The question: Can users be persuaded to change browsers?
Recently I asked a question on linkedin about how to encourage users to upgrade or change their browsers. I got a lot of interesting answers and some good ideas, but nothing that put the issue to rest for me. I’m still thinking about browser compatibility. The issue at the heart of this whole deal is the disparaging levels of support that browser producers have for css and HTML. I believe that the answer to the question can be found by educating the end user so they can make the best choices.
Browser compatibility problems
From a development perspective browser compatibility issues make it harder to write web applications that perform as designed because not every browser is going to function the same. Some of them don’t recognize all of the css properties and don’t use all of the functionality of html. This is compounded by the fact that CSS2, CSS3, and html5 are not finished works but have been adopted in part by each of the major browsers to varying extents and in different ways. The lack of timeliness for the production of standards is a bottle neck the progress of the internet.
A browser compatibility benchmark is needed
Enter the Acid3 test by WaSP. This tool is a great piece for end user education because it scores the browsers compatibility with web standards in an easy to understand score and offers an interactive model. Users visiting the url where the test is located watch an animation take place on their screen while a score starting at 0 / 100 increments as the browser is tested. Links with this graphical tool coupled with the right compelling offer could be used encourage users to seek the best possible browser or at least upgrade their current version. Wikipedia has a great writeup on the Acid3 test if you’d like a little more information on what it does and how it works. Testing your browser is as easy as visiting the site. An example of the test result done on Firefox is listed below. You may click the image to test your browser.
Why should I bother?