The HTML5 Browser Dilemma

As we speed towards the year that HTML5 will become an official recommendation, let’s take a look at the current level of browser support. Here are a couple images that we all need to be familiar with. The first is from, a site that ranks browsers based on how well they support the HTML5 spec. The highest possible score is currently 555.



The next chart is from, which tracks current browser usage. Here are the numbers from November 2013:



While it’s great news that browsers that are highly compliant with the HTML5 standard represent nearly 50% of the market share, it’s troubling that browsers that are so far behind as IE9 and older still account for about a quarter of all browsers in use today.

So, what are we to do about this? Here are our recommendations for web developers (and those who employ web developers) everywhere:

1. Write all web pages in HTML5, according to the latest version of the spec. Browsers are continually getting better, and even the most late of late adopters are gradually graduating to better browsers. When you’re feeling down, notice the complete lack of a certain version of a certain browser from Microsoft on the above chart!

2. Learn about and use Modernizr and Polyfills for any feature that might not be supported by every browser. Modernizr is a JavaScript library for detecting whether a user’s browser supports features. Polyfills are JavaScript replacements for HTML5 features which you can load conditionally based on the test results from Modernizr. For example, if you want to use the HTML5 video tag on your site, but you don’t want to leave behind users with old browsers, simply test for <video> support and include one of the several <video> polyfills. You can then use <video> as you normally would…the polyfill will take care of the rest! It’s like magic, except it’s not.

HTML5 represents a major improvement to the web, and it holds the promise of reducing and perhaps even eliminating browser incompatibilities at some point. But, not just yet. In the meantime, however, it’s fully possible to support nearly every user of your site and to smooth over browser incompatibilities by using simple and free tools. So, why wouldn’t you?



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About Chris Minnick

Chris Minnick is an accomplished published author, trainer, web developer, and co-founder of WatzThis?. Chris has overseen the development of hundreds of web and mobile projects for customers ranging from small businesses to some of the world's largest companies. Books he's authored or co-authored include: Beginning HTML5 and CSS3 for Dummies, Webkit for Dummies, CIW eCommerce Certification Bible, and XHTML. Since 2001, Chris has trained thousands of Web and mobile developers in HTML, JavaScript, CSS, SEO, and full-stack web development. His current online courses, Creating Mobile Apps with HTML5 and Achieving Top Search Engine Placements are consistently among the most popular courses offered by online training provider In addition to his role with WatzThis?, Chris is the winemaker at a micro-winery (Bad Astronauts Winery), contributor to several blogs (including, and an avid swimmer, cook, and musician.