About users and modern browsers

During one of the Q&A sessions we had at the Adobe WebUp #2 event I was surprised to see so many people defending quite aggressively the idea of building web sites/apps for the common denominator (in other words making sure that everything works in IE6).

Well, just to be clear there is nothing wrong with building a web site or application that supports IE6. What I think is wrong is when you get so comfortable with this mindset that you don’t even question the need of supporting IE6. And this is the very reason I was actually surprised to see defending the support for IE6 in the name of the user.

Just off the top of my head I can give you three simple examples where supporting old browsers doesn’t add any benefit:

  • You build a web site or application for enterprise or something that will be consumed behind a firewall. In this scenario you are free to choose whatever HTML features you want to use because you can control the web browser of the users. So you can enforce the use of modern browsers.
  • You build a mobile web site or application. Although there are stats suggesting that the mobile landscape is not only about iOS and Android, I think that for most businesses this is what they mean when talking about mobile web sites. Obviously both iOS and Android have great support for HTML5 and CSS3 features so you are “liberated” to use whatever you want.
  • Finally, you’re working on an existing project and the analytics you have suggest that your customers don’t use older browsers.
And even if your users demand support for older browsers maybe it is worth taking a look at some of the polyfills/shims/fallbacks for shiny new features available for older browsers and use progressive enhancement.

Am I wrong? Have you seen this in practice? Talk back!

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