Is It Time to "Just Say No" to Internet Explorer 6?

ie6nomore-logoAs web workers, sometimes we have to walk a fine line between keeping clients happy, and providing the best possible services. For web developers like me, the issue of whether to continue supporting Internet Explorer 6 (s msft) is becoming a major headache.

It would seem to be a no-brainer to ditch support for a browser that is slow, prone to malware attacks, and incompatible with modern standards. Those of us who design and maintain web sites have to resort to all sorts of time-consuming (thus expensive!) tricks to make the sites we create work with IE6 — a browser that is now almost nine years old.

Unfortunately, up to a quarter of web users still use IE6, and in big companies, the percentage is even higher. According to Forrester Research, “60 percent of companies use Internet Explorer 6 as their default browser.”

There have been a few “kill IE6” sites for a while, but a new one, “IE6 No More“, is getting attention thanks to some very high-profile backers. They’ve come up with some simple code for insertion into web sites that I think is prominent without being obnoxious.

My company is still discussing the issue, but it’s likely that we’ll offer clients a choice:

  • ignore IE6 altogether during testing for browser compatibility;
  • include the “IE6 No More” code, or something similar to it; or,
  • provide IE6 compatibility at a significant cost premium.

Even YouTube (s goog) is reported to be phasing out support for IE6. When some more major sites do the same, IE6 users may finally be forced to upgrade. In the meantime, though, the extra costs to provide IE6 compatibility are passed on to everyone. In this economic environment, when every dollar counts, corporations, nonprofit, employees, customers and taxpayers need to ask why money is being wasted on maintaining old browsers.

How do you deal with IE6 compatibility issues?