More and more website publishers are deciding to drop support for Internet Explorer 6. This browser has notoriously poor, incomplete, and outright missing support for modern standards in web design and interactivity. Thus making a site that works well in IE6 and current browsers requires significant additional effort. Many web design firms are moving to a model of charging extra for IE6 support on top of regular design fees.
IE6’s days are numbered.
However, many organizations wrestle with when to drop it from the list of supported browser for their site. Total traffic from that browser version is often cited as a metric to use. Only 6% of our visitors use it? Drop that browser like a hot potato!
Hold on though, what if those 6% do something important, like making 20% of your online purchases in your store? Do you want to walk away from that income? Probably not.
Here are a few criteria to use in assessing if you should continue to support IE6 for the time being while we wait for it to finally die off (which is happening more rapidly now).
Do a significant proportion of IE6 users on your site:
Login to a members-only area or frequently use other core functionality?
Make purchases in your store? Representing how much revenue?
Represent key constituents or prospects for your organization?
You get the idea. If IE6 users are not part of a relevant audience for your key goals online then you are safe dropping them even if they are a somewhat high percentage of your traffic. If IE6 users are valuable to your organization, then you very well may be better off investing in supporting them.
Target has settled a class action lawsuit with the National Federation of the Blind over accessibility complaints with Target.com. Despite the law being unclear as to whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites, the company will pay a substantial fee and update its web site to make it accessible to the blind.
Another case study in how building accessible, standards compliant, web sites is not only the right thing to do but can save you millions. Plus, doing the right thing in this regard is easier to do than ever before with improved browsers, web application frameworks and agreed upon standards.
A complicating factor for some organizations can be that they are using systems for their sites that have been developed and added to since the early days of the web when accessibility wasn’t even an afterthought. However, committing to upgrading your system before the lawsuits were filed would have allowed Target to invest a portion of that $6 million in improving their site rather than paying a fine.
Google has announced a new web browser they have produced: Chrome. The application is open source, which means anyone can use the application for free and adapt the source code to meet their needs.
The announcement is less than a day old. Nicholas Carr has the most interesting analysis I’ve seen so far. An excerpt:
Although I’m sure Google would be thrilled if Chrome grabbed a sizable chunk of market share, winning a “browser war” is not its real goal. Its real goal, embedded in Chrome’s open-source code, is to upgrade the capabilities of all browsers so that they can better support (and eventually disappear behind) the applications. The browser may be the medium, but the applications are the message.
As they point out in the post, this will be a growing problem for telecommuters as new PCs with Vista are purchased. Most corporations are sticking with XP for now (with good reason) but the home market is another story.
If your staff work on web content from home, you should do some testing with your system on Vista so that you can anticipate any problems and lean on your vendor to get a fix into place if needed.
Any site that has PDFs is vulnerable. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t compromise the server of the web site. The attack can gain access to the site visitor’s computer by passing some code in the URL referencing the PDF on a site. The post I link to provides info on how to upgrade your own computer and what you can do on the server side to prevent this from being used.
Here is a new WYSIWYG editor for use in web-based content management interfaces: WYMeditor. It won’t give your users true “what you see is what you get” views of the content they are editing but it does enforce strict adherence to XHTML markup. If you have to have highly structured content then this might be a good tool to add to your system.
O’Reilly Media has published a new PDF book (their Short Cut series) that brings us up to speed on IE 7 CSS support and how it differs from IE 6. Looks like a good resource if you want to make sure your design translates well into IE 7. Releasing CSS:
In an industry that communicates with terms such as “Browser Hell” and “browser wars,” a web designer can be excused for having some anxiety over Microsofts recent upgrade of Internet Explorer 6 IE6 to Internet Explorer 7 IE7. Web designers should ask the following questions:
What problems does IE6 possess and what fixes does IE7 provide?
What part of the Cascading Style Sheets CSS specification does IE7 for Windows support?
How can web designers work around any problems that exist within IE7s support for CSS?
While web designers are testing their designs on the latest browser, how fast will IE7 be adopted by their clients audience?
This Short Cut attempts to answer these questions to allow web designers a smoother transition to IE7 and, hopefully, an escape from Browser Hell.
This is really important for any web developer or designer since IE6 will be with us for quite a long time to come. The downside here is that it isn’t possible to run both browsers within the same instance of the operating system, which is why MS is offering a free virtual server with which to run 6 in parallel. Not ideal.
I’m surprised that MS didn’t foresee this need before they launched 7.