Sunday, August 9, 2009

Internet Explorer 6 ↦

Jack Shedd writes about supporting IE6:

Generally, about 10-25% of my hours spent working on markup are spent either testing, debugging or hacking around numerous IE6 deficiencies. For the cost to work out for the client, the revenue they’d receive from IE6 users has to at least cover my cost of development, and hopefully exceed it. Otherwise, even if the cost were covered, the time spent working on IE6 as opposed to adding additional features or perfecting an existing interaction to better compete is simply not worth it. […]

Just as most sites do not need to spend thousands per month on a server farm, the vast majority of sites do not need to worry about the one-quarter of internet users who continue to use IE6. They need to be more worried about attracting, impressing and retaining new users above all else.

To do that, sites must be able to quickly adapt, add new features, repair old ones, respond to feedback and improve at the fastest pace possible. Sites must consider that newer browsers generally offer better support of newer Web standards that allow their developers to create increasingly gorgeous, detailed and impressive experiences at a lower cost.

In a world where a majority of web users still use the world’s most broken and inept browser, Internet Explorer, good web development inevitably becomes a matter of balancing the pragmatic—supporting IE—and the aspirational—using features that IE doesn’t support well or at all in order to encourage IE users to upgrade to a real browser. This balance will be different for every website, but Jack’s most salient point is something that every web developer should keep in mind:

“Supporting IE6 costs you money” is true for every site. “Supporting IE6 will make you money” is true for only a handful.

I would only add that while this is especially true for IE6, it is also true for all versions of Internet Explorer.