There's an ongoing struggle in the world of web design and development most of my readers don't know about. Today I'd love to tell you about it. Afterward, I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
According to the latest handy Squarespace stats on my site, 42% of the people who visited my website during the past month are using Internet Explorer 6. I'm trying to figure out why. Then maybe we can make that number shrink a bit. (Baby steps, eh?) I'll share some thoughts on why I'd like this percentage to go down.
In early August, one of my clients forwarded me an email that included this message:
I wasn't able to see the header image on your [newest project] website in Internet Explorer It showed up as a broken link - Melody probably should know. Tell her I was using IE version6.0.28 on a Windows 2000 OS. There are lots of people who still use that version of Explorer. (I could see it fine in Firefox).
Yes. Melody probably should know. And she does. Sometimes, though, she forgets. Forgot. Shouldn't have, but did. (Wishful thinking can be a powerful force to contend with.) Of course that was one of the ever-present reminders that when designing for the web, you have to always, always consider the scads of variables affecting the way people will see what you design. Because what you see online and what your visitors see online could very well be quite different!
The reason my client's friend had not been able to see the page in all its glory, is that I had used the "png" format rather than "gif" or "jpg" for presenting her graphics. (A bit of comparison here.) Sadly, Internet Explorer 6 is not a big fan of the png file format. Because many times, that's the most visually-appealing way to go, I would very much like to use the png format on the websites I design.
So the issue continues to crop up in my work, and today I read this enlightening piece by Chris Coyier at css-tricks.com, entitled "Why People Still Use IE 6." Although some argue in the follow-up comments section that his estimations are off on which percentages are accurate for these categories, I feel confident that these are most certainly the primary reasons. He elaborates on each point in his post:
- Because they have to,
- Because they have an old computer,
- Because they actively don’t care / dislike change,
- Because they don’t know any better...
Please know something now: this is not intended to be a geeky, elitist rant (Shhhh. Be nice,) meant to make my less technologically inclined readers feel unintelligent. I've always thought myself a fairly bright person and I used the internet for a very long time before I even knew what a browser was! Our lives are so full and we're constantly inundated with so much available information that we learn what we need to learn when we perceive the need. And if you can "surf the net" without worrying about the ins and outs of what's getting you there, it makes sense that your browser choice might not be up there with what you're going to feed your children for dinner after work every night this week, or how much harder you need to be training for that upcoming marathon. I get it.
But it occurred to me that for my readers who do have a choice, and maybe just haven't gotten around to upgrading or trying out some other browser experiences, maybe I should just ask:
Will you please consider trying something besides IE6?
Here are a couple of reasons I'd love for you to consider my request:
- It will keep me from having to spend excessive amounts of time in research looking for fixes like this. Since I'm not a developer, wading through workarounds and hacks like this sometimes makes my head want to explode.
- You'll help me keep my rates reasonable. Thereby enabling me to continuing to work with small, often budget-conscious, businesses and artists who love what a simply-customized Squarespace site lets them do online.
- More and more businesses are considering eliminating support of IE 6. Want a little proof? Take a little spin over to M. Dave Auayan's IE Death March.