Are you living in the past?
Posted 9th January 2014
In my recent website redesign I made the decision to provide only basic support for Internet Explorer 8. Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7 haven’t been a concern for a while (except in edge cases) but version 8 is still around.
To help make this informed decision I looked were my analytics which told me that I only had a few visitors a month using old-ish browsers like IE8. I decided that, in order to keep the maintenance of my site as efficient as possible, I would make very few allowances for IE8 and earlier.
But shouldn’t it all just work?
Web design is a funny one. The functionality of a site (processing forms, generating the content for a page, etc.), in very simplistic terms, either works or it doesn’t.
How the website looks is a completely different story. This is all down to the web browser you’re viewing the site in (Firefox, for example) and operating system and hardware the web browser is running on (Windows 8 on a PC, or iOS7 on iPad for example).
Over the years, web standards have become the norm, so modern browsers display the same web page in a very similar way. Each does have its quirks, though, so your website might look slightly different on Opera to how it does on Chrome.
Of course, not everyone is running (or able to run) the most recent version of their chosen web browser and, as I’ve mentioned in the past, older browsers were on the way to supporting, but not fully compliant with, web standards. So they may be less capable than their more up to date siblings, which means your website might be missing one or two features (nothing vital – just nice-to-have cosmetics like rounded corners) on these browsers.
And there’s not just that – each browser and platform can have a different screen size: smartphones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers come in all sorts of sizes, then you’ve got viewing your phone or tablet device in landscape or portrait. This massive variety of screen sizes should be designed for, with the layout of your site adjusting accordingly.
Whilst I’m not putting a lot of effort into supporting older browser, I’m still making some provision for them. Just very the bear minimum.
An important point to remember is that anyone visiting your site is very unlikely to be comparing how it looks in more than one browser. That’s what geeks like me do!
Nobody’ll know that there are a few bells and whistles missing, as long as your message is being delivered and your overall brand look and feel is represented.
And your point is?
There’s a fair amount of work in writing code to cater for out of date browsers (whose market share is always decreasing anyway), then maintaining that code as the website continues to evolve.
It’s 2014 and, thankfully, we’re reaching the point where we don’t have to cater for browsers with poor web standards support.
This means less time has to be spent coding for browsers that need special treatment and more time can be spent on important things like getting your message across as efficiently as possible on the massive range of screen sizes that are out there.
What do your analytics look like? Is it time you stopped spending time and money on catering for older browsers?