Study: Firefox restricted by incompatible Web sites

Firefox may have ended 2005 with nearly 10 percent of total browser market share, but new users are in for a nasty shock, according to recent research, which claims one in 10 Web sites don't allow full access to Firefox users.

The research, from U.K. site testing firm SciVisum, was based on tests of 100 leading U.K. consumer Web sites. The firm found three percent turned away users of browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer, while another seven percent used code that could only be rendered in Explorer.

Examples of sites turning away non-IE users included Odeon Cinemas and Jobcentreplus. Sites using IE-only code included British American Tobacco and Lloyds TSB's insurance site. The company noted that some companies changed their policies after the survey was carried out.

"Surprisingly, after all these years, users of standards-compliant browsers are still faced with sites that do not support their browser or with a link suggesting they download Internet Explorer, a browser they had presumably chosen not to use," said SciVisum chief executive Deri Jones, in a statement.

The company recommends site developers to code to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standards, which allow developers to separate content from presentation.

It isn't all bad news for alternative browser users -- SciVisum said a number of sites had done remarkable turnarounds over 2005, including PowerHouse, which formerly blocked Firefox users, and English Heritage, which originally forced Firefox users to a non-graphical version of the site.

Firefox went from 4.64 percent of the browser market at the beginning of 2005 to just shy of 10 percent by the end of the year, according to NetApplications. Over the same period Explorer fell from 90.31 percent to 85.05 percent.

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Matthew Broersma
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