So Long Internet Explorer 6 (Almost)

by Jonathan Longnecker

Die, IE6!Seems like everyone is dropping support for IE6 these days. Apple with MobileMe, 37Signals with Basecamp; even Google with Gmail. What gives? Well, it’s 7 years old for starters. In technology years, that’s like 247 years old! It’s much less secure than the other major browsers. It’s javascript support is wonky at best. And it’s CSS (layout) support? The stuff of horrible, kill-you-in-your-sleep legend.

Is it really that bad? Unfortunately, yes it is. Let’s just say that at least 15-25% of our time goes to fixing bugs in IE6, even when what we’ve coded is valid and adheres to the W3C standards. You start breaking that down and that’s a lot of time and money that’s being wasted for a 7 year old browser with 20% market share (and declining).

Now on the other hand; we do understand that some IT departments won’t let businesses upgrade; and that’s not the users fault. We realize that saying we won’t support IE6 at all in the future is irresponsible and not realistic. But we’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?

So here’s the deal; starting this year we’re going to charge an extra fee for IE6 support. It will depend on the type and size of the project, but should be equivalent to 15% of the development cost since that’s about how much time it takes. There, I’ve said it. Do what you will to me.

What do you think? Are we not going far enough? Are we destroying the internets? Or is it a good compromise? Tell us in the comments.

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January 28, 2009

Design

Comments

  1. It’s a substandard and outdated product. Perfectly valid to charge for supporting it and don’t think it sounds like your fee is out of proportion but I guess that’s all relative to how much business is coming in the door and how high you want to push you work pain threshold.

  2. Yes! That’s clever and I love it. I will now steal this idea. 
    But I think you can/should charge more than 15% to these luddites.

  3. I hear you! I guess it’s about time that we took a stand..

  4. It’s a good idea, but seriously, once you know all the quirks of IE6, does it really still take you 15 - 25%? Did you actually keep track of the development time spent on IE6?

    If you did, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. If you didn’t, I suggest you do that first before you come up with a number…

  5. @Schop it obviously depends on what kind of project you’re working on. A web app with complex javascript effects? 25% for sure. A simple marketing site? Probably less than 15%, but you never know.

    That’s the problem with IE6..even if you know most of the bugs like we do it never fails that you manage to unearth a new one with whatever design you’re working on. Cue more hours of research and bug testing. I swear it’s every time.

    And don’t get me started on lack of proper png transparency support. Yes I know there are some fixes, but none are elegant or go all the way in regards to background positioning or repeating. Not only does it add time to the way you chop things up and code them, but it can greatly impact your design if you know you have those limitations in place.

    I wish it weren’t so, but it’s just time consuming.

  6. I am ALL with you guys. I can’t keep track of how many times we get a call from clients saying “This doesn’t look right on my computer” and then they reveal that they are using IE6. And to boot… they don’t want to upgrade. I don’t get it. It makes perfect sense to charge a little extra if they want to ensure that they’re site looks good in an outdated browser. Bravo!

  7. At our college, we’re probably going to support IE6 through this year. In this time of tightening budgets, it would be nice to make a business case for not spending valuable development time on IE6. About 13% of our users are on IE6. I’ve seen this number trend downward over the past few months, as IE7 support was introduced for some key web-based applications used by our campus.

    What percent of IE6 users is everyone else seeing? Is anyone else looking for a certain percentage of users before they drop support, or charge extra for it?

  8. All good points. NO more IE 6 for me. IE 8 is knocking on the door. It feels like IE 7 wasn’t around long to kill off IE 6 more…

  9. Please get rid of this “god-for saken” browser!!!

  10. I’m going to be re-designing my companies site as my next major project.  It was a long and hard decision not to support IE6, but at this point the added development costs outweigh the benefits. 

    I think you nailed it on the head…most IE6 users today are due to stubborn IT departments.  I also really liked how facebook put that message up about not supporting IE6 with the re-design when IE6 visitors came to the site.  I’m strongly considering doing the same.  We’re just not even going to make the site available to IE6 users and tell them we are too lame to support that fine piece of software wink

  11. We recently did a B2B site for a lighting company. We figured that there would be some late adopters (read: people who use fax machines) so we made a jquery sniffer to redirect them to a page we named url.com/ie6_is_bad

    On this page we politely explained that their browser was 7 yrs old and they would be better served with FF (or at least IE7). We provided links to download their new browser. They could also “take their chances and enter the site with IE6” and we set a cookie so they only see it once. smile

    I had a friend suggest that a better solution might be to slam a div to the top left or right that had that info but was hidden from newer browsers. We may try that next. What if everyone added this feature? IE6 users would be annoyed enough to upgrade or even bug the IT guy enough to upgrade (7 yrs is long enough IT guy.)

    Please steal our idea.

  12. We should get rid of IE7 too! **evil** Our lives would be so much better if all we had to do was code for firefox.

  13. I have a theory. If all developers would drop support for IE6 it would eventually be forced out of existence. What good is a browser if nothing on the internet supports it? People who are either too stubborn or too lazy to install something a little more up-to-date (preferably ff), would have no choice but to do so. So please, strongly consider NOT support IE6 in your next project.

  14. Let it burn!! muw a -a-a-a-ah. Great idea charging for ie6 support! I might have to steal that idea! ha!

    One day, hopefully ie6 will be but an unpleasant childhood memory… Wait, aren’t those things that effect us our whole adult life? Is that inappropriate?

    Good post guys.

    Rick

  15. Behind you 100%, in fact we’re already writing it into our contracts since the start of this year - never actually put a figure on how much extra we would charge per se - just that it would be an hourly rate….

    IE6 simply breaks my heart sometimes.

    This site puts it pretty plainly: http://dearie6.com/

  16. Agreed, IE6 is a *happy word* there is no two ways about it, and we all love to avoid the tag soup syndrome of adding random divs around problem elements. But I agree with the point that once you know the faults of IE6 then it is quite easy to rememdy. PNG32 is the reall issue for me, IE6 notiours rubbish support for this is legendary (There is JS to fix it, but some rules apply).

    I dont think we will send the end of IE6 for a long time, until the government announces upgrades to all business IT software. I believe some people still use IE 5.5, which if you thought IE6 CSS was bad it aint a touch on IE5.5 rendering.

    Still will be supporting it, as in my opnion ie6 is still widley used - and to have your sites fall on their arses because your CSS does not render doesnt really look that good.

    My personal favourite ie6 bug is the display:block on a tags whilst in a li which insitis on putting an absurb amount of padding around the li element, its a winner.

  17. @ Steve Ahhh I hate the list padding bug! Found if you add width to the li it helps, though. Still annoying smile

  18. The old _border:1px solid #xxx or width - thats a winning formula.

  19. It really depends on the particular market.

    If a website is designed for a business that deals with other businesses, you could drop IE6 support.  Business people can understand a suggestion that they’ll be left behind if they continue with an obsolete browser.  And they’re likely able to fund the upgrade, as well as understand it.

    If a website is for the general populace, a large percentage of those people are not computer fluent, and a sizable percentage don’t have much discretionary spending power.  It would be counterproductive, not to mention elitist, to not support IE6 on those sites.



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