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How many monkeysIn a recent Twitter exchange Helen Emerson, a web designer I admire a lot, celebrated the fact that Internet Explorer 9 is finally going to support rounded corners. My feeling on this to this is that’s nice, but it would have happened a lot sooner if we web designers hadn’t hidden IE’s deficits by finding ways to make it display rounded corners anyway.

This is a general problem, and it’s the reason why web standards generally are still such a mess. Most users aren’t aware of this because we hide it from them. Everything seems to work fine in all browsers – as far as users are concerned we are living in an era of universally compatible browsers. Actually, we’re still a long way away from that.

If you look at the code of almost any modern web page you’ll find it full of workarounds that are necessary to make things work properly in different browsers. This applies particularly for Internet Explorer, which may have got better on the surface but still requires countless special solutions to get it to behave. Much of the work on any modern website is devoted to getting it to work in IE as well as in normal browsers.

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