Smashing Mag just published an article [smashingmagazine.com] that goes right to the core of this topic. The main purpose of the article is to document the differences between IE 6-7-8 when it comes to CSS support and compatibility, which is the main issue for many. I just read it, but it looks like a great reference page to me.
Along the way, the article makes this comment about IE's overall market share of 65%
|The interesting part of those statistics is that the numbers across IE6, IE7, and IE8 are very close, preventing a single Microsoft browser from dominating browser stats — contrary to what has been the trend in the past. Due to these unfortunate statistics, it is imperative that developers do thorough testing in all currently-used Internet Explorer browsers when working on websites for clients, and on personal projects that target a broader audience. |
[edited by: tedster at 5:12 pm (utc) on Oct. 14, 2009]
Probably off topic, but I have a bit of irony to add.
I have a machine here with IE 6 alive and well.
On my "main comp" which is well powered, IE7 intermittently refuses to go anywhere see thread [webmasterworld.com].
Just had this happen minutes ago, had to go to the IE6 machine to check if something was working in IE. Still don't know if it's OK in IE7, but will try again later, maybe 7 will be "in the mood" at that point.
So yeah, keeping the door open for 6, and I still have a Mac here with IE5 on it I run my pages through.
|I seriously don't understand why people don't upgrade their browsers |
Mostly for these reasons:
a) You MUST upgrade your OS [expense]
b) Possibly you might have to upgrade hardware [expense]
c) Possibly you have to upgrade other regularly used software just to be compatible with new OS [expense]
And the benefits Vs cost for me are going to be?
Absolutely nothing... I will see not one thing different from what I see at present!
When using one of my daughters machines in their homes I see absolutely nothing different than what I see on my own Win98SE/IE6/FF2 PC.
So where is the problem in not upgrading?
|Keep it simple is my motto, plain simple html has to be the basic rule. |
I use some .asp to keep the hackers at bay (and it works excellently) but even that code is the most basic. Bleeding edge technology only impresses those who design for the bleeding edge
Someone else speaks plain commonsense.
Folks, if IE6 causes you problems then completely ignore it and work diligently at catering to your preferred browser users.
If IE6 users are a miniscule percentage of your visitors, then you will not notice the difference.
Threads similar to this preceded the death rattles of IE 5.5 and NN.
I think the subject raises a lot of hackles because some people want to get away as fast as they can possibly justify, while others know that they will be catering to IE6 for a long time to come without regard to what is 'current'. One group has nothing to do with the other really. Different choices for different reasons.
People will leave IE6 behind at varying rates and for different reasons. I think that IE6 can safely be declared dead and toe-tagged. Some people will keep it on artificial life support for their own (easily justifiable and valid) reasons. Others will pull the plug, and some will still need to straddle the fence for awhile; supporting for some sites, and abandoning for others.
|I still have a Mac here with IE5 |
Dump IE on the mac: nobody uses that in real life anymore. It's not been available in many years from Microsoft, at a time Microsoft even recommended to use Safari on the old URL where you could download it (they don't anymore, guess the marketing dept. found that page).
And it works so bad that anybody who would still be using it gave up long ago.
|a) You MUST upgrade your OS [expense] |
To upgrade away from IE6 to e.g. Firefox, what OS upgrade could you possibly need ?
The need to upgrade the OS excuse is even if you or some reason desperately would want to stick with IE nonsense in the vast majority of cases.
E.g. in Google Analytics on my biggest site:
11.72% of my visitors over the last month used IE6
2.1% of my visitors run a windows version that's not capable of running IE8
So 1 in 6 has the excuse that it would need an OS upgrade if they are IE fans, for the rest: it's bogus. (and that 2%: I'm willing to ignore them to get rid of the legacy IE versions.)
Moreover wasn't Microsoft going to mimic Apple's US$ 29 upgrade to windows 7 ?
Not that big an expense - and judging from the windows fans it's better than ever etc. so why would it need that big hardware upgrade ?
Sticking with an old windows OS -that's not going to get any upgrades or security patches from Microsoft- is not the smart thing to do no matter what. Before the users of such systems realize it, their computer will be recruited into the mafia and become member of a botnet attacking the rest of us.
I dropped IE6 a few years back for two reasons:
1. The vast majority of IE6 was corporate systems (legacy IT) and most of those were never "buyers".
2. IE6 is routinely spoofed in UA as to skew the real visitors v bots big time.
To my thinking it just isn't worth it. Then again, as I mentioned earlier, I don't code to the bleeding edge on my sites (and the one I have listed here will play in NN4.5 and IE 5.5). Until there is a compelling need to "hot up" the presentation I'll continue to serve content, keep my checkouts simple, and blow and go.
That said, I haven't seen (in my coding/client requirements) that great a disparity in the IE interations. Again... I sell simple over complexity for the sake of complexity (or pretty, or fabulous, or eye candy). YMMV.
|To upgrade away from IE6 to e.g. Firefox, what OS upgrade could you possibly need |
I said I use: "on my own Win98SE/IE6/FF2 PC"
But FF2 is it, the last without OS upgrade. Also again I see no differences in either IE6 or FF2 except that on some "news" sites, FF2 allows me to stop some annoying scripts which lock up IE6. Also FF2 apparently doesn't bother displaying some stupid "flash" or whatever. All I see is a blank space and a caption.
Over the last two years or so, my bandwidth usage has gone up enormously while I'm still doing habitually the very same things everyday. I had to change my bandwidth plan to do exactly what I did before and that makes me very, very cranky.
Why? Because web people insist on putting into web pages all "the latest all singing all dancing BS" which contributes absolutely nothing to the information I seek. Just bloat.
I don't look at videos, I don't listen to music. Every site I regularly visit can easily be implemented in plain old HTML, basic CSS and perhaps some .jpg files.
Now I readily accept that certain sites need all the latest jazz and if that were my interest then I'd upgrade.
Reminds me of electronics [my genre] where most of the features you will never use on products you buy are there simply because, as the cynical design engineers on my electronics forum say:
"Simply because we can do it and it gives the marketing people a warm fuzzy feeling"
Of course no one uses it . . . I keep it only for my "acid test." Want to hear something even worse? I test against NN4 on the Mac too! :-)
I'll take warm and fuzzy...that's what sells! At least for me.
I'm "one of those" web people that like using the latest technology, but only if it creates a more friendly user experience.
For instance, the jquery ui "accordion" allows you to put lots of information on one page without the user having to scroll everywhere or leave the page to find it.
I haven't had a problem yet with IE8. I like the auto-fill addresses and that's something I've used in Firefox for a while. Firefox is actually getting problematic for me because it takes up a lot of my computer's resources.
I don't believe the whole "I can't upgrade" argument and I like to believe this statement from D_Blackwell: "I think that IE6 can safely be declared dead and toe-tagged."
|I'll take warm and fuzzy...that's what sells! At least for me |
Quoting a friend who is owner/editor of a popular electonics magazine:
"Ian, it isn't the steak what sells consumers, it's the sizzle" [expletives omitted]
|There are a few tricks for dealing with IE6 and its flaws. |
Mainly speaking from a CSS point of view:
Do NOT let IE6 limit you in your coding and design
Do NOT use *any* version of IE during the design: finish it fully in the other browsers. Next use conditional comments to work around the bugs in the different versions of IE:
I suggest that this type of approach is the problem in and of itself. If someone will not use IE and will not let IE6 influence anything in the early stages, then when they've nicely painted themselves in a corner, of course they hate the existence of IE. Ignoring the location of the door while varnishing floors is generally foolish behaviour.
If people would treat the real behaviours of browsers as the real standard, then all of this howling would be unnecessary.
It's like going down the freeway and screaming that no vehicle shall exceed the double nickel. Tell that to the 18 wheeler on your bumper.
HTML and CSS, like all internet "standard" are put together by committee. Everyone wants their favourite little thing in the standard. By the time it's finished, it's a horrible, steaming, smelly mess.
Firefox is no model of correct behaviour. CSS aside, it is horrible in other ways. Just a tiny example. With *no* references anywhere on the page to favorites.ico, a gecko based browser will make exactly *two* requests for favorites.ico for every page request. Either the developers do not know what they're doing, or in a misguided effort to make firefox seem faster, they just go ahead and pump out the requests without parsing the page. No other browser does this. And then there is select+copy. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the right click menu will do the trick and somtimes it has to be the edit menu. It depends on whatever mood firefox is in.
My default browser is IE6. So, all development testing accomodates it. Select+copy works *every* time.
Why IE6? The menu, a *few* icons and address bar + go button are all arranged in a single 25 pixel ribbon across the top. No other browser seems to be able to do this. Screen space is precious. Developers who want to display their favourite shiny new buttons and widgets aren't welcome. Yes, you can hide the entire thing, but that's not the same thing at all.
|I suggest that this type of approach is the problem in and of itself. |
With all respect plumsouce, you could not be more wrong. It is the way to remain sane and get your design that DOES support IE6 on it's feet.
Trying to keep it compatible with every version of IE (3 in active use today) at every step, and with their individual bugs and features that set you on the wrong foot is maddening difficult.
The path I was pointing to is one that DOES lead to the site being workable for obsolete browsers like IE6, even if you (and a small minority with you- does actually like that browser.
And that path allow you to do it faster, easier and with a better result.
It does not take away that in total about half your time is going to be spent on outright bugs in legacy IE versions that Microsoft chooses not to fix.
As for the standard: Microsoft has many people on those committees. They even made IE8 complaint with CSS2.1 to a great degree. (Far too much even when you look at CSS3)
>>>even if you (and a small minority with you- does actually like that browser.
Your assumption that people prefer IE8 over IE6 is a fact or your opinion? My opinion is that IE6 had a more intuitive interface than it's successors. I don't think that the fact that more people use IE8 over 6 is not indicative of a personal preference.
However I agree with you 100% that it's important to not let IE6 limit our code. Your point about coding the site to at the very least be functional is sound in every way.
We have a virtual PC installed on our computers in order to have IE6 available. After reviewing our stats every month we are still finding that there is a 13% - 26% user percentage. This equates to a nice chunk of change. But you can't stop there. You need to look at the age demographic of the people using IE6 and then determined what age bracket your site or product is targeted at. If your targeted demographic is the majority of the people that are still using IE6... then it just makes sense (and cents) to run compatibility testing for IE6. You don't really have to design for it... just run compatibility testing for it. There are box model fixes out there and CSS work arounds... it won't be to long from now that we won't have to worry about this any more though. When Windows 7 comes out IE8 will be the standard, although I wish we could forget about IE altogether!
|Your assumption that people prefer IE8 over IE6 is a fact or your opinion? |
Google analytics -my biggest site-:
out of every 100 visitors:
15 do not use windows
26 cannot have IE6 (vista users are upgraded by default to IE7)
59 can use IE6 if they chose to do so:
Yet only 12 do use IE6
So so only 12 users out of 59 that could use IE6 in every 100 visitors do use IE6
That's 80% of those who have a choice to run IE6, choosing to not use IE6.
Sounds like a landslide victory against IE6.
That 20% might have a very vocal core who chooses to use IE6 consciously, but it is a minority, and includes the clueless not knowing how to upgrade their IE version.
swa66...I like your math.
I say this in the most loving way: If IE6 is your favorite browser then I would assume you are a stubborn romantic and possibly a hoarder. There are resources available for people who need help!
It is astounding that people are so clueless that they can ignore repeated attempts from Microsoft updates to upgrade. But I do know some of those people. My solution is usually to wait until they are not looking or out to lunch and upgrade their browser.
Yes, I care about it that much...I may need some professional help myself.
|If IE6 is your favorite browser then I would assume you are a stubborn romantic and possibly a hoarder |
From the user perspective, if it ain't broke, then why fix it?
All through these [many] IE6 threads, not one anti-IE6 advocate has ever offered a single cogent argument for the user to act. A call to arms!
The closest I've heard was some months back, when someone suggested improved security. Well how many security alerts/updates/fixes have there been for XP/Vista or whatever in recent times? Want to know the number of tales of anguish over Vista for example on my electronics forum? And they're largely smart cats!
If, as you mightily assume, I'm a romantic or a hoarder so what? What has it to do with anyone else? How I choose to live my life and spend [or not] my money, as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else, is my business.
|It is astounding that people are so clueless that they can ignore repeated attempts from Microsoft updates to upgrade |
You can't update [without expense] from Win98SE/IE6/FF2
People are not necessarily clueless as you wrongly assume. If what many people are comfortable with continues to work satisfactorily, then why change?
Only people afflicted with "consumerism" change just for the sake of change.
I keep hammering my basic point. Demonstrate a cost benefit for the user! No one ever answers that basic question let alone attempt to address it.
We CAN upgrade. If I upgrade no doubt you would all be happy but I still don't know why you would be happy.
AND I personally wouldn't notice a thing different except I'd have the look and feel of my daughters' PC's which I don't like. I could live with it if I had to.
The whole answer is blindingly obvious to me. Ignore IE6 or any browser you are all unhappy with.
Stop trying to get your visitors to fit in with what you want. Stop with the "square peg - round hole" syndrome. Concentrate on what you do best.
|That's 80% of those who have a choice to run IE6, choosing to not use IE6. |
Sounds like a landslide victory against IE6.
You cannot know that those who upgraded to IE6 did so out of personal preference, a choice. The only thing GA is telling you is that 12% of your site visitors are on IE6. You cannot extrapolate from that data the technical reasons and much less the personal reasons (choice) why they upgraded. This is why I say you are confusing your intuition/opinion with an actual fact. ;)
Is it a choice when Microsoft sneaks IE7 into a weekly update? Is it a choice if a web service you want to use requires/compels/forces a person to upgrade? Both of the above happened to people I know. There are many reasons why people upgrade and personal choice is just one of them. There is no way to extrapolate those reasons from your Google Analytics stats and call it a fact.
|You cannot extrapolate from that data the technical reasons and much less the personal reasons (choice) why they upgraded. |
Well if IE7 or 8 or whatever they use instead of IE6 (or even older) that came with their OS is obviously not a reason for them to revert the fact that they stopped using IE6. - Whatever the trigger was.
Not choosing to revert to the old one is a choice as well.
Not choosing to block -when it's smeared out in the press long in advance- the automatic updates is a choice too.
Going with the flow is a choice as well.
Let me reply to IanCP, in saying that in response to: "People are not necessarily clueless as you wrongly assume." I was referring to the people that CAN and choose not to upgrade. Sorry for not making that clear.
I don't think I'm afflicted with "consumerism" but I will say that I do often like change for the sake of change.
But upgrades to browsers aren't just for the sake of a new shiny color or widget. There are standards that change and improve the way we view and browse the web. The world cannot get away from the old way of doing things if everyone doesn't change.
In my mind, the reason to upgrade would be if your current product isn't working properly, if the newer product completes tasks faster and/or completes more tasks that help you in your daily tasks.
I think the whole xp/vista issue is a result of consumerism. These os's were rolled out in an era when people and businesses had excess money to try new things. Because of the hasty rollout their have been problems.
|There are standards that change and improve the way we view and browse the web |
Of course. If you have particular interests. However most people I personally know simply read online news, participate in a few forums, exchange emails, photos and Google for information.
In our experience those activities are not impacted by changing standards - if you exclude the trend for news outlets to push videos everywhere. I don't want to watch those videos anyway.
In Australia over the recent years the biggest growth in internet usage has been from the middle aged to elderly. So if many of those newcomers now consequently use XP with IE6/7/8, as already installed, then this "problem" will continue in the future.
|In my mind, the reason to upgrade would be if your current product isn't working properly, if the newer product completes tasks faster and/or completes more tasks that help you in your daily tasks. |
Again I must agree with you. But my sytem is working properly.
The faster bit is to my mind quite funny. In the much earlier thread I mentioned and perhaps even in this one, various figues were quoted for relative load times.
Those numbers were milli-seconds! Like I would even notice the difference? Like I would even care?
The only downside I presently find is the software for my mobile phone camera will not work in Win98 SE. It's not supported and this very morning, an hour ago, a friend wanted a photo of a particular optical mouse.
Now I've taken the photo. Have to go to my daughters anyway to do a job so I'll download it to her PC, save to my trusty thumb drive, bring it back and away we go.
I could of course have used my wife's camera if she remembered where she put it.
That's as hard as it gets for me.
I have my web sites. They are simple in design. SSI is as exciting as it gets.
If I were designing web sites professionally, I'd ignore IE6 and just get on with the job. If a client wants IE6 covered then you give them a hand-out saying "can do but, your cost is going to increase 100% or whatever".
The browsers may not have become faster, but the code we use to render websites has become faster. I'm talking way back when CSS took over tables for designing and implementing layouts.
How can we progress to something better when people are using browsers that were introduced 6 years ago? Granted, 6 years does not seem like that big of a stretch...but in the technology world, I won't even read a book that's more than 2 years old.
I just did a Quick'nDirty Friday-versus-Saturday analysis (for just this last Friday and this last Saturday) on a web site with no commercial content:
UA Fri Sat
IE6 13% 3%
IE7 38% 13%
IE8 49% 84%
Which reinforces my opinion that A LOT of surfing occurs at work, and At-Work systems are not as up-to-date as the At-Home ("Saturday") PCs. If I could filter out the At-Home visits on a workday, the numbers may be even more out-of-whack.
(Of course, a lot more samples (weekdays, and Saturdays+Sundays) should be analyzed from my logs. But, I have a semblance of a life, and that much effort is way down on my list(s) of Things To Do.) :-)
When Checking Google Analytics for my Company's site for the last month, 76.89% are using IE. Out of that 76.89%, there are 20.23% using IE6. So my company believes that is still a big enough number to cater to. However I don't design anything for IE6 when it comes to my Freelance work. To me it is like that guy still trying to rock the "Hypercolor" t shirt long after it stopped working!
|1. The vast majority of IE6 was corporate systems (legacy IT) and most of those were never "buyers". |
I would have to concur with this to a large extent.
I just did a check on our Yahoo store over the past month, with about $500K in sales.
Total IE users, buyers and lookers was around 62%. But of actual buyers, IE6 was only 4% of IE users.
Checking what Jonesy did on weekday vs weekend, I show a similar pattern - on Sat & Sun IE6 drops down to under 7% vs about 18% on weekdays.
It might be interesting to get a percentage of buyers vs lookers across all browsers, but don't see an easy way to do that with the stats I have available.
I agree that it is an error to not support IE6 under the principle that a 10% increase or loss in sales is not a small percent. Even at 5% you need to consider that those last dollars greatly effect the profitability a company because it is the first sales that cover the overhead, rent, office, payroll and the last sales that actually make any profit.
In difficult times 5% more sales than your competitor is more than enough to make or break a company.
But there is more to consider. If you can get more sales by providing a better image to the 85% who have new browsers and are able to see a page based on current abilities of their systems.
For example png provides semi-transparency but not with IE6. I am using semi-transparent pngs to provide the majority of visitors with a better page but IE6 users don't get to see it.
I'm using a nicely animated jquery which works for people with newer browsers again IE6 people don't get to see it.
So technically I am not designing for a world of IE6 and limiting what I post for IE6. But IE6 still works it just does not give you any of the newer features. And Oh, on some pages I am downloading fonts - IE6 still gets arial.
|...I agree that it is an error to not support IE6... |
Depends on what you mean by "support".
I design pages so they don't break or crash in IE6, but I don't spend any time tweaking them for exact layout and display either. If an image or box is just right in everything else, but 3px off in IE6, I ignore it.
On IE6, viewable is good enough. Let the bugs crawl around.
We do. Unfortunately IE6 is still about 10% of our traffic but it has been steadily decreasing especially after microsoft provided autoupdates to ie8.
Windows Update was OFF prior to XP Service Pack 2. So those users were ignoring.........nothing.
One thing not mentioned is all the overuse of Flash served to old browsers. Most of those machines have less than 1gb of memory. Ever watch your nifty flash based site take 3 to 5 minutes to show the 'skip intro' button?
Make it display in a usable manner in IE6 and ignore the minor layout bugs (margin/padding).
On one of my 'brick and mortars' the IE6/7/8 visitors is ~26% of the page view. One web promotion run (over several months) has a huge IE6 majority when inside the bricks (print and present the coupon). IE7, IE8, FF and Safari are less than 10% of the coupon presented. The IE6 users spent 2 to 4 times more per visit than the rest.
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