One in ten UK websites fail to work properly when viewed in Firefox, according to a study of "100 leading consumer sites" by web-testing firm SciVisum, reports the BBC.

While websites like the cinema chain Odeon have been long time no-go areas for fans of the popular open-source browser, many of other problem sites listed hardly qualify as "leading consumer sites": are you a regular visitor of BSS Pipeline & Heating Solutions or Mansell Property Services?

However, the problem is certainly a real one and while people are quick to blame Microsoft and Internet Explorer's casual approach to W3C compliance, the culprit is most certainly lies with web developers and the specifications imposed on them by their clients.

Auntie suggest that codies are too engrained with testing their work in IE that they forget, or even worse, ignore, how their site renders in alternative browsers. "There is a certain business logic to this as IE is the most widely used browser," said Deri Jones, CEO of SciVisum.

When developing the current new-look bit-tech, we made no such assumptions - Firefox was already the browser of choice of most of our staff, and a strict standards-compliance ethic was quickly established by the additional need to cater for our team's Mac zealots. The battle was no longer IE vs Firefox, but included Safari and IE for Mac, as well as Opera, which is available for no less than seven operating systems.

US-based analysts NetApplications say that Firefox's market share was 8% in May, up from 5.59% at the beginning of the year; Internet Explorer's near 90% dominance of the market as a whole can be explained by its popularity on the corporate desktop, as well as it being the default browser of nearly every Windows PC on the planet.

Naturally, bit-tech readers are way ahead of the curve in the adoption of so-called "alternative" browers. A year ago, 20% of readers used Firefox / Mozilla, and Internet Explorer was still used by 69% of you. By the time Firefox 1.0 was launched in November 2004, it had dropped to 58%, with Firefox users making up a third.

In 2005, IE's share has declined month-on-month to under 50% for the first time, while Firefox continues to grow to more than 45% - how long will it be before we see those positions reversed? Firefox has over 64 million users and growing every day; originally the domain of tech-savvy netizens, it is increasingly being considered in the workplace due to the constant security issues plauging IE.

The moral of the story is equally applicable to any business: Know Your Customers. It can be extremely time consuming to code and test a website that can successfully navigate the myriad of foibles unique to each browser - if you're building a corporate intranet, you could undoubtedly save time by working in IE-only. However, if your site is public-facing, there are no excuses for it not working correctly in the world's second most popular browser.

If you are interested in trialling the many benefits of Firefox, such as in-built pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing, download the latest version from getfirefox.com; Opera is available from opera.com.

What is your favourite browser and why?
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