Different Angles

Do you look in the mirror in the morning? Do you look to make sure everything looks fine? How many angles do you look at?

Designing web sites requires that you look at a lot of different angles. Once upon a time, we only had to check two or three “angles” – looking at the sites we develop in browsers like Internet Explorer  and Netscape – then to be replaced by Firefox.

Now we have to check from a wide variety of different angles. While we no longer support IE 6, we do get requests from time to time to make sure the site looks good in IE 7 (if you are using IE 7, you should upgrade as it is less secure than 8 or 9). We also design for Firefox – typically if it looks good in one version it looks good in any version, Chrome – which is biting into both IE and Firefox’s share of the browser market, and Safari which is pretty much holding its own this year with anywhere between 3.6% to 4.2% of the market.

The new angles that we have to consider carefully are all the handheld devices. Android, iPhone, iPad, Xoom, BlackBerry and more.  And much like a fun house mirror makes you look very different, your web site often looks very different on a handheld device.

Handling the different looks takes forethought. Our preferred solution is to give a very different look to the content.  The general example I like to use is 9news.com. Visit their site on a computer and it is very visual with lots of video links – which is very understandable considering it is a TV web site. But visit it on a handheld and you’re taken  to a site that looks much less visual and instead delivers the news in a text format.  I’m not sure whether 9news has two separate sites or just uses cascading style sheets to present two different looks.

This last option, using cascading style sheets, is our preferred method to handle the handheld “angle” because then you only have to develop one web site and simply display it in two different ways. Have you checked out your web site from different angles?


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