I have written this document to help reduce the amount of issues we have recently come across. It is important to address issues like load time, cross browser compatibility, and other technical design issues.
The following Best Practices have been developed in order for us to maintain our reputation for producing quality web sites, and reduce technical problems. Please follow them and contact me if you have any questions.
You can no longer assume that every web visitor is using the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer. In fact, you can't even assume that someone is using IE at all. Consider all of the various versions of browsers in use, and the fact that more and more people are turning to Firefox as well as MAC operating systems. The need to design for cross-browser compatibility has never been greater. Here are the basic cross compatibility rules that must be followed:
* Avoid using browser-specific tags.
* Check your design with the latest versions of all major browsers as well as one or two previous versions.
* Use Style Sheets, XML preferred, in order to assure a more compatible design across multiple browsers.
* View the site design with images turned "off" so you can see how your site will appear to people who use text-based browsers and automated screen readers like those used by the visually impaired.
* Take advantage of the 'ALT Text' tag so visitors who choose to surf with graphics off, or cannot see graphics for any other reason, know what each image is supposed to represent.
* Design Element Considerations
In addition to the general guidelines discussed in the previous section, it is important that special attention be paid to each of these essential design elements:
* Special Encoding Requirements
There are a number of special characters that cannot be used in a linked URL without being specially encoded in HEX characters. Although some browsers will automatically compensate for improperly coded characters, many will not.
A good rule of thumb is to encode any character that is not alphanumeric. The following characters MUST be encoded:
$-_.+!*'() plus any spaces.