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Do you still design for IE6?

 10:32 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good Afternoon!

I am so happy with the new rollout of IE8 because I have not encountered any problems with switching layouts for any of my sites when I am designing.

Of course, I still check it in IE7 and make sure that it at least functions properly.

IE6, on the other hand, gives me so many issues that I'm thinking of just forgetting about it completely.

I am in awe that people can still use it and browse the web properly. I seriously don't understand why people don't upgrade their browsers.

I know that people ignore or turn off the automatic Microsoft updates. But with the latest IE8 release I know I was hounded to upgrade each time I opened it up. Why don't people just do it?

I don't even remember when IE6 was released, but it has to be at least a few years now.

So anywho...as a designer/programmer, do you worry about IE6 anymore?



 10:37 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I stopped coding for IE6 some years back. As for the updates and why some don't.... there are corporate situations where the user has no choice, there are older OS systems which WON'T upgrade, and there is ordinary user laziness/lack of knowledge.

Then again, I don't code to the bleeding edge. Nearly all of my sites will run in IE5. :)


 11:01 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hadn't thought of the corporate admin blocks...quite annoying! You would think the network administrators would be worried about the security issues. I guess I'm safe forgetting about IE6.

Most of my sites look fine across all of the browsers...eventually, of course, after some tweaking of margins and what not. But now I'm getting into jquery and javascript and there are just so many inconsistencies.

I want to make a pop up window that recognizes the browser and if you are using IE8 or older give them a link to upgrade. I know that's super annoying, but I'm on a mission people!


 11:10 pm on Oct 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Depends entirely upon your percentage of IE6 users and impact upon $$$. I no longer support IE6 because I don't have to do so. None of my sites have a high enough percentage to justify. Also, I lump obsolete browser users with third-tier customers. Lower ticket averages, lees sophistication, more trouble....

However, there are a lot of IE6 users out there. Government agencies, underfunded and understaffed organizations..... Very good point by tangor on 'corporate situations'. Corporate IT department are rightfully slow to adopt new stuff unless it is security related. How many corporate IT departments decided that moving to Vista would be a good thing? LOL If any of the core remaining groups affect you - then IE6 is a big deal - right or wrong is not relevant.

It's partly personal. I don't want to support these people and am always pleased to stop. Yet I continue to test pages in Opera (Why?), which, outside of the geek world no longer exists for practical purposes, without regard to to its quality. I have more IE6 users than Opera in all versions. Should I suport Opera. On most of my sites, the numbers say absolutely not. I choose to do so because it is easy to do so and gives me an extra layer of 'rendering opinion' for my pages. FF isn't perfect either.


 12:08 am on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I acknowledge IE6 exists and try to create a site that functions correctly with it. Making your site validate goes a long way to making this possible.


 4:37 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

None of the sites that I currently maintain are for ecommerce, basically just some informational, corporate or non-profit sites that exist solely because they need a web presence.


 5:10 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I personally don't, but if I had my way, I would do away with IE all together. Absolutely hate trying to comply to that browser...


 8:11 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I seem to recall reading that upgrading from IE 6 to 7 or 8 wipes out all your content, whereas from 7 to 8 you can upgrade and not loose content. That would be a good reason to not upgrade.

Also i've noticed when I design a site it looks very strange in IE 8 (using browser cam as I only have IE6) , i.e., images disappear, et.


 8:24 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Currently around 10-15% of site visitors use IE6. Rephrase the question: Is an hour (or even a day) making a site IE6-friendly worth it in order to earn more income?

Or rephrase it like this: Is it ok to drive 10-15% of your web traffic away from your site and to your competition?

The reasons why people use IE6 are irrelevant. Being upset at people for using it is pointless. What matters is a major segment of the Internet use it and if you care about your earnings then it's imperative to make your site IE6 friendly.

The whole point of SEO and SEM is to attract traffic and convert it. To not design for IE6 is self-defeating. Why agonize over title tags, alt tags, H1, and your inbound links while tolerating the loss of 10-15% of your site visitors? Why expend the effort getting people to your site if you're only going to drive them away? What is the point?


 8:38 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Or rephrase it like this: Is it ok to lose 10-15% of your web traffic?

Agree, but have to calculate subtraction for value of IE6 user. IF 10% - 15% of traffic, WHAT percentage of orders and what percentage of dollars?

Perhaps a bit unseemly to compare trailer parks to exclusive gated communities, but there is a correlation between up-to-date and savvy - and not. Split the difference and call it 12% of traffic. What if that is 6% of sales. I can get a 6% increase in sales by taking even better care of my more desirable users.

The more the question comes up, the more likely it is already answered. The upswing in "Should I support IE5.5 and NN." helped to establish that answer was no. When everybody is asking, the tipping point has probably been crossed for most.


 8:47 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

What if that is 6% of sales. I can get a 6% increase in sales by taking even better care of my more desirable users.

In my experience, when a site layout was blowing up, it usually took my site designer about an hour or two to fix the error and make the site display well for IE6.

So I am still not convinced that spending an hour, two hours, or even a single day is such a hardship, and less convinced that the minimal time typically required, about the time it takes to eat a sandwich, is going to impact sales to those who use more modern browsers. How could an hour or two spent upgrading a site for IE6 take away from sales? Is that a legitimate reason to throw away 10-15% of web traffic?

As far as the assumption that those who use IE6 don't have money and correlate to trailer parks, I think there is absolutely no basis for that conclusion. Equally, I believe there is no foundation for believing that those who use modern browsers are more technically savvy.

The question should not be, Do you still design for IE6? The question should be, Why are you throwing away traffic by not designing for IE6?


 10:00 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

The question should be, Why are you throwing away traffic by not designing for IE6

Exactly. At the very least, sites should be useable in IE6.


 11:41 pm on Oct 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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:
    - it stops you from going insane on "that" browser
    - you only need to fix what you've left as bugs in the end, not all those that never get triggered in you final design
    - you can just fix it so it looks acceptable, you do not have to understand the bug, when it is triggered or why it is there to start with. - Much easier!
    Something to far to the right ? Well then just move it to the left. Don't care what or why it is in the wrong position at all.
  • you can use scripted solutions to fix a number of problem in IE. e.g. IE7.js and IE8.js fix a lot of the problems in the legacy IE versions
  • graceful fallback: if you can't get an effect in IE6 to work like what you have in better browsers, then why not just settle for something less advanced, but still workable. The day those users do in fact upgrade: they'll now see all sorts of thing, including rounded corners, drop shadows, hover effect on non-links, transparent background images, etc.
  • fallback: if you code clean html and style it using CSS, you html should make sense on its own and worst case you could offer it unstyled to unsupportive browsers: it should still all be there, just look "old".

But I'm very supportive of those deciding enough is enough and stop supporting IE6. It's a decade old, riddled with bugs and should have been terminated long ago. But it is kept on life-support for all the wrong reasons.

The more webmaster that block IE6, give it a sub-par experience or tell their visitors to finally get their act together and upgrade, the sooner we all can forget IE6 like we did with older versions of IE.

IE6's market share is dropping fast among my visitors, once it reaches 5%, I'll probably start ignoring them myself in the next redesign. Some customers might want to keep compatibility longer than I do for my sites, so I'll keep that virtual machine image around (but will need to get paid to start it).


 9:10 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am still using IE6 at work (major plc) and there are no plans announced to upgrade. If I couldn't make your site work from the office I wouldn't bother having a second try using Firefox at home.

For the sites that I have built in my own time I simply avoid any feature that requires a browser specific hack.


 9:59 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I work for a large LTD company in the UK...we still have IE6 at the moment, but we should be upgrading to IE8 very soon....


 1:21 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Interesting...swa66, I think you have solved the problem rather eloquently. Of course, if your code is clean then your page will at least make sense.

And of course, you are right that you should design for IE last to fix the visual effects of little bugs.

Which is why I love IE8! I don't know how many times I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my site after coding it for Firefox and Safari first and everything was perfect.

I have been checking my sites IE traffic lately. The funny thing is that the one site which is basically a government agency has the highest number of IE6 users. Which doesn't surprise me at all! They had about 60% IE traffic and 60% of that was IE6.

I stated in their contract that I would not develop for IE6, but now I might check it out and do them a favor if there are errors since most of their audience wouldn't be able to see the site.

JAB Creations

 3:13 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

First and foremost any talk about supporting any version of IE should never be done without mentioning conditional comments and object detection. Swa is correct that you NEVER design with IE but failed to clarify how and why which is why my first point is devastatingly critical.

Secondly from what I've seen a lot designers don't comprehend basic CSS1, floats, clears, etc. In the exceptionally limited positive things I have to say about IE6 specifically is that it handles CSS1 just fine and I see a lot of designers thinking they've hit IE bugs when they're simply not coding their XHTML and CSS correctly.

IE6 debuted in 2001 and was cutting edge then (it really was considering Gecko was in it's infancy and tons of people were still surfing with Netscape 4. *shivers*) But today it's dead...like, it's dead Jim.

I'm all about the cutting edge and in the 29th version of my site am really stretching to support IE6 as my work will also serve as a basis for my future business. My site is pixel-perfect (all rendering engine renders render my site with at least several bugs) though even with JavaScript will only go so far as to smooth out IE6's bugs. I just don't care about pixel-perfect design in regards to IE. What really matters is that IE6 users are able to do what they will need to do in the future in a business environment. No rounded corners, no multiple-column paragraphs, etc.

I also like to stress that whenever a client complains their site doesn't work in IE6 I charge a premium for legacy support because it really is a legacy browser. I don't care if 99.9% of the world was using IE6 I'd still charge an arm and a leg for supporting it beyond the simplest of CSS fixes via conditional comments...at least with the sort of things I do. But most people aren't doing anything too cutting edge and in general patching IE6 isn't too difficult if you know the how and why and in those majority of cases I say support it if it composes a reasonable chunk of your site's traffic since it's easy but don't go all out crazy though. ;)

- John


 3:48 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

IE6 is still preinstalled here ;-)


 5:38 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've kept to IE6 and FF2 on my web development machine, much easlier/quicker to test websites, as I've yet to see an IE6 page not work on IE7/8.


 6:07 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

>> What if that is 6% of sales. I can get a 6% increase in sales by taking even better care of my more desirable users.

Why not do both? Support IE6 and take better care of your customers?

The powers that be around here would have us working night and day to pull and extra 6% through the conversion funnel. We code back to IE6. It may take hours or even days to get it right, but over time it more than pays for the effort.


 6:16 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I recently did some research recently on some major UK organisations and it confirmed our suspicions:

The NHS has over 750,000 workstations and laptops nationwide. IE6 is installed on all these by default - it takes a specific requirement from the local trust to add a different version. The DWP, with 500,000 workstations, follows suit. These are two national government departments; There are over 50 more in the UK alone. Couple that with large corporations and local government and you can start to see why IE6 still has a large market share.

The infrastucutre needed to test, rollout and deliver a new piece of software, and the others it impacts, over massive networks, is simply monstrous. I worked on the IT programme that installed IE6 (+ servers, XP etc) for the DWP in 2002/3 and it was a huge undertaking - there was a team of over 300 staff on the project alone, working for over 3 years.

Good news on the horizon mind you—if I can use the DWP and NHS as benchmarks—both are working on full support, to allow the upgrade of the workstations to IE7. Not IE8 yet tho - not until they implement Vista or W7 I guess.

Personally I offer limited support for IE6. Most users (FF, Safari, IE7 etc) get the full experience the richer, nice to haves, whilst maintaining the usablity/functionality for IE6 users too.

Luckily it is very easy to target IE6, so although I do spend a long time browser testing, I know I can just kill off a few items and leave IE enough scraps to make do.


 6:51 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've yet to see an IE6 page not work on IE7/8.

I have - twice. And both cases were validated HTML 4.01 strict and validated CSS.

Well, the page did work on IE7 and only had problems on IE8. Compatibility View fixed it, but that's small comfort. No other browser we tested on XP Pro, Vista or OS X had trouble - not Opera, Safari, Chrome, Firefox. And one of these issues was not a small nitpick. It blew up the header section layout! We ended up mystified and had to drop the "Home" link on the business logo.


 7:27 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have seen stuff that worked perfectly in IE6, FF, safari, opera and even IE8 fail miserably in IE7 (disappearing background color making it all look extremely funcky.) And depending on where you scrolled, went with the mouse pointer etc. it all changed. Horrible bug.


 7:37 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

All of mine look quite smashing in Firefox. IEX7, and Opera ..

The only time Opera presents herself in a less than honourable fashion, is when she is selected to view strict xhtml .. right then, guess you can't have it all. (I won't even bother with trying to write for Opera when it comes to xhtml)

I absolutely loathe IEX8 .. All of the little toys, like the drop down "guess what I'll be typing next" idiocy in the address bar .. total rubbish.
At least I can turn the one in Firefox off.

Trying to delete the temp files in IEX8? Give it up. It only partially deletes and one finds himself having to go in and do it manually.

Then, the little blue annoyance that follows my curser around on the screen (it only really shows up when I go to highlight text, or hang about over a link) .. quite useless.

All IEX8 is, is IEX7 with running boards and dice that hang from your rearview .. that's it. It even renders slower than IEX7 does.


 9:18 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

So anywho...as a designer/programmer, do you worry about IE6 anymore?

Yes I do. I don't use it but many of my visitors still have IE6. The percentage is not huge, but 20%, 10% and even 5% might represent a lot of people depending on your traffic numbers.
  • I don't use specific browser tricks or hacks
  • I code my html-css designs testing with Opera, Firefox, IE8 and IE6 at the same time. I even check it on linux with konqueror and FF as I've experienced some issues that doesn't appear on the Win side.
  • I try to keep things simple, it is easier to grow and redesign when you begin with one html, one css... One final code for every browser.
  • If I can't find a way out on what I want to do, I look for another way to do it instead of "fixing it".

Remember, its been discussed before how browsers TRY to figure out your code and FIX the supposed html-css. Browsers aren't truly WYSIWYG so a multi option testing approach seems better for me.


 10:13 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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.


 10:43 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

First and foremost any talk about supporting any version of IE should never be done without mentioning conditional comments and object detection. Swa is correct that you NEVER design with IE but failed to clarify how and why which is why my first point is devastatingly critical.

While I did mention conditional comments right after saying you should not design using IE, I still don't quite understand what you wanted more.

I do post far longer how-to do it replies every so often in CSS forum and wrote a best current practices article in the supporters forum that explains it all of more detailed and longer:
[webmasterworld.com...] (supporters account needed, sorry)

Back on topic:
I do very much want IE6 gone, out in the CSS forum we see daily what IE6 causes in the minds of people seekign help with their CSS. IE7 is a bit better, but suffers from somewhat different issues.
But the real kicker is IE8. It causes less trouble for what most do now, but wait a decade and we'll talk again. IE8's lack of making allowances for CSS3 will make e.g. CSS3 selectors a very tricky to use thing as it'll throw syntax errors and ignore an entire rule due to the presence of a CSS3 selector in a list of selectors. SVG ? nah. they're still #*$!ing their VML instead. I'm sure the javascript folks will "love" its javascript too, ... We'll curse IE8 just like we curse IE6 today once we get rid of IE6 and IE7.


 11:59 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

It doesn't make economic sense for me to worry about IE6 with my sites. According to Google Analytics, IE6 doesn't result in enough revenue to make it worth while.

It would probably be more economically viable for me to promote something that required IE7+ to work.


 11:13 am on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

People won't upgrade because it is a hassle. I have had some big problems when 'upgrading' and most of the issues have been caused by Microsoft.

A video driver update on a laptop stopped the screen from working at all.

Another update (can't remember what is was for) from Microsoft caused by computer to decide to create a new user account for me, so when I reset the computer it looked as if everything was lost. To a normal end user, this would seem to be a disaster.

I upgraded from FireFox 2 to FireFox 3. This was should a bad upgrade, I now use Google Chrome as my main browser. Firefox 3 is a nightmare, not closing down properly and very, very slow.

So to ask if people will simply upgrade, remember not all upgrades go smoothly. Not all people will like the newer version. I think twice these days. Do I need the upgrade? Am I happy with the version I already have?


 12:22 pm on Oct 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

No Joke - I had a client two weeks ago who was using IE5.

If the project demands IE6 support I bill extra for it.

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