5 Min SEO Task: How do people see my website in their web browser?

You know what your website looks like; you see it every day, but other’s may have a very different view

Look at it through their eyes. You may be surprised with the results

From looking at the ReallySimpleSEO stats I’d say there are about twenty different types of website browser (including mobile) in regular use.

90 per cent of visitors are using the big four

Over 90 per cent of visitors are using the big four, that is Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. The other 10% comes from browsers like Opera or the smartphone browser like, Android, BlackBerry and so on.

Each browser renders the page in a different way

Each of these 20 browsers renders the page in a different way, and some like the mobile browsers can be very different. There can also be further variations depending on the users operating system and the way their have their computer set up.

Web site designers have struggled with trying to ensure their web designs worked in all the main browsers, since the start of the web, and often it is a very frustrating task, due to each browser having a different way of seeing the page.

Why does it matter?

You may be thinking, does it really matter? Is it really worth going to all this trouble for a few small differences? Actually the differences between the way a website displays in different browsers can sometime be quite dramatic, often to the point where parts of the page aren’t displayed or things like shopping carts don’t work properly.

Web pages must display correctly in all different environments

But it is very important to know how your web pages are being displayed in all these different environments. Otherwise some of your visitors could be getting a very poor experience and you’ll never know.

In this Task we’re going to use a free online tool to make copies of what the page look like when viewed through all the different web browsers. This sounds quite difficult, but actually is quite simple and only takes a few minutes.

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Browsershots is a great tool to help with this

Luckily there is a free online tool to help with this called Browsershots.org. It offers a very simple interface for you to enter your website and then choose the browser/operating system combination you want to test (don’t tick them all at once as it may then take a long time to appear).

It takes quite a few minutes for the test to run and if the results are taking a long time to appear you may need to extend the time.

Time to take a closer look

What Browsershots does is to act like a user with a particular browser/operating system combination and then take a screen-shot of what it looks like.

Once the screen-shots have appeared, it is then time to take a closer look at the pictures for each of the different browser combinations and see how close they are to what you normally see and how the site is designed to appear.

Your web site designer will need to fix any issues

If there are major differences you’re going to need to do something about it. Take the results along to your website designer, so he or she can fix the issues.

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