As a blogger, your work takes place on the Internet and this means that the most important tool you use is going to be your Web browser. Fortunately, there is a good selection of free browsers that you can choose from including at least half a dozen “big name” browsers that most at least know about.
But while everyone has a favorite browser that fits their tastes and needs, I’m of the view that, as someone who works online and makes their living on the Internet, I have to be something of a browser nomad, constantly switching from browser to browser as they improve, upgrade and change.
Simply put, if you are sticking solely to one browser, you’re not getting the full picture of the Web and that includes your site. Sometimes you need a new perspective on things and one of the easiest ways to do that is change the tools with which you look the online world.
Reason 1: Browsers Affect Site Design and Use
If you don’t think Web browsers affect the way we use the Web, stop for a moment and ponder how different the Web was before tabbed browsing was common. Previously, most people surfed the Web one stream at a time, flowing from site to site without interruption and never coming back. Now, sites stay open in tabs for long periods of time, as people come back to them over time.
Tabs, bookmarks, favicons, toolbars, etc. are all examples of browser features that have drastically impacted how we surf the Web. An example today is expandable textboxes, available in Chrome and Firefox, but not in Opera, making it crucial, if somewhat difficult, to have comment and contact boxes large enough to be used in all browsers,
If you use just one browser, you’re only seeing one implementation and that might color the way you build your sites, even if you don’t realize it.
Reason 2: Seeing Your Site in Multiple Browsers
Though you can use a program like Browsershots to see how your site looks in multiple browsers, there really is no substitute for downloading other browsers and giving it a try. Using other browsers regularly lets you see how your site and others perform across the spectrum and find ways to tweak and improve your site you might not have seen otherwise.
In short, you might miss something important if you don’t experiment with other browsers from time to time.
Reason 3: Stay on Top of New Trends
Browsers copy from one another heavily and advancements in one routinely make it into another. For example, the “tabs on top” approach popularized by Google Chrome is now being used in the latest releases of Internet Explorer and Firefox (albeit with some variation).
If you use different browsers you can watch and understand these innovations and not be caught off guard by them and how they might affect different surfing habits.
Reason 4: Know What You Love, Know What You Hate
Different browsers have different strengths and weaknesses. By using different ones you get a better feel for what you love and hate in a browser.
If you use just one browser, you might know that you like it, but you might not know exactly why. Experimenting helps you articulate that and that, in turn, is a skill that’s useful when building sites or anything else online. However, it’s a skill you only get with experience and you can’t get that doing the same thing over and over again.
Reason 5: Learn all of the Tools
Sure, you might get your browser of choice when you’re at your computer and using your browser, but what happens if you have to use someone else’s in an emergency? If you’re not at least somewhat familiar with their browser and their setup, it can be a culture shock and can set you back when trying to get started.
Being at least somewhat familiar with every browser possible can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Though they are all similar, the differences is more than enough to trip anyone up in a tight situation.
Reason 6: Variety
Though it might seem a petty reason to switch browsers, but variety makes things exciting and that increases passion. Passion, in turn, makes for better blogging.
If trying a new browser makes you even just a little bit more excited about getting online, do it. You’ll likely find, despite the learning curve, you’re working harder as you’re enjoying the newness of the browser.
I know, personally, my most productive days are the ones where I make a switch and I suspect many others are the same way.
Take the Challenge
With all of this in mind, here is my challenge to you. If you’ve been using the same browser for a long time without exploring other options, take a day this week and dedicate it to using a new browser for the whole day. It’s important to spend the whole day with the new browser, even if it can be difficult to tough it out sometimes, but you need the extra time to really get a feeling for the browser and what you like/dislike about it.
If you take this challenge once every two weeks or so, you’ll be able to try all of the major browsers in a few months. This can greatly broaden your horizons and help you get a more complete view of the Web, essentially seeing your site (as well as the whole Web) through other’s eyes.
When people ask me what browser I’m using, I usually have to answer “Today?”
I change browsers seemingly constantly and sometimes even compare them side by side over the course of the same day.
I can’t say for certain that this made me a better blogger, but it definitely has changed the way I use the Web and has made me more comfortable no matter where I might need to work. Also, I spotted errors on my sites that went unreported by visitors and gleaned several pieces of information that helped me optimize my sites for all browsers.
Whether it is to keep a fresh perspective or to just stay in tune with what’s going on online, trying new browsers and avoiding browser lockdown will change your outlook on the Web, at least in some small way.