Like Tam's approach the key is to give the client options so they can make the call based on their budget and business needs.
"No, I will not do IE6 support for you. You've trusted me to solve your problem in the best and most efficient way, and supporting IE6 would be a waste of your money (and my time)."
What your statement shows is not a understanding of how to solve the problem for such a client, but a rather a complete lack of understanding. Check the audience metrics, check the real problem being solved, and leave the grandstanding aside.
And for the record, I hate IE (6 or otherwise) and never want to support it. But I am not going let me personal dislike for a technology get in the way of helping a client solve a really important problem.
I guess we're fortunate in the sense that our software is important enough and expensive enough for top management to make IT allow a new browser just for us.
At the UK NHS, who exactly is the CIO, who exactly is mandating IE6 and only IE6? Can't that person be reasoned with? Overridden for the good of the NSH? Fired even? Just saying 'oh they're only allowed IE6' is giving up too early.
Governments, for all their posturing, love dealing with oligopolies, or even better, monopolies. They feel safer in making purchases from them. So around 2002, the UK government decided IT was so important, it was going to be done centrally for the whole NHS. They gave the job to Richard Granger, who then proceeded to divide England into five regions, each of which would have one vendor responsible for all software in the NHS for that region.
As part of that deal, they licensed MS Windows and Office. At that point, it became more expensive to use open source software than Microsoft's software. Then they standardised on IE6, and many vendors began using ActiveX.
When I ask departments to upgrade, they say they are going to do so, but first they need every single vendor to have signed off that their software works in the new browser. This will take a really long time.
Some will install a new browser for us, but this will actually result in a worse outcome for the clinicians because they have to use IE6 for most of their existing browsing, and then the other browser for us. They do not understand the point or the difference, and new browsers mean a different user interface, and they want to get on with treating patients rather than choosing between browsers.
The epilogue is that the UK government's national program wasted 12 billion pounds (about 20 billion US, ie the same amount the US government is also identically wasting to subsidise electronic health record purchases). And Richard Granger left the UK in disgrace.
He is now a consultant in... Australia :)
Many legacy web applications were built to work on IE6, and changing to a more modern browser can subtly, or completely in some cases, break these critical apps. It may be a pain for users when their favourite social media site looks rubbish or doesn't even run in IE6, but it's nothing compared to the finance department not being able to run their end of year reports because one screen in their GL system doesn't render properly in Firefox.
And it costs money firstly to test every single function of every single app that your business uses, and secondly to fix those places where it breaks (especially when it's an external vendor's application). That time and money can often be better spent doing one of the thousand other things that are making demands on the IT budget. Most companies are slowly making this transition, but unfortunately it's not just a case of saying "This browser it better/more secure than that one. Let's upgrade".
Instead you have to take the time to understand why they are requesting it and then communicate the tradeoffs to them at the appropriate technical level for their expertise.
In my experience, clients are usually pretty good at providing rationale for their requests, so my implied scenario is a bit of hyperbole. Often when the topic of legacy browsers comes up, it's because the client has been in the process of having a website made before, and is relieved to discover that the technology has moved forward since then.
You can have a site with newer, nicer features, or you can have a site that supports older browsers. If you want both then you are commissioning two distinct websites. If you want usage statistics for old browsers I have them, and if you want to be economical I can produce the second website for older browsers at a reduced cost with reduced flair, after all only X% of people would see that site and it would still look reasonable, just not amazing. What would you like to do?
While supporting IE6 is onerous extra work, it's still work that can be done and has little impact on the final product.
Take the other position, that 'Not supporting IE6 will mean I'll charge you 70% of my original quote, only x% of people use it in your target market' or better add it as an extra in the quote in the first place as the article suggests.
Then it's up to them, it's a risk assessment. But be up front in your quotes with it, not an after the quote is won 'I don't know how to do it!'.
The article's incredibly OTT on how much adding IE6 support costs, but I certainly would never go down the route of lying to a customer about it. If he charges double it's probably because he hates doing it and fair game to him.
Depends on the tools you use, etc. It very well may double the time required (as IE 6 support requires tons of testing of all the features, and many software project have huge portions of the projects being testing, not development).
Additionally, you tend to need more experienced engineers, IE6 support is aged out of the current crop of grads.
I think the second legacy browser site is a great solution. Additionally, I think if you're saying "has little impact on the final product", you're not working with clients who open up psds and count pixels on you. Some people are.
Trying to build a responsive, dynamic webapp, that is identical in IE6 to a modern browser can easily add a lot of time. Just as an example, producing all the graphics for rounded corners, rather than being able to do them in CSS.
The thing about IE6/7 support is that it's a complete known quantity at this point. The problems & workarounds are well documented. There's tons of experienced HTML coders out there that know IE backwards and forwards. CSS frameworks like OOCSS include built-in workarounds.
So if IE support doubles the cost, it must either be something very complex, or a real nickle-and-dime project. (Either that or the webdev doesn't really what they're doing.)
That said, I'm happy to drop IE 6 where not required by the client - 8 may not have html5 or CSS 3 features, but at least it's relatively bug free.
Having said that, fields with a more even gender ratio have had to deal with this for a while - what do they do?
Just because a book said it was preferred in 1848 to use he when sex is indeterminate (then went on to use both singular he and singular they) doesn't mean that's true today.
The language always used both. Why stop today? Might feel a bit odd at first if you're not used to it, but it's not a bit different than how singular "you" is used ("You are coming today?" uses the plural form of "be").
The book itself used both forms! Shows you that English teachers may have been overly strict with you in the past.
Some more on the topic:
Anyway, "They" has been undergoing this process for a few centuries now, and I concur that it's time to embrace it.
I don't really think it's an evolution, as much as the mid1800's tendency to over classify and striate things going away.
It is one of those niggles that irks my pedantic self though; particularly the politically correct change to using 'she' instead of 'he' (instead of the perfectly neutral 'they', and even 'one').
I've always used "he/she". But that's not quite accurate (or elegant) either.
Actually I see the exact opposite around me: developers billing by the hour and warning that IE 6 (or later) will generate extra work (and costs money).
Most people I know just have a look at their site stats and see what is worth it.
I realize it's not cool but we chose to just not do all those things. IE 6 does support a lot of what you need to do and once you figure that out it becomes easier to make it work without having to go back and fix it later. I'm pretty good at it now so I don't really complain if someone asks me to make something work in IE 6. It's not a huge deal if you know what the issues are.
Making sure IE6 was supported was still commonplace even last year.
You're not as unique a snowflake as you think you are, we've all been having to do it. It's only becoming viable now to suggest otherwise.
That's unnecessary. The point, without the invective, please.
My local branches look like they had their last refurb in the late 90s for example.
One example does not a sample make.
These aren't the rental outlets but their main business offices in UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal & Bulgaria!
NB. The Bulgarian results shows 71% using IE6 in their main office(s).
One example does not a sample make
At no point did I say it was relevant outside my sample :)
This is because most of their intranet apps will only work in IE6, and they have the size to demand that their supplies support IE6 too. Corporate IT policy won't allow browsers apart from IE.
If only Microsoft allowed side-by-side installs of IE6 and a IE8 it might be a bit more bearable (given that IE9 is not available on XP)
How did it ever happen that IE6 ended up in such a long lasting and dominating position? Was it (I am just guessing here) the coincidence of tho things: (1) IE6 just happened to be the most recent Microsoft browser around the time when most of bigcorps initially build their inter/intranet apps, and (2) because this was the first wave of building such things, the web coders did not bother to think about a future when IE6 is no longer a modern browser?
Those two kind of fought with each other by introducing new features that made web pages incompatible with the others. Also, even then corporations weren't really keen on letting you use some other browser, so IE was the go-to since it was already installed. Since the market was so slim, and seemed to be increasingly vanishing, it seemed easier to justify going with IE's extensions.
If Microsoft had kept updating IE and hadn't let it linger for years, we'd probably still be in the situation where they're in control of the de-facto standard. It's only because they sat with their thumb up their ass that things like Firefox and Chrome were able to get footholds and start disrupting the situation. Already being present and practically being named "The Internet" are really big adoption factors.
There was also a general distrust of open source software during the time that firefox was gaining adoption. With so much malware being spread via the browser (IE6), there was a fear that firefox's open source development model and perceived immaturity were a security and support risk.
(Not sure if all my figures are accurate, but that's the gist of things).
That and there was a big gap in time between IE6 and IE7. Didn't Microsoft once announce that IE6 would be their last browser, as that's all the world needs?
And this also seems to be the common case when I've done onsite freelancing gigs in non banking (SMB) UK companies over recent times :(
I still maintain one site which is around 70% IE6 (internal stuff in insurance). But one day it will change all at once, for political reasons :)
I'm not sure you will see more than what you currently see on the long run...
Here's an old article that gets the message across in a client-friendly way:
The fact is, when doing client work I have a responsibility to design the site in a way that when their customer visits they get the information they need. If the website is broken, for whatever reason, that looks badly on my client and on me.
When I do a site I code and design for modern browsers. However, I make sure even IE6 users can get the information they need or order products or whatever the case is with the website.
True, the IE6 users are small in number, however in some cases they can make up an older or important demographic to a client.
Of course that means that if they insist on supporting older browsers not only that would mean a 30%-100% increase in price but new features the want afterwards will be more expensive as well (because you're supporting two different projects).
In reality, you may develop a website, then the client is visiting their uncle bob one weekend who has an old computer with IE6 lying around, client + uncle bob open up the website to have a look, and it is "broken".
Client then sends you a hate mail about broken contracts.
You reply saying that you discussed IE6 lameness before you started the work.
Client says you were talking jargon, client didn't understand, and you need to fix their website so it loads on their uncle bob's computer otherwise they are suing you for not delivering a working website.
Good luck with that :)
You can bet your ass that if your client suddenly decided to start using lynx exclusively for his browsing that he would suddenly become very stressed that his flash intro doesn't work :)
Reminds me of doing tech support for a web hosting company a few years ago.
Customer: "Our Website is down!"
Me: "Ok let me check.... Seems like it is up too me.."
Customer: "No it's definately down!"
It then transpires that their internet connection is not working at all and that they already knew this to be the case.
They were still concerned about how embarassing for them it was that their website was down because they had just handed out new business cards with the new URL on them.
And people think that us techies are the borderline autistic ones..
Best not to take any further work from that client again.
Users get an alert saying, "Use Firefox or Chrome. If you want to use IE and are upset that you can't, let us know."
Nobody has said anything about it.
I think so much depends on your audience. Our audience is writers using their own computer. They're happy to use Firefox and Chrome.
I only see IE6 support as a problem for people on corporate machines who don't control their own software.
You run a business, they run a business, and everyone is trying to make money. How much money do you think an IE6 user has? the browser is like a decade old. It's why we target iPhone and not Android in the mobile world. ( because iPhone users out spend android users. )
Tell your client the truth, tell them that you keep up to date on the latest trends and if they want to use someone else let them, and then tell them exactly what your work will do.
I would not even offer to support IE6 anymore. Maybe IE7. There are a few reasons.
#1 you can't download IE6 legally any more
#2 you can't install it legally on linux or mac systems to test.
#3 IE7 in quirks mode does not work exactly the same as IE6.
#4 web development for legacy browsers is less about building things, and more about working around problems. and i just don't find that fun.
It is your duty as a web professional to turn down this work. Microsoft does not even support his browser anymore.
#1 & 2 , Microsoft provide a free VM image of windows XP SP2 + IE6 specifically for IE6 testing. It's timebombed though so you do have to occasionally download a new one.
#4 Sometimes work isn't fun, if your in the business to make some money you've got to deal with that now and again.
It's your "duty" to build something that fits the clients requirements relative to the amount they pay you for it unless that involves something illegal or unethical and supporting IE6 is neither.
Which documents Microsoft's commitment to support IE6 until April 2014.
So your solution to the IE6 problem is to ignore it and to repeat the same mistake again for developers to have to deal with again in the future?
We have the IE6 problem because that's where the money was back in it's day. It was the winner of the browser war, and thus became the interface to the substantial source of profit. Very much like your perception of the iPhone.
What you need to consider is not just what's profitable right now, but what will be profitable tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and next decade. IE6 won the browser war; the iPhone browser is nowhere near that dominant in the mobile world.
We also were in the very good position of being able to turn down work, though, so it's easy to tell people off. I think it depends on your situation.
Idealistically though, it seems like a huge step backwards to bother supporting IE6. The more people that do, the worse the internet becomes as a whole because of it.
I think it's quite neat that unity let's you embed your game into a web page but I often wonder how many users change their minds once posed with the requirement of a plugin install since this is exactly the kind of thing that IT savvy people advise their less technical friends not to do!
Every clients/users should check this once : http://www.ie6countdown.com
Shame, it's a complete pig to develop for.
edit: They must look and behave more or less the same. Personally I have no qualms about the IE users not seeing rounded corners on some boxes. As long as they're in the same place and the same colour, etc.
What I find curious is that the de-duper apparently doesn't check for case differences in the URL encoded characters.
I'm guessing that an example of a client that would ask for IE6 support would be Car Mechanic shops that have CRT monitors and super old computers. And probably a corporation that can't upgrade all people at once and their secretaries don't know what a browser is.
The interesting part of the IE6 debacle isn't the fact that a legacy program is sticking around longer than we had hoped, it's how ridiculously strong the longevity of it is. Most likely IE6 marketshare will stay in the double digits in many countries long after the world has completely forgotten about VCRs.
US legal requirements for public sites are probably covered in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), under the provision of reasonable accommodations. So far legal rulings are varied and vague, swinging one way then the other about whether ADA applies to websites (despite a DOJ opinion that they do/should).
Some states have their own legislation, like California's Unruh Civil Rights Act which was used against Amazon (Target settled and agreed to make their website accessible).
Not at all. The few clients I've had who've said anything at all have been overwhelmingly positive about knowing exactly how much IE6 support would cost vs not.
That's one of the reasons we started implementing it as a second, simpler site, much cheaper, allows that number to go down even more.
Ask your customers if they got IE6 support as advice from someone.
Show how many people use it now and what that sliver of IE6 users now see with gracefully deprecating css libraries.
Great advice I got once.
Not feeling that at all, so speak for yourself. If I want to target a specific browser or device, I do it when it makes sense. Screw universality. The users install what I tell them to or they don't get the privilege of using my site or product. (Do you think Steve Jobs would disagree?)
People begged Apple for the ability to create real apps. The original plan was to build HTML apps, but comparing a web app to a native app was no comparison at all (and it still isn't; I hate almost all web view"apps").
The entire point of a website at it's core is to send and display pages of information, this isn't really a problem that should require specific versions of special software to solve.
With the exception of requiring quicktime for the videos the apple website has always rendered fine for me on pretty much any browser I have viewed it with.