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Does Your Company Still Need to Support IE6?

Does Your Company Still Need to Support IE6?
Published July 16, 2009 by Jenn Soloway Comments: 2
pie chart breaking down the percentage of browser usage, as of June 2009

A breakdown of browser usage statistics from w3schools.com for June 2009.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6. To web developers, it is an outdated browser whose support requires extra time and effort when developing a new website or service. To the IT department of large companies, it is the only browser in which the Intranet they’ve developed will render and behave properly. To the end user, it may be either the only choice they have to get online and browse websites, or the only choice they think they have. Fact is, the browser does not mean the same to everyone. And the support of, or decision to no longer provide support, this one browser when planning your next web project or update is not as cut and dry as whether or not you personally use it. Social Media sites across the web are a-buzz this week with users who, for the most part, are rejoicing the decision by two major online companies – Digg and YouTube – to discontinue support for IE6. They’re not the first, and they certainly won’t be the last. Is this, as many believe, a sign that all companies will soon be dropping support of the browser? Certainly not. As Digg illustrated in their blog, the decision to stop support for IE6 on their website was not made simply because “it is outdated” and they were tired of supporting it. Reviewing the statistics of visitors coming to their site and what functions they perform revealed that the efforts they were making to ensure users browsing with IE6 could have full functionality were disproportionate to the amount of users actually doing so. Online project management developers 37Signals revealed similar information in their announcement to drop support last year. According to statistics by w3chools.com, IE6 still accounts for almost 15% of the web’s internet traffic—a mere 3.8% less than IE7—as of June of this year. What if a portion of that 14.9% make up the majority of your target audience? What it comes down to is this: IE6 is only outdated if the vast majority of your visitors are not using it to browse your website. The best and only way to determine whether or not it is say “goodbye” to IE6 support is to review your own visitors’ browsing habits first. Though I will say this is a trend that we will only see steamroll in the years to come.

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2 Responses to “Does Your Company Still Need to Support IE6?”

  1. Mark said:

    Knowing your target audience’s web habits is a vital bit of info that a lot companies ignore when they decide they need a really “cool” website. If a chunk of your visitors live in rural areas and a good percentage of them are still on dial-up (trust me, it happens) you don’t want to be hitting them with a site loaded with gigantic images and tons of crazy scripts. These look great when you’re on your T3 line using Firefox 3 but not on IE6 over a 56Kbps modem when you don’t have a flash plug-in.

    • jhoysi said:

      @Mark – Exactly! Trends shouldn’t be a driving force in a website overhaul. It’s about how is the best way to reach the audience you have.