Which Browsers To Support When Creating a Website

If you've ever had to write a spec for a website or simply create a website for that matter, you've probably had to agree with the customer on which browsers will be supported. This can sometimes be noting short of a back-n-forth bartering process:

Ok, I'll do IE5 on Macs, but there's no way you're getting Opera 8 support!

Ok, so I've never said anything like that before, but you get the point — there's no real way of knowing exactly which to offer support for and which browsers to avoid. I've always found it's down to the open-minded/forward-thinkingness of the client.

Well, there is a better way. Yahoo! produce the Graded Browser Support (GBS) list and update it every quarter. This chart groups browsers in to different grades — A, C or X. A grade browsers receive full testing and support, C grade get some testing and X grade are all but ignored. Here's the A-grade support table as it stands now:

The changes are listed here. Notice IE5.5 and Firefox 1.0 for Windows no longer have A-grade support. Imagine how nice that would be if you'd already agreed with the customer to use this chart and to adopt any changes to it. You get the chance to move forward unhindered.

Next time you're deciding on what browsers to support I'd suggest using GBS. You can even go further and redefine how you'll offer support, like so:

Target Browser (A Grade):
Appears and behaves exactly as it was as intended to.
Supported Browser (C Grade):
Some functionality missing and some design discrepancy
Unsupported Browser (X Grade):
Content and limited functionality must work. Design must degrade nicely.

I've used this approach in the past and it's worked well.


  1. This is really useful, thanks. re Netscape/Firefox: isn't it amazing how little time it takes for a product to just disappear off the IT cool-list, and how incredibly fast a newcomer can just become #1?

    • avatar
    • Simon
    • Wed 29 Nov 2006 09:39 AM

    Yes, interesting guide. It would be good to see all three tables, or did I miss something? Some of this I assume depends on the usual things like target audience, public Vs intranet etc.

    @Adeleida, could it have something to do with adoption rates and installed user-base? I could imagine that most of the Firefox users were updating quickly to the new releases. Just a guess, but IE7 is likely to spread pretty quickly due to it being distributed via windows update. Its a shame the OS's listed are only windows and Mac (no linux), but probably also for the reasons mentioned.

    Just my 2p!

    • avatar
    • Ferdy
    • Wed 29 Nov 2006 01:41 PM

    As a somewhat related tip: I use {Link} to test sites in browsers that I have not installed. You will be amazed, there is almost a hundred browser/OS combinations one must test if you would go for a 100% compliance. Imagine the test lab you'd need for that.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Wed 29 Nov 2006 03:22 PM

    Can't see the C or X grade chart either. Odd.

    Ferdy. I've talked about testing with browser cams before. Personally, I don't see this as testing. It's a good way to get an idea how well your CSS works in other browser, but that's not testing anything other than the CSS.

  2. @ Ferdy

    1 box, 400 GB HD, lots of VMware. :-)


    But, I like the elegance of your solution. The only detraction is the legal / confidentiality issues that might arise from running your apps through a third party online service. Having an inhouse lab Host machine would cover you there.

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Written by Jake Howlett on Wed 29 Nov 2006

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