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A conversation

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Previously I ranted a little about how some web experts complain when we give opposing opinions about new CSS advances and how it’s not so easy to convince clients to our way of thinking. Although I’m not pushing websites with the latest advances I have started to adopt a few touches such as border radius and box shadow.

Luckily I’ve yet to have client remark on why their website doesn’t match up in all browsers but I have thought how such a conversation might go. And also how I might convince them to use the techniques with a better argument than simply ‘websites don’t have to look the same in every browser’.

Client : Hi Kean, its Mr Client

Me : Hi Mr Client. How are you?

Client : Good thanks. The websites looking great, well done, but I have a few questions and a few things I think could be tweaked, if that’s okay?

Me : Sure, let’s see if I can help you out. What’s the problem?

Client : Well there’s a few thing’s but the first thing I noticed is that our site doesn’t have any rounded corners that the original design has. Is there something wrong?

Me : Can I ask what browser you’re using?

Client : I’m using Internet Explorer 7.

Me : Okay. There’s nothing wrong with the website. The truth of the matter is that the rounded corner’s will only appear on modern browsers, unfortunately they don’t show up in Internet Explorer.

Client : Oh.

Me : Without getting too technical the code we use to create the rounded corners is kinda new and some browsers like Internet Explorer are a little behind in supporting these new features.

Client : But isn’t Internet Explorer used by the majority of users? They won’t see the rounded corners.

Me : Yes most of your users will use Internet Explorer, and these people won’t see the rounded corners. But this isn’t something to worry about. The problem is there are a lot of different browsers different browsers use and while we make sure sites work in all of the main ones it’s near impossible to get them looking the same in every browser. To do so is a difficult, time consuming and expensive process.

Client : Okay.

Me : Rather than spend all that time getting a site perfect in every browser we allow a margin for error depending on which browser it is. So for IE6 we’ll usually make sure all the functionality works so the user can do everything we need them to on the site but don’t worry so much if the design is a little out of place. Then we add any extra flourishes into the website for the browsers that can interpret them. In the case of your design this includes the rounded corners.

Client : So does the site break in older browsers?

Me : If someone has a really old browser like Netscape 4 it probably will, but it’s incredibly unlikely your site will be viewed using this browser. For anything like IE6 or newer the site will not be broken, everything will work exactly as a user would expect it’s just the design and layout may be a bit more simplified from some browsers than the original design we presented.

Client : Okay, I think I understand what you’re saying but how come I can visit other websites and see those using rounded corners?

Me : It’s likely they use images to create the rounded corners.

Client : Can we not do the same, it’s just I really think the site looks better with them and it seems a shame some users might never see them.

Me : To those users that won’t see the rounded corners they won’t actually miss anything as they will never have known that there should have been rounded corners there as they haven’t seen the original design like we have and many users won’t view the website in multiple browsers to notice the inconsistencies.

Client : But they do look nice.

Me : They do but the sites kind of full of them and to use images for all of them is a lot of work and causes a number of other issues.

Client : What issues?

Me : Well there’s a few. Depending on how we integrate the rounded corners it could make it difficult to maintain the site. Then there’s the images themselves which could slow down the sites for users as it takes longer to load the pages of the website. This can have a knock on effect to your Google ranking as the added code needed can make it more difficult to spider and the added page weight is now a factor in search rankings.

Client : Oh.

Me : I’m sorry if that sounded complicated. We’re just using the most lightweight solution knowing that the user’s experience of the site isn’t damaged by not actually seeing the rounded corners.

Client : Okay. It’s a shame but I sort of understand why it’s best to do it this way.

Me : Truthfully if we didn’t have this feature available to us then the design simply wouldn’t have contained so many rounded corners due to the work involved using alternative solutions. What we’re trying to do instead is ensure that people get the best experience for the browser they have.

Client : I understand now. Let’s keep it how it is and hope people upgrade their browsers…. Actually should we include a notice telling them to upgrade?

Me : Nope, it’s a little intrusive and most users that use older browsers tend to have a valid reason for doing so.

Client : Okay. On to the next thing; I think the logo could do with being a tad bigger….