With ongoing moves by larger companies to kill IE6 (I got today quite a few emails from Google announcing they're stopping IE6 support March 1st 2010 on Google Apps), I tried to compile a bit what we webmasters can do to help kill the browser that's holding back the web nowadays.
There are a few problems with this.
- Some can't upgrade their internal apps, but that's no excuse to not install a real browser and keep IE6 as an alternate browser for the legacy applications that need it due to shortsighted decisions from the past
- We should want to avoid them upgrading to subsequent legacy versions of IE as once our plan succeeds IE7 will become the new IE6 (and IE8 is no better with a utter disregard for CSS3)
- IE6 is still in use, depending on your demographic audience, so some might want to hold back, your competitor might want to catch the traffic you chose to drive away
- Some feel they cannot upgrade to more recent versions of IE (still it will not stop them from finding an alternate browser)
Still those who want to proceed should know the different options they have.
- Stop letting legacy browsers let you stop from innovating your design, use conditional comments to offer a degraded but pleasurable variant to your visitors. This will not help all that much, but it will help those who finally convert be evangelists to their fellow hold-outs. This is the one thing every webmaster ca participate in as log as a different experience for IE6 is acceptable.
- Tempt and/or warn IE6 users their browser really needs an upgrade, while keepig a functional site for IE6 users. This is what Google is claiming to be going to deployed real soon now. If you seek code to do this, ie6nomore has some code for you to cut and paste: [ie6nomore.com...] . note that the code might need an upgrade for FF3.6 and you might want to ease up on promoting the CSS3 defective IE8.
- Stop testing in IE6, without knowing how it will react. This will more and more become the default for many new webmasters who just won't have (legal and easy) access to IE6 anymore (just like many -myself included- lost access to IE5 today). The unknown bit is a bit scary as you have no idea just how bad the user experience is.
- Hand IE6 the content unstyled. Just the plain HTML content, no CSS. This can be done in a number of ways, e.g. through browser sniffing. This will dramatically reduce the user experience, but might still be much preferable to just not testing your designs anymore in IE6.
- Block IE6 users to your site, giving them a messages as to why. The most draconian measure. This is actually easily achieved with just a conditional comment and some CSS (how: in a IE6 conditional comment: put the refusal to serve IE6 message on a background image, load that onto the body and set all children of body to display:none (using the right amount specificity as needed) )
I've seen all of these approaches out there. Most on just a very few sites that could be called somewhat anti-microsoft, but esp. the first method is often and widely used. With the second method gaining acceptance, we could hope for an acceleration ad an increase in pressure on those IE6 hold-outs.
Obviously each of these has it's advantages and drawbacks, and the method should be chosen in a best match with the site, the visitor mix and the amount of blocking you want to perform.
Got any more methods ?