Browser compatibility: An oft-overlooked element of website design

Website design is, at its core, a lot more complicated than the average layman might think. Sure, there’s tons of free resources available that allow virtually anyone to whip up a perfectly functional website in minutes, but for large corporations and other companies looking to make an impact, a more complicated and costly development cycle is required.

One of the more important things to remember – but something that a lot of people likely forget – is the importance of developing your website with web browser compatibility in mind. Like everything else (desktop and mobile operating systems, mobile apps, etc), browsers are updated on a fairly consistent basis. This means that if someone is running a browser that hasn’t been updated in years, they likely won’t be able to get the full experience of your website that was developed in 2018 or 2019.  

“The Big 5”

For the purposes of this, we’re going to focus on the browsers that the majority of internet users are familiar with – these being Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Internet Explorer (yes, believe it or not, there’s still people who use that one!).

Of course, there are more web browsers out there, but it’s these 5 that dominate the landscape, with 64%, 14%, 5%, 4%, and 8% of users using each one respectively. Let’s take a look at each browser’s recent update history to get an understanding of what you should take into consideration when developing your website.


By far the most popular web browser in the world, Chrome (developed by Google) continues to receive regularly updates on all platforms, with versions for Windows, Mac, and iOS receiving the most recent update in December of last year, and Android OS receiving an update yesterday, February 6. Consistent updates and a user-friendly interface put this browser at the top of the pack.


While it may not be updated as regularly as Chrome, Firefox is certainly no slouch in this department, with all versions receiving the latest update in early January 2019. In total, it received 3 updates throughout 2018, and it remains a favourite of users everywhere…while still being miles behind Chrome.


Things begin to get a big more complicated with Apple’s Safari browser. For starters, Safari is simply no longer available on Windows machines, as Apple ceased all updates and releases in May of 2012. It gets even a bit more muddied when you consider that the version of Safari available on iOS devices hasn’t been updated since May of 2011, while the version for Mac receives one update every year, usually in September (coinciding with Apple’s annual keynote events). And, of course, it’s not available at all on Android devices. Safari, as a browser, used to be a lot more revered, but its inconsistent and baffling update history has definitely hurt its standing.


Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer is available on all major platforms with the exception of the Mac (however, this looks like it’s about to change), and it continues to receive semi-regular updates, with the most recent one being released in November of 2018. It’s not a very well-received or respected browser, but it’s still worlds better than…

Internet Explorer

Ah, the infamous IE. This is the browser that many of us got our feet wet in when it came to using the internet, and even though Microsoft pulling the plug on it after it received its last update in October of 2013 was a cause for celebration, it still had a certain nostalgia factor to it. Nowadays, it still is in use, primarily by the elderly and from those who simply don’t know any better. But Microsoft no longer supports it, and for all intents and purposes, it’s a completely dead browser.

2 Responses

  • I don’t really appreciate your comments about Internet Explorer…I still use it, and I think it’s a wonderful browser

    • Sorry man, I think you’re crazy – IE has been dead for years, and useless for even longer than that. It’s time to make a change to a real browser, like Chrome!

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