Designers have known about it for some time now. Developer’s have known about it for years.
Internet Explorer 6 - still one of the world’s most popular browsers - continues to cause web design headaches nearly a decade after it was released, and remains the bane of a developer’s bug-fixing workload, and hindrance to a designer’s creativity.
Sluggish, with broken implementation of standards, lacking advanced CSS support, no PNG alpha-transparencies… the list is long, and the list is painful. Over the years as a developer I have learnt the hard way the tricks and hacks required to get Microsoft’s ageing browser to play nicely, to the point where (in the most part) IE6 bug-fixing is no longer as confusing and daunting as it once was.
But in 2009, with a wealth of better, alternative browsers available (not to mention Microsoft’s own IE7 and now the new IE8), an almost vigilante attitude has appeared, as a whole new anti-IE6 movement is steadily gaining steam.
These designers and developers are essentially saying “That’s it. Enough is enough“. To them, there is no excuse for this lame browser to have such prevail, and to continue to hold power such that it does, slowing and hindering web design and development. Their reasoning, of course, has several points that are hard to disagree with.
My own point of view on this isn’t quite so straight forward, though. Yes, it would be lovely if tomorrow everyone stopped using IE6, and the benefits for developers and clients would be seen almost instantly (you’d be surprised how much influence Microsoft products have on the limits of how certain aspects of a website have to be designed). But it’s nieve to assume people willingly choose this browser over others - they often don’t, or simply don’t have access to anything else.
As someone who believes passionately in accessibility and a positive online experience for all who use it, I feel it a priority to serve content to as many people as possible, and that means I will continue to optimise websites for IE6 as best as I can, for the foreseeable future, however frustrating that is. At the end of the day, the bottom line should not be the browser: but the user.
What the down-with-IE groups are doing that is positive is raising awareness. It’s already getting exposure, in magazines and other mainstream outlets. And that’s a really good thing. IE6’s days are numbered, that seems for certain, and that’s something I think we can all look forward to, as clients, designers, developers and forward-thinking web people.
What’s your browser of choice, and how did you come to choose it?