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browser compatibility


izzi81

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I'm hoping you can help with some advice. I'm currently employing a company to build me a database website for a business start-up. It is near completion, and I happened to look at the site with a colleague at my current work. My office still runs IE6, and there were a few design glitches in the layout when it was viewed with this browser. When I asked the company if they could fix this, they said they worked to current standards, follow COI advice and test on new browser types. As such, it will cost more money to fix these IE6 issues.

So what I don't know is... is it worth getting it fixed? The site is hopefully a business users site, and if my office still has IE6 does this mean others will too, and the site will look bad?

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OTT_Buzzard

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If it's for business users then, yes, it is definitely worth getting fixed. Enterprise is notorioulsy slow at updating software like IE.

I've worked at a number of very high profile companies over the last year of 2 and none of them have IE7 or later installed.

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Kemistri

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Thanks for posting an interesting question (and currently a hot topic among devs).

There are different views and approaches to the IE6 issue: some devs no longer support it at all; some do so if the contract stipulates it; and others consider it to be still far too important to be optional. I'm in the last group.

Usage stats vary hugely according to target audience, but I find that IE6 typically ranges anywhere from 10% to 30% for most of my projects and that is far too big a percentile to neglect. If I work hard to cater for minority needs that can account for as little as 1 or 2%, it would be lazy to forget IE6.

The problem, from your point of view, is that there is an increasing number of devs who are phasing out IE6 testing or dropping it altogether. The response of your dev is not very helpful or sensible, I think, but bringing it up at this point is far from ideal. IE6 support should at least have been offered as an option and then it would have been easier for both parties to deal with. If it is offered retrospectively, take up the option if time and budget permit.

That said (or written), don't expect pixel perfect layouts in IE6: there are some things that can be fixed and some that have to degrade to some degree. That is also very true of certain client-side functions that cannot be provided for it, so you will often see a more basic Javascript experience in IE6.

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izzi81

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Thanks a lot of the feedback. My instinct was that it needed to be fixed, but as I'm not hugely knowledgeable in this area I thought it would ask - interesting to see you guys have the same view.

Some of the layout issues are very small - a few pixels - but some are really quite large. I think I will ask about costs, and if it is a lot I will suggest they fix the large issues just now, as from my point of view they would affect a users opinion of the professionalism on the site.

I agree about their bringing it up at this point not being helpful - when the design was being settled upon there was no mention of possible ie6 problems, and I thought that a web designer would use hacks available to make it look as good as possible in most browsers. I guess not! Something else to add to the steep learning curve of this project :)

Thanks again for the comments

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Kemistri

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Oooh, we don't use hacks! There is really no need for hacks within CSS.

If you want to work out what needs to be given top priority, ask some third parties to view it in IE6 and ask them if they see anything that looks a bit odd, not quite right, broken, etc. It helps to get an outside perspective.

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HighTower

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I think that Kemistri has pretty much nailed it when he talks of target audiences. I've written sites for individuals where the browser stats suggest that IE6 usage is as low as 3-4%. In this case I don't worry too much about it, although I do make sure that it is at least accessible to IE6 users. A recently completed site aimed at business users had an audience of IE6 users as high as 50%, some were still on Windows 2000 machines.

A well written stylesheet which contains conditions based on browser version could probably sort this for you. To a degree I can sympathise with the designers as I think Microsoft took their eye off the ball in those years between IE6 and IE7, and there is a growing "ditch IE6" campaign which appears to be gaining in momentum.

Until users do ditch it though some end users will look at the site in IE6 without being aware that IE7 / IE8 exist. And if it doesn't look right to them this will reflect badly on you.

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Kemistri

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There is a point of view that suggests that IE7 usage may diminish more than IE6, based on users' apathy or lack of knowledge and also the limitations of older operating systems that can't use IE7 or IE8. Most users of IE7 will adopt IE8, which could reduce IE7 down to the levels of IE6. And 6 will be with us for a very long time to come.

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