For a while now, here on Smashing Magazine, we have taken notice of how many designers are reluctant to embrace the new technologies such as CSS3 or HTML5 because of the lack of full cross-browser support for these technologies. Many designers are complaining about the numerous ways how the lack of cross-browser compatibility is effectively holding us back and tying our hands – keeping us from completely being able to shine and show off the full scope of our abilities in our work. Many are holding on to the notion that once this push is made, we will wake to a whole new Web – full of exciting opportunities just waiting on the other side. So they wait for this day. When in reality, they are effectively waiting for Godot.
Just like the elusive character from Beckett’s classic play, this day of full cross-browser support is not ever truly going to find its dawn and deliver us this wonderful new Web where our work looks the same within the window of any and every Web browser. Which means that many of us in the online reaches, from clients to designers to developers and on, are going to need to adjust our thinking so that we can realistically approach the Web as it is now, and more than likely how it will be in the future.
Sometimes it feels that we are hiding behind the lack of cross-browser compatibility to avoid learning new techniques that would actually dramatically improve our workflow. And that’s just wrong. Without an adjustment, we will continue to undersell the Web we have, and the landscape will remain unexcitingly stale and bound by this underestimation and mindset.
Adjustment in Progress
and some will not have certain plugins installed.
There are so many remarkable things that we, designers and developers, can do today: be it responsive designs with CSS3 media queries, rich Web typography (with full support today!) or HTML5 video and audio. And there are so many useful tools and resources that we can use right away to incorporate new technologies in our designs while still supporting older browsers. There is just no reason not to use them.
We are the ones who can push the cross-browser support of these new technologies, encouraging and demanding the new features in future browsers. We have this power, and passing on it just because we don’t feel like there is no full support of them yet, should not be an option. We need to realize that we are the ones putting the wheels in motion and it’s up to us to decide what will be supported in the future browsers and what will not.
More exciting things will be coming in the future. We should design for the future and we should design for today – making sure that our progressive designs work well in modern browsers and work fine in older browsers. The crucial mistake would be clinging to the past, trying to work with the old nasty hacks and workarounds that will become obsolete very soon.
We can continue to cling to this notion and wait for older browsers to become outdated, thereby selling ourselves and our potential short, or we can adjust our way of thinking about this and come at the Web from a whole new perspective. One where we understand the truth of the situation we are faced with.