iWeb FAQ - Browser compatibility issues



In some browsers my iWeb website looks awful and some things are not displayed properly or they’re not displayed at all. Why? iWeb and Internet Explorer compatibility?

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Please note that I will not answer questions related to a website not displaying correctly in a browser other than Safari! I got tired of these questions a long time ago... Sorry... This FAQ should already answer all your questions...

This is one of the most discussed topics in the Apple iWeb Discussion Forums. Also a lot of people tell me they are having problems with their websites depending on the browser they’re visiting the website with. Here’s a list of the most common issues:

The navigation menu doesn’t show up, pictures/photos/images don’t show up, the pages is all messed up, reflections aren’t displayed, shadows aren’t rendered, the font doesn’t look like it does in iWeb, photo galleries don’t work, PC users don’t see my movies and can’t play the audio on my website ... did I miss any? Oh yeah, my favorite: “Internet Explorer crashes when visiting my iWeb created website” (no joke! sometimes real-life is funnier than any joke could ever be, of course only to people like me who don’t mind about whether people can see the website in IE or not).

Most of the problems with iWeb sites are linked to a particular browser: Internet Explorer (IE)  made by Microsoft. However also other browsers are having troubles with iWeb sites and the phenomenon is not limited to iWeb websites. The same applies to non-iWeb-created websites as well...

Chapter 1: Why is it happening?

Chapter 2: What can be done to keep it from happening? Is there any solution?

Chapter 3: Possible reasons and solutions for particular problems

Chapter 1: Why is it happening?

I speak Italian, German, English and French (from best to less-good).

My grandmother speaks German and French.

When we talk German we have no problems at all. Her French is better than mine so I may not understand some of the words she’s using but I get the message anyway. If I’d talk to her in English she wouldn’t understand anything.

Let me guess what you’re thinking by now: “So what? Who cares?”. Thing is that the web is similar.

Websites are made out of different kind of codes which are also referred to as languages (HTML, Javascript, PHP, ...). Web browsers (such as Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, ...) have to read the code, interpretate it and render it for you to see a beautifully readable page instead of the codes.

Different browsers interpretate the codes in different ways, hence render it in different ways and finally the websites look different to you when seen on different browsers.

There are people comparing various browsers to each other and the jobs they do on different code languages. Some do a better job on some codes, others do a better job on other codes. Here two links to pages which show you the results of such Browser Performance Comparison tests:



They usually measure the time a browser takes to complete a certain task. The faster a browser completes a task the better it is. Not just because you have to wait less for a page to load but also because it means that the browser understands the code, hence renders the page the way it should. You may find more tests  by Googling and maybe you will also find more up-to-date tests. With every new version of a Browser the performance could change. Anyway looking at the results posted above (which are unbiased) you should have seen that Internet Explorer is almost always last or at least among the last. Which explains why websites render so badly on it. Especially IE’s performance in Javascript is very poor and iWeb websites are full of it (menu, shadows, blog and photos pages they all make a great use of it).

Part of the problem is due to the engine the browsers are using to render web pages.

Safari (Apple Inc.) uses WebKit which is an Open Source Project which means that a lot of people and various corporations are contributing, working on it and developing it. As an example WebKit is also used by Chrome (Google’s browser).

Firefox (Mozilla corp.) is using Gecko which is developed by Mozilla themselves.

InternetExplorer is using Trident (also known as MSHTML) which is developed by Microsoft themselves and it looks like it’s the worst since they are not following the standards of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) who are working to get a standardized web and make online-life easier. Microsoft isn’t developing Trident the way they should to keep it up-to-date with the rest of the World-Wide-Web (maybe for financial reasons). Looks like they’re at least thinking about changing to use WebKit as well. It would solve quite some problems for sure.

You now should see why Internet Explorer is causing many troubles and is often referred to as being the worst browser out there. Note that a small part of the problems is also due to the version of Internet Explorer people are using and the version of the Windows they are using. In fact some people say that on certain versions there are no problems at all (don’t ask me which ‘cause I don’t know).

Chapter 2: What can be done to keep it from happening? Is there any solution?

The answer is no. There is no real solution for that.

Talking about Internet Explorer the best solution would be to not-use Internet Explorer (for the reasons mentioned in the previous chapter).

You could have links on your website to download Safari, Firefox, Chrome (all of them are Mac and Windows compatible and usually do a better job in rendering your website).

Even if there is no real solution for the problem here are a few tips which are commonly said to help:

- Don’t use templates which are made out of many graphic-elements

- Don’t use too many graphical elements in general (pictures, shadows and reflections). Keep it basic and light in size (Megabytes).

People also claim that optimizing your website helps. For more info on that visit my Faster loading websites FAQ. The applications mentioned on that FAQ (like WebCrusher) reduce the file sizes of the graphical elements on your website (which also makes the website faster to load) and clean up the code generated by iWeb. Indeed iWeb’s code is said to be quite dirty which could also be part of the problem.

Chapter 3: Possible reasons and solutions for particular problems

Here you will find possible-solutions and explanations about specific problems.

3.1 The navigation menu, photo galleries, blogs, shadows and the reflections don’t display on a Windows PC (Internet Explorer)

The problem is that the iWeb navigation menu is Javascript rendering (and so are . Some Windows users have Javascript deactivated due to security reasons (auto-downloading viruses, ...) hence don’t see the navigation menu (and Galleries and Blogs).

On Galleries and Blogs you could write something like “Make sure you have Javascript enabled in your browser”.

As for the menu I would recommend you to add a second navigation bar at the bottom of your pages (add a TextBox, write the name of your pages, turn the names into links to the pages, copy the TextBox and paste it to all your pages). This also helps you to get your pages on Google as I wrote in my Google FAQ.

Since Javascript is heavily used on the web 90% of the people will have Javascript enabled.

3.2 The fonts look totally different when looking at the website from a PC than they look on my Mac

First you should make sure you’re using only Web safe fonts for your website. In iWeb go to Fonts, under “Collection” choose “Web” and you will find a list of web safe fonts. Web safe fonts are fonts that are present on PCs and Macs and look similar on the two computers.

Note that even if a font is available on both computers it doesn’t look the alike. Fonts look much better on Apple computers than on PCs in general. Even if a font is called “Arial” or “Times” on both it’s not the same graphically. It is only similar.

3.3 PCs can’t play my videos and audio files

iWeb per default uses QuickTime to embed audio and video. Not all PCs have QuickTime installed. Hence those people without QuickTime installed will not be able to play the media content.

Thanks to the iPod and the iPhone more and more people have iTunes and with it also QuickTime installed on their PCs. Otherwise I would recommend you to use Flash for your media content (see the FAQs about Music and about Movies and Flash content for more info).

This FAQ is also discussed in my iWebFAQ.org E-Book (sample)

iWebFAQ.org - Tutorials, Tips & Tricks is made with iWeb and for iWeb.

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