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CSS & Browser s

Not all web browsers are created equal nor are any standards compliant. HTML & CSS standards are set by the W3C Organization. The good news is that browsers are getting less proprietary and are better supporting web standards. The bad news is, not all of your visitors will have the latest or most compliant browsers. The W3C has some of the best statistics available on browser usage. As of July 2001 the breakdown is as follows

Browser Statistics

Browser Version Jan 02 Apr 02 Jul 02 Oct 02 Jan 03
Internet Explorer 6.x 23% 32% 39% 45% 52%
Internet Explorer 5.x 64% 55% 51% 46% 39%
Internet Explorer 4.x 4% 3% 2% 2% 1%
Netscape 4.x 4% 4% 3% 2% 1%
Other Netscape compatible 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%


Browsers that count for less than 0.5% are not listed.

Source :

If I look at my own server logs I see:

Browser %
Microsoft Internet Explorer 60.85%
Netscape 9.38%
Other Netscape Compatible 2.47%

Internet Explorer Breakdown

Netscape Breakdown

Explorer 5.x 91.60% Netscape 4.x 93.91%
Explorer 4.x 4.84% Netscape 5.x 5.07%
Explorer 6.x 3.17% Netscape 3.x 1.01%

*note- the totals do not add up to 100% due to spiders, ftp clients, etc.

This means that you can't ignore Netscape users unless you are willing to lose 10% of your visitors. Fortunately there are many resources available to help you make a page that looks good in Netscape as well as in Internet Explorer. One area where browser support differs markedly is in the area of CSS support, another is in how margins are handled.

For a simple illustration of how CSS differs in the two major browsers differ I created a simple rollover navigation using nothing but CSS and either absolute positioning or tables. In both browsers the colors for links, active and visited display as intended however in Netscape 4.x the hover effect does not work though Netscape 6.01 displays it correctly.

Another difference is in how to remove browser margins. Internet Explorer and Netscape 6 use standard margin-top: 0px; margin-left: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-right: 0px while Netscape 4.x requires marginheight=0 and marginwidth=0 in the body tag.

For a more complete reference on what each browser supports Web Review has a complete table available at

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