As a web designer, it’s my job to ensure that the sites I design and build, work on as wide a variety of web browsers as possible. And that includes Internet Explorer 6 which, depending on which version of user statistics you believe, is still used by 25 per cent or so of web users.
IE6 came out in 2001: that’s a lifetime in “Internet years” and it’s continued use is costing you money. Why? Because it’s flaws, quirks and inadequacies all have to be worked around by web developers like me.
All the fancy little tricks you might see on the latest cutting edge web sites? Well, either they’re not possible in IE6 or, in the majority of cases, everything has to be coded twice – once for high-quality browsers and once for IE6.
Recently I’ve worked with some graphic designers – nothing unusual there – who have provided me with the design their client’s have approved and then passed them to me to “webbify”. All well and good, my bread and butter after all but in a number of cases, what they wanted, what they knew was possible, couldn’t be done in IE6.
Which leaves me/the designers/their client with two options: re-design the site to allow everybody to see the same thing or, secondly, create a “revised” version that users of IE6 will see running alongside the “proper” version.
Without boring you with technical bobbins, we agreed on the second version; requiring me to write a lot of lines of code to show slightly different versions of the site – one for IE6 users and another for other users.
Now, this is the reason why I’m good at what I do – I can make things like that happen, relatively painlessly, and have enough savvy to ensure both sets of users get a good (if slightly different) experience.
But, and here’s the rub, it means it takes almost twice as long to do the work – well, the basic templates anyway – because everything has to be done twice.
Now, if the user statistics for IE6 were, say, 5 per cent would the answer be different? Possibly yes. I still would want to ensure that everybody could see and use the site in the same way but, the commercial realities are that, someone may not pay for that extra work.
So what do I want you to do? Well, being an Apple fan, I’d obviously recommend getting a Mac and walking-away from the Windows world. But, being a realist – either upgrade to IE7 (still has problems but not as many) or – better still – download Firefox 3.
It makes sense and will make your online experience much, much, much more pleasurable.