (many users don’t know the difference between a browser, a search engine, and a web site).

And even if users know how to install a new browser, and want to, they might not be able to. Many companies mandate which browsers their employees are allowed to use, and many people use public computers in places like libraries.

For example, Microsoft gave a deadline of Jan. 12, 2016 for users to switch to a newer version of the browser, but in March more than a third of IE users remained on outdated versions that no longer receive security updates. The 2.07% of IE users currently running IE8 are on a browser that Microsoft no longer patches; the same goes for more than three-quarters of the 1.59% on IE9 and for virtually all of the 10.95% who ran IE10 last month.

Broken web experiences drive users away. If half of your users are on a different browser, and you want to keep them, testing it in that browser is essential.

There is, of course, another route we could go, which is to allow a virtual machine on the client that can load any virtual run time — what the JVM has done on the server. Then there would be no need reach agreement on a standard. The problem with this model so far is every attempt to build a runtime on the client has been sabotaged by the short-term greed of the company behind the project (think, Flash, JavaFX, Swing, Silverlight, etc).

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