Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why does my website look different on my Mums computer?

Mum may have an older computer than you or she may have a state of the art modern computer with all kinds of fancy bells and whistles. Either way chances are your website will look different when you view it on her computer.

Heres some background on why. . . .

Did you know that you can set-up your browser to display things the way you prefer them to be displayed?
At times it may not seem so, but you have control, you are in charge and you can set how you experience the internet - you, the end user or website visitor - control your own experience of the internet. Even if you adhere to the defaults set-up when your computer was delivered there will be enormous variation in

  • How your monitor renders text
  • How your monitor renders colour

You can also choose to:

  • Set minimum font sizes so all the text on websites displays bigger
  • Use an older browser like IE6 or IE5.5 both of which veer widely away from the world wide web standards in the way they render pages
  • Use a Mac or a PCAdjust your monitor colours to suit yourself
  • Turn off images and navigate/use a website in text only mode

The resolution settings of your monitor can also affect the display. Common settings are 800, 1024 or 1280 pixels wide, but there are many other options and your site may end up scrunched together or spread out, depending on Mums setting.

But the Font's different and I want it the same - can't you FIX it!
Different computers use different fonts and sets of fonts. Macintoshes have different fonts to PCs'. Some fonts are universal most are not. For example many people use Verdana , thinking it universal, most PCs' come with Verdana but older Macintosh computers did not!

What we do
We set fonts up in families or groups so if the first font in the family is not available on your visitors computer then the browser will look for the next one in line. i.e. a common font style for us to set up is: font-family: verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif - here we are telling the browser or computer to use Verdana if its available, otherwise try Helvetica and then Arial finally if none of the others are available just display the text in any sans-serif font.

We use standard fonts like Verdana or Arial whenever possible to ensure we get the most consistent result for your website.

If your Mum has a stoneage PC she may not have Verdana and no Helvetica ... your website may start to look quite different. For websites where this is important we can make special allowances for the huge variety in monitors/computers etc.

What about the difference in colour?
A tiny minority of older computers can only display 256 different colours - if Mum has an old computer that cannot display millions of colours then your website colours will morph to what the browser thinks is a good approximation of your colours and the results are sometimes aweful. More likely the difference is because your Mum has a different monitor (LCD vs CRT) or her monitor settings need adjusting.

Perhaps she is using a Mac, in which case the colours are reproduced slightly differently between a Macintosh and a PC.

What we do
Where possible we choose from the 216-colour web-safe palette for our colours Use white or black for the main content areaAccept that a minority of people may get a compromised experience of the site design

What else do we do?
We make the text on your website resizable so maybe Mum has taken advantage of this and has made the text bigger on your website - so she can read it!
Mum may be smarter than you (I know mine is!) and have changed her settings - theres a setting on her browser (and yours) that makes all the text on websites bigger. This makes her life easier but your website looks different.

So while your website may look different on different computers - we design to look great on them all.

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