Dmitry Fadeyev
September 5, 2008

Drop IE6 Support -- Give People a Reason to Upgrade

trash ie6Why do people still use IE6? This is a browser that’s been released in August 2001 — that’s over 7 years ago. It’s old, it’s got hundreds of compatibility issues, it’s not particularly secure and neither does it have many features we come to rely on today in modern browsers. It doesn’t even have tabs. But statistics show, that a sizable chunk of the internet is still surfing on IE6. There are a few reasons why…

First of all, people who use IE6 probably find that it works for them. The services and websites they visit online work fine on it, so there is no incentive to change. Another reason is many internal IT systems were built to use IE6 specific features (that aren’t even compatible with IE7) and so companies cannot upgrade the browsers on their systems unless they spend money upgrading their internal applications. Another reason is that people just don’t know about other browsers.

If we as developers want people to use a modern browser then we have to give people an incentive and information to upgrade.

If you spend hours hacking your site to work perfectly in IE6, you’re taking away any incentive from slow adopters to drop their old browser. All the hacks and legacy support that we implement on our sites is the reason IE6 still has a large market share.

Look at the share of browsers on your site — do the modern browsers have a majority share? If you drop IE6 today, is the share of people on other browsers big enough for your business? If IE6 is the minority, then it may not be cost effective for you to continue supporting it. Look at the hours spent hacking your site and wrapping chains around your feature set just to cater for a 7 year old browser.

Don’t think that dropping IE6 support will also drop that whole chunk of the user base — it won’t. Provide a message for IE6 users visiting your site informing them of browser incompatibility and give them the links to upgrade to a modern browser. Helping people upgrade at no cost to them isn’t something negative — it helps both them and you. People in companies whose IT systems depend on IE6 aren’t chained to it either — they can download and use a modern browser to visit external sites and services.

Marketing great browsers like Firefox and Chrome is all well and good — but we need to provide a push to those still using IE6 by dropping support for it. If we don’t, people will just keep using it. Drop support on your blogs, personal sites and sites with a majority modern browser share. Start phasing out IE6 support from the web, and IE6 will die.

P.S. Oh and yes, UsabilityPost isn’t compatible with IE6.

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