Lay off IE6
Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways
This may get me in hot water but to be honest I’m getting pissed off with the constant hatred for IE6 from web professionals and the double standards this creates.
Users, users, users
So many professionals will talk about the user till they’re blue in the face, which is only right as we work in an industry where pleasing the user is the primary goal. But when IE6 is involved all this stuff just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Unfortunately many web developers have taken a strong stance against IE6, conducting what can only be called a witch hunt against the aging browser. Some of this mob arm themselves with morally questionable update messages or simply lock down a site to anyone using IE6. These are aggressive actions to take aimed firmly at the best interests of the developer and not the user.
All or nothing
Many of these people, especially those that lock down their websites seem to have this view that it’s all or nothing, that a user will get the website exactly as intended or not at all, a third option never crosses their mind.
To what degree you support IE6 depends on how many of your users view the website using IE6. If only a small percentage of the websites audience use IE6 then don’t sweat it too much just make sure all the content is available, the site in navigable and that functionality works or that alternatives are available. If the percentage goes up then decide for yourself how much time and effort it is worth putting in. Offering a working, if slight broken website, is better than no website at all.
There’s nothing wrong with displaying upgrade options for IE6 users, just remember to be friendly. Instead of making it sound like the problem is theirs explain simply that IE6 is hard to work with and some stuff may not work as intended. Then give the users not only options to upgrade if they wish but also a way to get rid of the upgrade message. I even use a cookie to hide the message on subsequent visits to a website so a user doesn’t become annoyed with a message they’ve seen many times before.
It’s ok to get frustrated with IE6 sometimes but at this point in time it’s something that will not just go away. What is unfortunate is that the frustrations of the community and in particular the experts whose voice carries furthest may be influencing a new breed of web professionals whose opinions are influenced by the views of others.
Rather than get too hung up about our issues with IE6 it would be better if we educated both users and professionals about IE6 in a way that best serves the user rather than our own selfish needs. Most IE6 users won’t give a damn about our sleepless nights of testing; instead they just want the best experience available to them. Is that too much to ask?