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Yahoo! on browser support

The Yahoo! Developers Network has a great article up describing their browser support philoposhy.

Their approach of mirrors the process that we've been developing here at work for our upcoming redesign. Over the next few months, I'm essentially re-writing all the XHTML and CSS for our site's publishing system. I'll spare you the details of what that entails for now, but will say a bit about browser support. While our thinking is still evolving, there are a few important ideas that form the foundation of our work.

The first is to code to standards. We're assuming that over the next year or so, a large number of users will be moving to browsers with a high-degree of standards compliance. In practice, what we are waiting for is IE6 users to move to IE7. I'm confident that users will abandon IE6 as quickly and completely as they abandonned IE5.

In the meantime, however, we still have to handle non-standard implementations, from IE6 as well as glitches in other significant browsers. Browser support will be handled through our dynamic templating system, proving a user interface tailored to the capabilities of the browser. (I recently lamented that this functionality wasn't part of every web server). Over time, we expect the work we will have to do to support non-compliant browsers will decrease over time.

Although I have just started coding, I can already tell you that coding to standards is much easier then coding to a non-standard implementation (like IE6, for example). its not just the right thing to do, but it is more efficient and a better investment of development resources.

Another important aspect of our approach is to invest time designing and implementing our XHTML. The XHTML page should be able to stand on its own sans CSS or JavaScript. This will improve the accessibility of our pages over a wide range of devices and user agents. I would guess that while most web developers appreciate the separation of content and presentation that CSS provides, they do not fully appreciate the power of this approach. It is still possible to produce 100% valid XHTML that is unusable without the specific CSS presentation it was desgined for.

If you have an opportunity, like to I, to start from scratch, you owe it to yourself to do things the right way. A little bit of thinking up front will pay back huge dividends later on in improved accessibility, usability, and flexibility of your site.