The reality is that you may well have to deal with the issues mentioned in the previous entry, and more, when trying to make your site work in IE. Many businesses have standardized to “Microsoft only” and use Internet Explorer as their default browser, despite well-known security risks associated with doing so. Even worse, many institutions have built their websites solely to the features of IE6, to such a degree that upgrading to a browser that attempts to follow standards – even browsers like IE8 – breaks the website.
In most cases you can at least attempt to convince the client to upgrade their browser, if they choose to stick with IE: even IE7 is better than IE6. You may also be able to build an argument for dropping site support for IE6 based on market share statistics.
Please keep in mind that web browser market share numbers are notoriously imprecise: different sites will draw different types of audiences, and thus a different array of browsers. Ultimately, the only way to have any degree of certainty is to look at the server logs for your own website, or to use a tool like Google Analytics. Of course, those techniques only provide information once your website is up and running.
Personally, I refuse to develop for IE6. The browser is now a decade old, represents less than 2% of visitors to this site, and is not worth the time and associated stress to develop for, at least to me. An increasing number of companies agree with me. However, you may not have that choice… and the client will always expect the site to appear perfectly in whatever browser they use, including IE6.
Even if you do convince the client to drop support for IE6, you should still provide a path for users of the browser to view and use the site. Blocking your website to particular browsers is not the way forward. My personal recommendations:
- IE6 Update prompts the user to update their browser in an unobtrusive manner that is familiar and supportive for Windows users.
- Alternatively, ChromeFrame is a browser extension for Internet Explorer developed by Google that replaces the browser’s rendering engine, allowing IE to follow web standards, as well as adding comprehension of HTML5 and CSS3. (Expanding on my earlier analogy, this might be compared to giving IE a brain transplant).
If the client is absolutely adamant in her support of IE, or if the audience numbers demand supporting the browser, you should add the extra demanded time to your contracted hours to develop the website. As a very rough heuristic:
- Supporting IE6 and later increases the development time of a website from 50 ~ 100%, depending on design and features.
- Supporting IE7 or higher, and ignoring IE6, adds 20 ~ 25% to estimated development time.
- Supporting IE8 only and disregarding earlier versions adds 10%.