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A visit to W3C site is mind boggling. Many standards that were introduced by this organisation years ago are only just beginning to become accepted. Added to this their tendency to introduce new standards on a regular basis, and complexity of those standards, I feel that they aren't doing themselves too many favours on quick uptake of new technologies.
On other end of scale, much of software used for producing web sites is notorious for creating non-compliant and garbage code. I use FrontPage, but to combat some of garbage that it creates, I also utilise Notepad. Cleaner coding also makes your pages more search engine friendly. FrontPage is great for rapid application development, but it contains many features that aren't cross-browser compatible. I have also trialled other major packages, but found same issues. Once again, W3C has given many guidelines for software developers to adopt, but industry is very slow on uptake. Perhaps whole process of developing standards needs to be re-examined. While there are many sites that will offer you advice on cross browser compatibility; I still find best way to deal with issue is to run a variety of browsers on a system and test pages as they are being developed under various resolutions. Then experiment; with experimentation will come a great deal of learning....
When first attempting to deal with cross-browser issues on my site, I followed some advice of industry leaders and found advice to be flawed, and I am still working out bugs in my major site. A word of warning - if you are running a later version of IE on your system, I would advise against attempting to install an earlier version; it can really mess with your system. The best option in this situation is to view your site from another system, or ask an associate with an earlier version to review your site and to send screen captures if a problem appears. Aim to make your site compatible with all IE and Netscape browsers from version 4 onwards.
Ask yourself before implementing that whizz-bang menu system or element that requires a plug-in - "is it really necessary?". Most people surf net for information, not entertainment at this stage - they have a T.V for that. "Eye Candy" may impress visitors first time around, but after that if it slows down performance of your site, it will serve only to annoy them. The exception to this rule of course is if you are developing an entertainment-centric site.
If you receive emails from angry visitors stating that your site looks like manure; perhaps instead of disregarding comments or firing back a retaliatory note, you should investigate by asking for details. It may prove to be a beneficial exercise. The site may be looking fine to you on your system, but perhaps it's not case with browsers that some visitors are using.
The truth is, tailoring a site for cross browser compatibility is a pain. "Compliancy" by W3C standards by no means indicates compatibility with all browsers. But benefits of taking that bit of extra time can pay off in long run by allowing you to get your message across, or to secure sales from a wider customer base.
Michael Bloch firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.tamingthebeast.net Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community. Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development solutions. _____________________________________________
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Michael is an Australian Information Technologies trainer and web developer. Many other free web design, ecommerce development and Internet articles, tutorials, tools and resources are available from his award winning site; Taming the Beast.net (http://www.tamingthebeast.net)