In my article - "The importance of sound website design & search spiders to Internet Marketers," I mentioned the importance of a designer being cognizant of the fact that web browser standards are not yet fully harmonized - a web page that looks great in Internet Explorer (6) might look hideous in a Mozilla based browser like FireFox or Netscape.
I also noted that with the explosion of devices with which to serve Internet applications, compliance with W3C standards has become critical.
When the final release for IE 7 for Windows XP, Server 2003 & Vista is launched, hopefully before the end of 2006, the tables will be turned, so to speak.
In IE 7 Microsoft has made a solemn effort to fix the browsers acquiescence to W3C standards and CSS(Cascading Style Sheets) compatibility. CSS interpretation as recommended by W3C has been improved tremendously giving designers and developers more leverage in functionality for cross-browser design.
Microsoft asserts that they are taking W3C compatibility issues seriously.
Therefore, if you have been designing your pages and have not bothered to check how they render in W3C Standards Compliant browsers like FireFox, you may be in for a rude shock when IE 7 finally rolls out.
If you have not been incorporating W3C Web standards in your design strategy you may need to re-design for IE 7.
How should you go about it?
Design for "strict" browsers like FireFox first. Not only is FireFox a more standards-compliant browser but it is also the primary competitor to Internet Explorer. A contender backed by Google's marketing machine -- and therefore, is not likely do "a Netscape" on designers.
Prior and up to IE 4.x, Netscape was the leading browser in the market with almost 80% of the market, but in a bid to force the issue culminating with proprietary goofs by AOL to whom Netscape sold out, they screwed up big time with versions 4 up to 6. A bitter war of attrition with Microsoft in the late nineties did not help either.
With version 7+ Netscape has been revived. How well it will compete with IE and FireFox remains to be seen.
I will be the first to admit that most the web pages I have built in the last several years are not always standards compliant...and so are ninety five percent of other web pages -- as I stated in my previous article, "if strict W3C standards were to be enforced in browsers, most websites would go out of business."