We had a discussion this morning at work about IE6 support started by Blaine Bowers. We have had this conversation several times over the past year but this time we settled on stopping our support for Internet Explorer 6 when Google does, which is March 1st. Microsoft has already dropped support but Google dropping it is a bigger deal as they have some of the most visited sites in the world, including YouTube. This is great news for us at work as we do spend a little time having to fix IE problems. We still plan to support IE6 but at an additional charge if its needed for the client. I am mixed about the choice thought.
On the one hand, IE6 is a pain in the ass sometimes. I know people spend lots of time having to debug and fix problems in this old, outdated, broken, and security mess of a browser. This is time that could be spent doing something more productive then having to support an 8+ year old technology. The web is moving forward and great things are not only on the horizon but most already here. However, dropping support for a browser that, although outdated and a security risk, has a decent market share fully isn’t the best solution. Unless you know the site your doing will not have a noticeable amount of visitors on IE6, then I still believe that the website should be functional in IE6. It won’t look as good as it will in modern browsers like Safari and Firefox or even IE8 but you know what? It doesn’t have to. The site doesn’t need to look exactly the same in every browser. I believe a minimal amount of time should still spent in at least opening a site in IE6 and at least giving it a look over and fixing any major issues that keep the site from being used correctly. I’m even okay with a little message warning users that have IE6 that they should update their browser, but not a warning that covers the website and keeps it from being used.
Although we will not be supporting IE6 by default at Crane|West anymore, I still plan to open each site in IE6 to at the very least give it a look over. The ideal situation of course would be to get a feel for the number of IE6 visitors that the client site will get either based on their current analytics, which sadly aren’t always available, or research on other sites in the field or taking a look at their target audience. Then you can make a decision on whether the time and money spent on providing full support for IE6 is required or needed by the client. When the market share for IE6 drops below 5%, then I believe support around the board should be dropped, but until then, whether we like the browser or not, people do use it. Its just a matter of if those select people are your target audience or not.