The IE6 Gorilla and Taming Expectations

Internet Explorer 6 is a Gorilla. Maybe even a monster. …it is to us website developers, anyway.

What I have come to realize is that the best way to tame that monster is through managing expectations. Here is why.

Outside of the Flash environment, I have always felt that pixel perfect design on the web is unattainable. Every browser and user has different font sizes, screen resolutions, color settings, and browsers. With enough time, we can get close, but we cannot get perfect. AND getting close in all the normal browsers and accounting for all the variables on individual users’ computers takes LOTS of time and continual upkeep as new browsers, computers, and devices become popular.

Those of us that work on tight budgets cannot should not program for every situation. Instead, we should program for our core users. What screen resolutions do our core users have? Are they using iPhones, laptops, PCs, or Macs? Are they using Firefox, IE, Safari, or Chrome? How old are they? Do they care about pixel perfect design or design at all?

The problem with spending lots of time coding specifically for a browser like IE6 is that as every day passes and more users bolt for IE7, IE8, and IE9, the time spent coding stuff specifically for IE6 becomes less and less valuable.

Here is what I propose.

Let’s forget about pixel perfect design in IE6, and let’s focus on content instead. Let’s create a line-item in our web development budgets for IE6. Let’s help companies make reasonable decisions about which browsers they support.

IE6 is dying. Everybody knows that. It is time that we treat it as such.

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  1. JLeuze on June 16, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    IE6 is one monster we’d all like to slay!

    I’m totally for progressive enhancement. I support IE6 on all the sites I build, in the sense that they are usable, dropdown menus and other functionality work fine, but it looks a bit rough around the edges compared to other browsers.

    And I agree that IE6 isn’t worth putting a ton of effort into unless the demographic really requires it. It seems strange that so many sites are still supporting IE6 at the level they are when the user base is so small and shrinking. Yet every day I am frustrated by sites that don’t support mobiles at all, a large and growing demographic!