Browser detection (also known as Browser sniffing) is a set of techniques used in websites and web applications in order to determine the web browser a visitor is using, and to serve browser-appropriate content to the visitor. This practice is sometimes utilized to circumvent incompatibilities between browsers due to misinterpretation of HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), or the Document Object Model (DOM). While the World Wide Web Consortium maintains up-to-date central versions of some of the most important Web standards in the form of recommendations, in practice no software developer has designed a browser which adheres exactly to these standards; implementation of other standards and protocols, such as SVG and XMLHttpRequest, varies as well. As a result, different browsers display the same page differently, and so browser sniffing was developed to detect the web browser in order to help ensure consistent display of content.
It’s also used to detect mobile browsers and send them mobile-optimized websites.