Say goodbye to IE6, everyone

As a company, Coast Digital will no longer be supporting IE6 by default. We are of course being pragmatic about how we enforce this new rule: if we update an existing website with a new section or widget, we will still ensure it renders correctly in IE6. But clients who insist on IE6 support for new projects may have that added as a separate line item on the Project Definition Document.

At the time of my last post on this subject, almost three years ago, IE6 still had 15.4% share of the market, according to the W3Schools stats page. That figure has now fallen to below 2% and we at Coast Digital have decided to stop supporting it (not before time, I hear you say.)

We web designers loved IE6 when it first came out eleven years ago (yes, eleven!). It was great; it allowed us to do so much more than you could with Netscape, which was the only alternative worth considering at the time (we could argue all day about Microsoft’s flawed implementation of web standards and the complications that that brought about, but that isn’t the subject of this post.) As time passed, however, Microsoft got complacent and IE6 hung around for too long before it was updated, by which time two other browsers had come along.

And that’s when the real fun started: yes, Opera and Firefox were standards compliant and you could do loads of CSS layout tricks with them. The problem was that IE6 was still being used by about half of all web users and left you with a conundrum: how much extra work were you willing to do to both make your new website perform its new tricks and at the same time support the other half of web users on IE6? The answer for most time-poor web agencies was to play safe and stick with what worked best for everyone thus to a certain extent limiting their creativity by dumbing down certain features of their site.

I’ve always argued that you don’t really need to leave out IE6 when building web frontends – as long as your code is clean and standards-compliant, most elements can be built to work in all browsers, with perhaps just a few lines of code in a separate IE6 style sheet. But I won’t pretend that I’m not looking forward to the prospect of being able to design something a bit tricky and not have to worry about it taking up unnecessary studio time at the build stage.

And IE7, don’t think we’re not looking forward to seeing the back of you, too.