Page Two

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-11-22 Print this article Print

When it comes to Web sites that are accessible by the public, Web designers say there is no reason not to support a multitude of browsers. At Swim OK LLC, a Web design company in San Diego, designers try to make every Web site they work on cross-platform-compatible.

"One out of 10 people is locked out of your Web site if you are only coding for IE," said Jimmy Chan, Swim OKs creative director. "Every project has to be compatible with at least the top two or three browsers—its our responsibility as designers and programmers to make sure a site is accessible."

Enterprise application vendors, however, follow a different set of rules and face different complications.

Vendors that have written code to work specifically with IE rather than Web standards, for example, will need to go back to optimize their applications for Firefox. On top of that, testing is required to ensure cross-browser compatibility. As a result, some vendors say they plan to wait until customers begin asking for IE alternatives.

At Eloqua Corp., a marketing automation service provider in Toronto, for example, the thick-client functionality the companys application provides is the main reason Eloqua has standardized on IE.

"I personally think Firefox is a great browser, but to minimize our efforts in browser optimization for our application, weve chosen to stick with one browser for now," said Eloqua Chief Technology Officer Steven Woods. "We will optimize for Firefox when our customer base reaches 10 or 15 percent."

At WebSurveyor Corp., in Herndon, Va., executives said theyve seen an increasing number of customers access their applications using non-IE browsers. As a result, the company has worked to ensure its online Web survey applications work the same regardless of the browser being used.

Click here to read about messaging and calendaring applications that can be used with Firefox. Although WebSurveyor customers using the applications to build Web surveys are required to use a browser that supports CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript, designers have consciously avoided Microsofts ActiveX Controls and used core HTML to create a robust Web application that is compatible across platforms.

"When you have a product that is used by a wide range of people, you have to support as many platforms as possible," said David Allison, CTO at WebSurveyor. "To be honest, our biggest challenge is across OS support. The difference between IE and Firefox is really minimal."

There are definite benefits to supporting multiple browsers, too. Executives at Inc., for example, said they have won some accounts in part because of their decision to support multiple browser platforms.

"Were moving to an on-demand world, and one of the ways in which we access applications in this world is through Web browsers," said Adam Gross, director of product marketing at, in San Francisco. "Customers ask about different platforms all the time."

Next page: Boosting Firefox with extensions.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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