For the month of November, 88% of visitors to my Writing Wizard website use Internet Explorer, while only 7% use Mozilla Firefox. How does this affect my approach to web design? Well, although I check my sites in Firefox, if they don’t work correctly, I honestly don’t care!
Tech-heads and Firefox fanboys will rave about tabbed browsing, rss web feeds, security and extensions. And yes, Firefox offers loads of extensions to make life easier for webmasters, but how many of my visitors are webmasters? Probably less than 1%.
Having just seen that some of pages look screwy in Firefox, I’m left frustrated that regular people are still jumping on the Firefox bandwagon. I could fix up my sites so they work with both browsers, but why spend hours doing that for the minority of Firefox users who, in my opinion, would have a less bug-ridden browsing experience if they just followed the masses and used IE7.
This is what confuses me. Now that Internet Explorer 7 is freely available and offers all the modern comforts one would expect from a browser (tabbed browsing, rss support, and security), why bother with Firefox?
A friend of mine in Canada uses Firefox, not because he wants to but simply because the I.T guy installed it on all the computers in his office. How many companies and colleges are using Firefox just because the tech guy thinks it’s better? Isn’t it like using betamax video recorders despite the dominance of VHS?
While Firefox fans such as the I.T guy in the above scenario continue to force their preferred browser on people, I worry that those unknowing users will suffer in the long term. In my opinion, there must be thousands of webmasters like myself who simply can’t be bothered to iron out bugs for the sake of a few Firefox users. This will lead to thousands of Firefox-unfriendly websites, and all those people like my friend in Canada will become frustrated at not being able to views sites properly.
The solution? The World Wide Web Consortium is doing all they can to encourage webmasters like me to comply with web design standards for compatibility across different browsers. However, personally I think it would just be much easier to get everyone to use the same browser. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if that were Firefox, but considering I.E’s overwhelming hold on the browser market, switching to IE7 just seems to be more sensible.
Hmm… I guess that’s like trying to persuade Mac users to use Windows!
Update (Dec 2nd, 2007): One year after writing this post the percentage of IE users has dropped only 2%. All IE users combined currently account for 86% of visitors to my Writing Wizard site.