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If there’s one thing we know by now, it’s that web development can be a protracted process at times; you have got to stringently test your CSS, HTML, JavaScript and other pieces of code against almost every browser imaginable before prepping for launch. Whilst this process may take time, it is fundamental for continued success.

There’s a browser on the WWW that is somehow relatively unknown, but also surprisingly popular. It’s widely used in emerging countries, and it doesn’t support large chunks of the CSS or JavaScript many of us use today. At present, the browser doesn’t support custom fonts using @font-face, CSS positions, form validation, border-radius or any of the video or audio elements from HTML5.

The browser in question? Opera Mini. Now, you’d probably be hard pushed to find somebody with Opera Mini installed on their phone, and chances are you’ve probably never even used it yourself, but it’s a browser that’s gained serious traction in countries with tighter bandwidth caps.

In countries like Sudan, the average annual income is around £650, which doesn’t provide enough to get more than a few megabytes of data. Every kilobyte counts in these markets, which is why Opera Mini has become so popular.

The browser, which has more than 300 million active users, features special acceleration technology that routes web pages through Opera’s servers to optimise the data required to load them.

There’s likely good reason for this, as Opera’s optimisation technology can only strip out so much, but the concept of developing for emerging markets is something that every developer should be aware of.

When building websites, front end developers often spend countless hours ensuring sites display gracefully on older browsers, but what about those in developing nations, where every bit and byte matters?

We feel that it’s now down to developers to ensure that sites gracefully degrade for users, no matter how difficult the task may be. Every user should be able to experience the internet as it should be experienced – what they shouldn’t be presented with is a half-baked version of the web we’ve come to know.

We are Connect – the original web development agency. We have been providing best-in-class web, data and development services to public and private sector clients since 1994. Connect with us today to take the first steps towards your digital transformation.

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