Perhaps the most striking evidence that cross-browser/device compatibility is not yet on everyone's radar screen, is that some major websites 'break' for important sections of their audience.
To be broken only for a few days and be corrected is not the end of the world. Others stay broken for months. It is amusing to consider why this should be so. It may be that the website owners are unaware and no one tells them. Suppose you are a prospect and are searching for a supplier. You have a number of potential suppliers. Most of them have effective websites and one doesn't, as viewed through your browser/device combination. Does this raise a question mark about their competence? Do you nevertheless switch to another browser to be able to see what they're offering? Do you let them know of your less-than-satisfactory experience? Life is too short. Why contact them with bad news? So they stay unaware of the poor impression they're creating.
In other cases, perhaps the website owner does get feedback. It could be that it's tough to fix the problem. Perhaps that slice of the audience is only 10% or 15% of the audience. So you politely thank the feedback giver and leave the website unchanged. In effect you may be ignoring a potential 20% upside on your sales. Would any thinking CEO accept such a relaxed reaction?
It's fun to muse. At the very least, major websites that 'break' can be amusing illustrations to those who realize that cross-browser/device compatibility is something to be concerned about. Below you will find two noteworthy examples of websites that 'break' for important slices of their audience.
One long-standing example is a Microsoft Business Portal for the "Great Plains" Business Software. In most browsers other than Internet Explorer, the demo appears in a small window that is impossible to view. Microsoft purchased Great Plains in 2000 for over $1 billion. This would seem to be a surprising oversight.
Another astonishing example is the Google Reader site, which came online in August 2005. This works satisfactorily in Internet Explorer and Opera but breaks in Firefox. Since this service is still in Beta, people with problems are encouraged to discuss these in the Google Groups Reader group. The problem was raised there in October 2005, but remains unfixed. Given Google's support of Firefox, this seems a surprising oversight.
Edited by bwelford, 08 March 2006 - 09:19 AM.