Browsers are different but so what?
Adam Silver

TL;DR: The web of today doesn’t suck directly as a result of the fact that designers and developers didn’t settle for “The web is its own thing. It has its own ways” … that was the logic of the print world and I’m glad we are working to change still.

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I like the sentiment but you miss the real issue to make a somewhat spurious point that seems a bit like disinformation for your own convenience, as many developing web based interactive projects do…

This reaction is based on a belief system — the belief that the browser should behave a certain way. In this case like print.

As someone that has been involved in both print and web design and development projects for many years I can assure that you are way off the mark when you say that the issue is “belief” based.

The real issue is that browser vendors for many years have produced idiosyncrasies that break any efficient model of implementation thereby increasing effort and project complexity exponentially…

I think if you assume that things like security, reliability and consistent user experience are unimportant then you can safely write this article in the very narrow space you have but it would be better titled, “Not every experience needs to be consistent on the web”, or possibly, “Users anticipate the way their browser of choice do what they do”

However, simply look at the difficulty of trying to develop a resource that needs to offer the same interface and UX across any device and your “belief” that these discrepancies are irrelevant start to become a liability.

Should I implement the Flex-box model even though some very important aspects are entirely broken in IE9, a browser my project demands? Or are you suggesting I develop and maintain different UI designs and code bases for IE9, IE10+ and other moderns browsers?

The answer to both the above is, No.

You use the ‘display:table’ method and get most of the flexibility of flex-box without the liability. You do that because then you can use a single UI code base for all browsers and port them to apps to run natively on devices. And you don’t have to worry about maintenance complexity.

That’s an equally narrow example but the truth is, for awhile there, each browser was like a different universe filled with entirely idiosyncratic physical laws…

In one browser your table set nicely on the ground while in another browser a single invisible white space character hidden away somewhere at the end of a line after #125 but before line # 1255 next to a closed HTML tag saw it blown to illegibility… and who had to figure it out?

Was there a browser based index of bugs you could reference? Nope.

Was there a guideline for how you should build for each browser’s idiosyncrasies? Nope.

Were browsers out there fixing bugs every chance they got? Nope.

HTML5, CSS3, Paul Irish, Addy Osmani, John Resig and a thousand other people and tech are web heroes for a reason; They helped us codify the fixes for the broken web and create standards that make it possible for you to say “not everything has to be consistent” because things these days mostly work.

On another note…

Perhaps in some projects consistency is less important. However in answer to your question:

Is this a problem?

Well, yes, it is a problem because it is poor UX to put a broken link into your project or to deliver an experience inconsistent with one the user believes they are initiating…

Was I downloading something for my records or something that I need to reference right now?

Where is this link? Is it the receipt for my purchase?

Well then you better make sure that it’s there or if it isn’t then I need to know why stat because you have about .25 seconds before I have lost all faith in your client’s business.

Not to mention that to say very broadly that users don’t care would be inconsistent with reality of interaction design and the point that has brought us to develop HTML5, CSS3, ES2016 and all of the future browser technology that will give us a more reliable and secure web which is..

Users care, and they care increasingly as the results they get become more divergent from their expectations of what they wanted.

Does everything need to look the same? sometimes No. Work the same? sometime No.

Was the reason for the fuss that produced the web and browsers of 2016 based on a belief that the web should be like print… nope.

It’s the exact opposite, so when you say:

The web is its own thing. It has its own ways.

You are incorrect, the web has only the ways we work to give it, it is a designed thing and has been shaped by the demands of the people that use it and the designers that build for it’s use.

And if you are relying on the browser to tell your users that the file you linked to is missing, you might be doing it wrong.

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