Archive for the ‘browsers’ Category

IE6 – who uses it?

July 25, 2009

There is much talk about the support for IE6 being dropped at the moment.  Two I read about recently were Digg thinking about dropping support and YouTube showing a we will not support IE6 in the future message.

I think that a site as important as YouTube making this move will mean that others follow suit. In fact I dropped IE6 is a site that lists all sites to date that have dropped support.

This could mark the beginning of the end of endless workarounds by lots of us and free up more time for innovation, lunch etc.

Consider the users

But I want us to consider other users of IE6. The people themselves.  If Ben Parr is right in his article on Mashable that “15 to 20 percent of the world’s browsing still done in a browser created in the digital Stone Age” then it’s those people I would like us to think about.

I realise that many of the people who use IE6 are doing so because the company they work for is ‘sticking to it’ for whatever reason.  And that when they get home, they’ll most likely be using a more modern browser.

However, some people may still be using IE6 at home or in an environment that doesn’t have a massive IT team. Those people are most likely not using IE6 because it’s their favourite browser.

It’s more likely that they are using IE6 because they don’t know how to upgrade their browser. It was on their system when they bought the computer or someone may have set up their computer for them aeons ago and since it works ok, they haven’t even thought about changing things. They may just be scared of doing so.

This might sound odd but I know of more than one instance, personally, when someone was too scared to do anything at all to their browser.  Including changing the settings. I had to convince one person quite hard to upgrade, talking them through the whole process.   Another person had no concept of what the browser really was, that you could change settings etc.

Make it easy for users

So, if we are to tell people that the website they are on is no longer (or soon to be no longer ) supporting IE6, then we need to explain to them what this means.

We need to enable people to take action so they can still use the sites they want to. And this should be as instructive and non-scary as possible, using clear and simple (and non technical) language.  To help them.

I had a look at what YouTube has done.

“We will be phasing out support for your browser soon”

could read

“Please change how you access this website to see it properly. Find out more.” (with a link to an explanation).

Or “We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. What does this mean?” (with a link to an explanation).

These are just quick suggestions to make the point really.  And this is all fairly obvious, I know.  But it’s worth considering that some of the people who use IE6 are unlikely to just click on another browser’s logo and install it. For the very reasons I have highlighted above.

Some people don’t even know there are other browsers available.  If we are going to give people a choice, which I think we should, then we should include a range of browsers like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari.  It would be good to tell people there are different browsers and then what will happen when you click on a logo for example.  Even if this means linking to a different ‘help’ page so you don’t compromise your design.

It’s not going to be too hard to do this is it?  After all, we want people to come to our sites and have a good experience. And really, we don’t want to lock anyone else out.