(an answer to "which browser to design for?")
Trick question. Answer: design for your audience and, to insure widest accessibility, make the code HTML3.2 (or HTML4.0) compliant.
This answer is not intuitively obvious when taking a Sunday stroll around the Web. Visiting too many web sites reminds me of early desktop publishing -- when just because it was possible to put 14 typefaces on a page -- some folks did. (Yes, I was around back then. I have the dubious honor of having used Pagemaker since the beginning ... as I made the transition from x-acto knives, wax and T-squares to digital layout and imaging.)
The Web does promise multi-media -- sound, words, pictures, interactivity. And for those with direct Net access ('big pipe,' TI connection, etc.), the promise can be delivered (sometimes). Average users, however, use a modem to dial up to the Net; huge files often test user patience, even in the age of 56K modems.
Many web designers push the edge of the technology envelope, using frames, animations, shockwave and a host of other plug-ins that may or may not be available for all browsers. Many "bend" HTML, a language that was designed to display information, not to be the Pagemaker of the online world.
The question to ask before adding "extras" or using non-compliant code: Does this technology aid communication or is it the use of technology for technology's sake? Not all designers leap at the chance to load up a page with gizmos. A summary of a discussion of "pet peeves" among women who design web sites may surprise you.
Many sites cut off half (or more) of their potential visitors -- early Netscape, old AOL, Lynx, braille-or-speech output. For a government site this is more than a shame -- it's cutting off access for a large portion of the citizenry who access the Net via public libraries, universities and other text-only vehicles. Some say this is an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) violation. Why wait for a court injunction when designing for accessibility is so straightforward?
If Accessibility Is Your Goal
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