The web is for everyone, even those on IE6

Over the last few weeks the lay person has seen the failings of IE6 discussed openly in the non tech press. The security holes that were to blame for the Google hack have led to discussion about it’s sluggish performance, incompatibility with the latest coding standards, and Microsoft’s slow update cycles.

For someone who works in “the business”, these gripes are common territory. I don’t think a week goes by that a member of our development team doesn’t complain about IE6. And, more to the point, every month or so we start into discussion about why we still make all our sites compatible back to 6. Typically the arguments that we should stop supporting that particular browser stem from a completely understandable frustration. One of the guys once said something along the lines of:

There is nothing that you work with on a daily basis that slows you down, and causes you as many headaches as IE6 does for me.

He’s right, and if there was such a headache, I’d probably complain too. In my defence I point out that this doesn’t include Search, just Docs and Sites; when people visiting Google.com in IE6 are refused entry, then we’ll know the tides really have turned.

Moaning about IE6 within the development community can take a more sinister turn. Take for example the Tyler Thompson’s footer, this reeks of the kind of designer/developer elitism that really pisses me off. Okay, he may well be doing this for effect, he’s the creative director at Squarespace so he probably knows how to play to his fans; but it demonstrates a good point. A lot of developers probably think that people using IE6 are stupid, fat and have shit laptops. A sentiment I’d have eradicated if it were up to me.

The IE6 issue boils down to one thing, accessibility. People who are still using IE6 aren’t doing themselves any favours. They need to be educated about the problems associated with it and encouraged to try something different. However, that doesn’t mean vilify them and exclude them from use of the web.

I want to make websites that everyone can use. Better still I want to make websites that the likes of Tyler Thompson would be impressed by, and the likes of my Mum can still use with ease, irrespective of the browser she’s running.

Daniel Bower

Product manager turned student. Currently researching algorithms, platforms, interoperability and kill zones at DDH. Read more about me.