We don’t want your old crap

Imagine if the following happened to you.

You’re about to fill up your car, an old one, at the service station. All of a sudden, the service station attendant jumps out of his booth to tell you: “Excuse me, but your car is really old. I suggest you buy a new one. But hey, while you’re here, you can still fill up.”

What would you do?

  • Buy a new car.
  • Fill up and not think about it anymore. After all, the guy did give you some good advice.
  • Drive off while trying to run over the guy’s foot to punish him for his rudeness.
  • Drive off and never come back.
  • Drive off, over the guy’s foot, never come back and tell all your friends about the gas station attendant’s strange idea of service.

My guess is it would be one of the last 3 choices. 

Only on the web

IE6 users no longer welcome
The scenario described above would of course never happen in real life. There isn’t a shop owner out there who’d be that stupid.  

But not so on the web. The many users of Internet Explorer 6 are taking a beating lately. A lot of websites are telling IE6 users they have a ludicrously old browser that’s stopping them from enjoying all the interesting features of their great website. So they should upgrade. Now.

I don’t think so.

Stop pushing your visitors to upgrade 

You are not going to change your visitors. They don’t have to adapt to you. You have to adapt to them. If you still have a lot of IE6 users among your visitors, make sure your site works in IE6.

In Belgium, IE6 is still used by 1 out of 6 surfers. That’s not exactly a number you can just ignore.

Do you really think all these people will upgrade their browser to look at your wonderful website?

Have you ever thought about why these people are still using IE6?

  • They’ve got a computer from work. They don’t have administrator rights so they can’t upgrade.
  • They don’t know anything about computers. They just use it to surf the web.
  • They’re afraid of downloading and installing upgrades. 

You are not going to change that. Don’t stigmatise your visitor. Just let him surf on your site. If there’s a certain feature that really doesn’t work in IE6, tell the visitor on that particular page. And tell him nicely. Real nicely.

That will help your business. Putting up a big red flag telling people you don’t like their dated browser isn’t.

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  • Slaine

    In principle I would agree that each site still has to work with IE 6 at the present time. An by the way, in corporate environments, the usage of IE 6 is even much higher then the 1/6 you mention.
    Nevertheless, IE 6 is getting really old and is much less performant in terms of javascript and DOM manipulations, hence, less and less fit for mordern ajax and javascript heavy web application.
    Therefore, I does not hurt to alert your user on this, as long as it is done in a proper way.
    To be honest, your comparison does not really hold as totally different situations.

  • http://www.wvhconsulting.org WouterVH

    IMHO The car analogy is broken, because in most countries old cars are required to do a yearly technical checkup. If they don’t meet the minimum technical requirements, there are not allowed on the street anymore. Old cars need to be fixed or taken off the streets. I think that is a GOOD thing.

    Deprecating IE6 is definitely a good thing for the web in general,
    because its deviates the most of normal webstandards.

    In general websites/webapplications shouldn’t support browser-applications like IE, Firefox, Opera,… they should just support webstandards like correct xhtml/css.

    A gas station need to have support for Volkswagen, Renault, Mercedes, … it just need to support gasoline, diesel,

  • http://www.agconsult.be Els Aerts

    @WouterVH and Slaine: I’m not saying IE6 is a good browser. I’m not crazy.

    But the thing is, regular people don’t know this. They have no idea what a good browser should and should not do. They have never heard of web standards. They just have this thing on their computer and they’re using it to surf the web. Period. IE6 is not the surfer’s problem. It’s the web builder’s problem.

  • Andrew

    @Els Well you just said it. They don’t know that IE6 is old and didn’t pass the last yearly technical checkup (@WouterVH).
    Unfortunatly M$ doesn’t inform their users well enough that IE6 is old! Instead they promote IE8 as a much better web browser. They don’t even mention that IE6 has mayor security/performance problems, that would of course be to shoot themselves in the foot.
    Instead it has become our job as web developer and website owners to inform the users of this. I would love if there was a standard way of doing this, then maybe the message would become much clearer for the end user.

    …also the high percentage of IE6 users could be due to a lot of piracy and problems with “Genuine M$ License”!?

  • Slaine

    > They just have this thing on their computer and they’re using it to surf the web. Period.

    Oops, not a lot of room for discussion here!

  • http://www.agconsult.be Els Aerts

    @Slaine: Loads of room for discussion! :) It’s just that people involved in the web or computer industry professionally don’t seem to realize that most ‘regular’ people don’t really give their browser much thought. But if you have arguments to convince me otherwise, I’m all ears.

  • Jeroen

    “most ‘regular’ people don’t really give their browser much thought.”

    A message like the one above on threadless maybe is going to change that. See it as a friend telling you there is still food sticking on your face…

  • http://www.agconsult.be Karl Gilis

    Some websites are not very polite to IE 6 users. See the screenshot http://www.flickr.com/photos/robotjohnny/3629069606/sizes/l/ of photo diary service Momentile.

    For all those webbuilders that think users know what a brower is, watch these street interviews from Google. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ

  • CarolN

    What about all those sites that will ONLY support an outdated browser? Examples:

    NGP only supports IE 6 and 7 and FF 2 and 3– if you come to the site using Safari, Chrome, IE8, or a FF beta, it does not let you use the site.

    Allegheny County, PA real estate assessments: lets you use any browser you want, but says “These applications are designed to be viewed using Internet Explorer 6.0.
    You may experience difficulties when using other browsers.”

    Sterling Bank, which says “This website is best viewed with Netscape 6.x, Internet Explorer 6.x, or AOL 7.x browsers.” This is a currently functioning bank that, ostensibly, would like to have customers, and they are stuck in the internet circa 2000!

  • http://2wtx.com/itsbroken/ Louise B.

    “You are not going to change your visitors. They don’t have to adapt to you. You have to adapt to them.”

    I agree up to a point, but to be fair, IE6 is so bad that it makes it almost impossible for web developers to offer the same level of service that users of other browsers get. A better metaphor would be (at least for sites that politely point out the problem with using IE6:

    You’re about to fill up your car, an old one, at the service station. All of a sudden, the service station attendant jumps out of his booth to tell you: “Excuse me, sir, but your car has a faulty gas tank door. It will not allow the nozzle to be securely inserted for filling your tank. We’ll do our best to serve you well, but I just wanted to know that it’s probably a good idea to consider upgrading to a better tank door.”

    IT’S BROKEN blog recently published a post about this problem:

  • http://www.agconsult.be Els Aerts

    @LouiseB: Yes, IE6 is a bad browser. But many people don’t choose to surf in IE6, it’s their browser because their company/government agency’s IT department says it’s their browser. It’s not the surfers’ fault. They’re simply stuck with it. I agree with your suggestion to let the surfers know that they’re not exactly using a top grade browser in a nice way. And to ask IT departments all over the world to get rid of IE6 already.

  • http://www.funnymotivationalposters.com Mikomi

    This is stupid, its the ie6 users that hold back the web.
    currently 6% of the users in europe still have IE6, why should 6% keep the other 94% back. IE6 does hold back the evolution of webtechnology.

    IE6 is 10y old, by claiming that we should keep supporting it, you are actualy asking to stick with 10y old technology and not advance.
    Would you like it to turn back 10years and stick there ? no flat screen tvs, no fancy i-pods, no eco efficiant cars, …
    Technology has to evolve, and not kept back by those few surfers.
    It’s not that we are “banning” them. The browser is made for machines with small screens, limited colors, little hardware. but they still wanna visit fancy sites like youtube and expect for this technology to run smoohtly ? cmon …

    here is no support for old windows versions, there are no new drivers, every form of support for old computers is gone. However, IE6 is still being used… why ?