I’ve put up a different version of this post up at The Blog Herald, but knowing that Darren is a Mac user I wanted to share a slightly different version on the theme here at Problogger: professional bloggers are ignoring compatibility issues.
I know from experience that many of the better bloggers in this world are Mac users, and I do honestly envy you. If I had a couple of thousand spare dollars sitting in my account to buy a new computer I’d most likely go with a Mac. The unfortunate reality is, that whilst Weblog Empire is going well, it’s not producing similar figures yet to Darren’s Mac powered network. Mac’s cost more, and while I can still build a new PC from parts for around $500 AUD (a decent one at that) I’m not changing yet. I also know that the chances are that the majority of you reading this use a PC running Windows as I do. Whether Macs are better or not is irrelevant, as Probloggers we specialise in content delivery, not whether one OS is better than another.
The cold, hard facts are that there is a strong chance that your blog works great when you read it in Windows, but might not work on other operating systems. In the earlier days of the blogosphere, when I first started with The Blog Herald, this didn’t even figure in my thoughts. I know now that the earlier version of the Blog Herald didn’t work in other browsers and operating systems, and as such I was excluding many potential readers. I was fortunate enough to be able to learn from experience, because when I started The Blog Herald, Technorati didn’t track 1 million blogs yet, Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis were still dot com refugees and blogging for money wasn’t heard of. Today, as Probloggers, you don’t have the same luxury. Mac users might still be in the minority, but they continue to increase in number, and demographically they are more likely to be blog readers.
In terms of operating systems, I’m fortunate because I’ve got an old laptop (I bought it at auction for $10, it was cheap so I had to buy it :-) ) that runs Linux that I can test the Blog Herald and other Weblog Empire sites on, but I don’t have that luxury for Macs. A new site is now available to allow you to do just that: Lixlpixel Safari Screenshot Generator. It’s not always super quick (because it appears that a lot of people are trying it out) but its free and it allows you to see how your blog appears in 3 different Mac browsers: Safari, IE and Mozilla.
There is a commercial service available at Browsercam that gives you a fuller range of OS’s and browsers, but is only open to a 24 hour trial before you have to pay.
As Probloggers if you’re not checking that your blog works on different operating systems and browsers, you are losing business. I don’t have all the answers in terms of coding and the like, but there are a couple of simple rules to use with your blogs
1. Make sure your site uses CSS, not tables
There is a particular blog network that runs on tables and I’m not sure how they get away with it. CSS is the safest way to get close to assuring that your site renders well no matter who is looking at it. Once you get into it, it’s not that hard to learn: I’ve never studied it formally but I’ve made it my business to learn and can now say I’m fairly confident with understand how it works, even if I’m not the best coder of it.
2. Test your site
This is an obvious point, but overlooked. As I’ve detailed here there are sites available now that let you do as much. Include them on your list for any new blog, and for an existing blog, check as well
3. Web standards
Where possible try to stick with web standard in terms of html, php or similar. It’s difficult, and I know that none of the Weblog Empire sites quite meet the criteria yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago. Web standards are your best friend in assuring that as many people as possible can read your blog.
(in part via Threadwatch)