Viewable With ANY Browser

Note: My Web pages are best viewed with style sheets enabled.

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My Web Page Design Criteria

Copyright © 2003-2005, 2007-2010, 2017 by David E. Ross

De gustibus non est disputandum.

Hand-composed with Wordpad My pages have been hand-coded according to HTML 4.01 (using no Web page tool) and should be viewable with any Web browser that supports that HTML version. In accord with the Viewable With Any Browser Campaign, my pages follow these guidelines:

Overall, I have tried to make my Web pages adaptable to the environment where they are viewed — to how you have configured your own computer — without requiring you to adapt to the constraints of my pages.

Remember: The above applies only to those pages of mine that are marked Viewable With ANY Browser. If you encounter a Web page of mine that is not thus marked, please let me know.

Also, just because a marked page should indeed be viewable with any browser does not mean it will always appear as I intended. That is a function of the browser you use, the platform on which it is executing, and how you have tailored your user settings and options.

Not all browsers support style sheets or all of the HTML 4.01 features (e.g., tables, images). I have tried to format my pages so that they can still be viewed without style sheets or images. Where I use tables, however, tabular presentations are indeed intended; I don't know how my pages with tables appear in a browser without the capability to display them.


Other Design Criteria

Jakob Nielsen is a principal in a consulting firm that specializes in training Webmasters, testing Web sites, and performing usability studies on Web-based services. Nielsen's Web Style can be quite useful to those interested in Web design for broad audiences.

Every so often, Nielsen publishes a list of "Top Ten Web Design Mistakes". Here, I analyze my own Web site in terms of Nielsen's list for 2007.

  1. Bad Search

    This refers to search engines that operate on a specific Web site. I use FreeFind, an outside search engine capability. FreeFind controls how my site is crawled and indexed.

    I disagree with Nielsen's assertion that the search interface should be on my home page. Different search engines use different queries. Too often, when I search on someone else's Web site, I have to guess at how to create a query. For my own Web site, the search page has some simple guidelines for searching, along with a link to more detailed information on how to create a FreeFind query. All this is just too specialized for a home page.

  2. PDF Files for Online Reading

    I use PDF only when working from hard-copy, which I scan into a PDF file. Against over 300 HTML files (Web pages), I have only two PDF files on my Web site.

  3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links

    I don't set the color of links. I leave them at the default colors set by the users.

  4. Non-Scannable Text

    Here, Nielsen is referring to how humans scan text with their eyes, not to electronic scanning. He advocates the use of heads and subheads, bulleted lists (as seen above in this page), and other writing techniques. However, he also advocates short paragraphs and a simple style of writing; for my response to that, see Content That's Not Written for the Web (below).

  5. Fixed Font Size

    I don't do this. I use only relative sizing of fonts, leaving the main content of each page at the user's default size. (See also Legibility Problems below.)

  6. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility

    This is primarily a concern for commercial pages. However, I too want search engines to find my pages. Occasionally, I use Metacrawler to search for the topics covered by my pages, to review both the page titles and page descriptions. I also review the search reports produced by the FreeFind search engine used by this Web site. (See also Bad Search above.)

  7. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement

    I carry no advertisements in this Web site. I hope none of my pages look like advertisements.

  8. Violating Design Conventions

    This is the point of the "Viewable With Any Browser Campaign". While previously assuming that Internet Explorer was the only browser to consider, Nielsen now recognizes that well-run businesses " … don't turn away customers just because they prefer a different platform." After all, over half of those who surf the Web use browsers that are not Internet Explorer.

    However, Nielsen also includes creating a consistency both within a Web site and with other Web sites. My pages are indeed consistent with each other, a result of using templates that are based on a single general template. Consistency with other Web sites is nearly impossible since other Web sites are rarely consistent with each other. I am not consistent with other sites in the way I present links. I am also not consistent with Web pages that violate the design criteria presented on this page.

  9. Opening New Browser Windows

    See New Windows (above).

  10. Not Answering Users' Questions

    Actually, I have been accused of over-answering, giving far more details than anyone really wants.

Prior versions of Nielsen's "Top Ten Web Design Mistakes" included the following:

Others have also addressed user-oriented design of Web pages. Among them are the following:

14 December 2004
Updated 12 July 2017


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