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If you’ve spent hours on the design of your web site and poured over its code for days, you have done the same thing that millions of web site owners already have. Another thing you’ve probably done is completely ignore one vital aspect of your web site that matters above all else: its compatibility.
Why Does Web Site Compatibility Matter?
The reason why web site compatibility is so important is because this will determine on how many devices, servers and browsers your site will function properly, as well as in how many resolutions. If your site is only compatible with one browser, only those visitors who are using that browser will be able to see your site, which means fewer eyes, less traffic and less revenue for you.
The good news is that you can open your site up to the entire world by testing it for compatibility. But most site owners think that you need some kind of specialized knowledge in order to do this. Thankfully, all you need are a few tips and resources to test your site like the pros.
Consulting Your Customers
A good way to begin site compatibility testing is to find out which programs your customers are using to access your web site. And your visitor preferences can be easily discovered by consulting your web site logs. This information will also be available in any analytics software that you may be using.
Experts say that web site compatibility should be tested every 3 to 6 months. But there are so many browsers and other factors affecting the compatibility of your site; how can you possibly test all of that, and on a regular basis, no less?
Compatibility Programs and Services
While there may have been very little in the way of compatibility testing options just a few years ago, times have definitely changed. Today there is a multitude of both free and paid resources for compatibility testing.
CrossBrowserTesting allows for both free and paid testing of your web site. In just five minutes, you can see for free how your site looks in one or two browsers. Paid users can test their sites and have a lot more than five minutes to do it in.
IETester is a free download which is a web browser plus compatibility tester. However, it only tests how your site looks in different version of Internet Explorer.
Browser Shots is another free testing resource. It allows a URL to be tested in several Linux, Windows, Mac and BSD browsers, making it a good “one-stop” compatibility measurement tool.
With so many millions of people accessing the internet using their mobile devices, it only makes sense to test your site for mobile compatibility as well. This will require ensuring your site works at the smaller resolutions of mobile devices.
You will also want to concentrate on those mobile operating systems which are currently dominating the market, as these users will likely be the ones who visit your site the most with their mobile devices. Android devices come in a few different varieties. As you test, make note of which changes worked well almost immediately, and which ones didn’t take right away.
Depending on the size and popularity of your web site, you may find that hiring the expertise of a compatibility service may be more feasible than doing it yourself. After all, testing your site for compatibility can be a time-consuming and cumbersome process that, like other web site tasks may be best left to professionals.
Whichever method you choose to test your site for compatibility, it’s always important to ensure that you continue to keep the needs of your customer at the forefront. Doing so will not only help your site to look as it should to all of your customers, but will keep them coming back to purchase your products and services.
Guest author Jesse Schwarz is a frequent contributor at HostingAndBackup.com, a site dedicated to helping lay people sort through issues related to owning their own website.