The first thing I ask when someone tells me that they can’t open a web page correctly or something is now displaying on a site, is what browser they are using. Usually the answer is “I don’t know” (and sometimes it’s “what’s a web browser? I’m using Windows”). I’m not trying to be condescending (although a certain Canadian comedian does come to mind). It’s just that most people that are not in IT just use Internet Explorer because it comes with Windows and don’t realize that there’s also FireFox, Safari, Chrome, etc. That doesn’t even include the fact that there are various versions of these browsers and that they all work differently.
My point is that as a web development company, we have to have our sites work in all major browsers and that’s really like answering to 4 different bosses who all want something different. Otherwise, you end up with a great site or a business automation solution that only works for some people. As an example, when we released this version of intechnic.com, I would say that about 30% to 40% of all quality assurance time went into cross-browser testing and getting everything to look and work the same way. Now imagine all web development companies having to do it for all sites that they develop. Let’s not even mention new versions of browsers that come out that may not offer the same exact support that their previous versions did. This becomes even more of an issue when dealing with e-commerce web sites and enterprise 2.0 solutions that depend on accurate accounting and secure information management.
I would equate this situation with music companies making 4 different formats of music CDs that constantly change and the CD player manufacturers having to support the formats and any changes to them. Sounds over the top, doesn’t it?