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by brad

What Does the Browser Say About Your Site?

2:25 pm in Browsers, PPC Marketing Blog, Usability by brad

You should always be aware of what your sites look like in different browsers, and check your Web of Trust rating.

The other day I was looking around at CrowdSpring, a website that is fairly trustworthy and does not have any major security flaws that I’m aware of – definitely not a site that is trying to infect your browser. The site worked just fine in FireFox and Internet Explorer. However, I was using Chrome (one of the fastest growing browsers that is already up to 10% market share) the browser stopped me from even continuing to a section of the site and told me there was something wrong with the servers and that a hacker might be involved and that I should really leave the site.

Chrome Browser Error

It turned out it was a server configuration error on crowdspring’s side that was fixed fairly quickly. However, if they had not been alerted by someone – or worse, never check their site in multiple browsers – they may have just continued to lose new customers without understanding why.

This is why it is so important to look at your site in different browsers. Don’t just look at the the homepage, look at your internal pages, especially your conversion pages.

If you do not want to maintain multiple browsers and machines, Cross Browser Testing is a paid solution that can help you out.

Testing your site in multiple browsers is easy. Fixing some of the issues might be difficult – but at least you’re aware of the problem. Not looking around you site in multiple browsers is an easy way to isolate visitors and lose customers to your competition.

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by brad

Google Chrome, Flash fixes for browsers (must read), and Browser Test Info

8:02 am in Browsers, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

There are several known bugs where loading up a flash file will freeze a browser. This is common in IE8, Firefox, and even Chrome. There’s a simple fix: install adobe flash 10.x beta.

Please note, there are a few flash files around the web which will think you’re using such an old version of flash, it will ask you to upgrade to a current version. I’ve not seen this error often, but it’s worth noting.

Upgrading to Flash 10x beta

  • For all non IE browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc)
    • Visit the uninstall page and uninstall the plug-in
    • Visit the install page and use the ‘Download plug-in-in’ for whichever OS you have
  • For IE…
    • First, get IE8. This is not a requirement, but IE8 has been stable through my use and is much faster than IE7. It’s actually worth upgrading to the beta product (but it is beta – so at your own risk)
    • Secondly, visit the uninstall page and run the uninstaller for IE
    • Lastly, visit the install page. You will want to run ‘ActiveX Control for Windows’ to install the new flash in IE

While Flash is a standard, if most of what you’re using flash for is to view YouTube videos, get the Better YouTube extension. One of the options is to use an alternate player that I’ve found to be more stable.

Google Chrome

I must admit my fascination with Google’s new browser, Chrome, wore off after trying to use the program for a few hours and I’ve never looked back. My issues had nothing to do with the privacy issues or TOS.

I like my plug-ins (which will be coming for Chrome). I regularly surf with both FlashBlock and NoScript installed so I can control what is being executed within my browser. I was amazed the Google Toolbar couldn’t be installed, nor other toolbars. I can’t imagine life without RoboForm. Not to mention the plethora of other plug-ins I use (which someday I’ll write about).

I didn’t find that it really worked as advertised. Google Analytics timed out on me several times and ‘crashed’ a tab. IE8 and Firefox ran Analytics just fine. Is there some additional protection going on in the script execution that is causing some site not to work well with Chrome?

While Chrome supposedly has the best Acid Test results (but I’ve heard that depends a lot on the OS), you can also run your own script speed benchmark on Google’s site. When I ran this test on my mini-laptop, Firefox beat Chrome on 3 of the 5 tests. Chrome did beat IE7 on most tests, but watch out for IE8 it just seems leaner than IE7.

However – and this amazes me – when I look at this site’s statistics, this is the browser usage since Tuesday (and my browser isn’t counted in these stats):

Browser stats for bgTheory Percent Usage
Firefox 57.71%
Internet Explorer 38.38%
Safari 4.41%
Chrome 4.16%
Opera, Seamonkey, etc… Less than 1% each

It’s easy to look at W3 to see their overall browser stats which look like this for August 08:

Browser stats from W3 Percent Usage
IE (all) 50.6%
Firefox 43.7%
Safari 2.6%
Opera 2.1%

While I knew my audience was a bit higher in alternate browsers than the typical Internet audience – that’s a fair amount of Chrome users; especially considering I receive a lot of traffic from Google’s seminar page that is just general advertisers and not necessarily the early adopters of new products, such as the more technical audience which regularly reads this blog. I’ll have to wait a few weeks and look at the browser stats again. It could just be those testing out Chrome before returning to other browsers.

Browser Resources

And now for some resources you can use to ensure your site is cross-browser compatible:

Preview your site in IE8 (please note, IE8 also has a really cool tool that lets someone view the site in an IE7 compatibility mode)

Browsershots allows a lot of previewing, across different browsers, screen resolutions, and OS. This is one of my favorite preview tools.

Browsercam is one of the most sophisticated tools. It also does mobile device screenshots.

W3 Screen Resolution information.  Don’t forget, a little more than 76% of clicks occur ‘above the fold’ and only 0.4% occur to the right (0.3% right above the fold, 0.1% right below the fold). Know your audience and their screen resolution.

W3 Browser Stats. Firefox is gaining ground faster than anyone thought it would.

Just Remember…

Always look at your stats; not just these averages.

If your audience is senior citizens on AOL dial-up with browser resolutions of 800×600; your focus should be on easily resizing fonts (no absolute fonts – this groups wants control of that arena) and quick loading images.

If your audience is Firefox 3.1 beta users with over 1900x screen resolutions on T1 lines; go ahead and use those high res photos.

Averages give you a starting place – Your stats will tell you what to do next.

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