Should we be supporting older browsers?

Do you think designers should only support the modern browsers, or is it important to give everyone a great viewing experience?

So what do you think? Do you agree with me, or am I being unrealistic about how easy it is to support older browsers? Let me know in the comments below.

  • davidyell

    Hell no.
    If we must drive the web forward by dragging the slackers by their hair then so be it.
    Then again, I hate having to spend hours doing browser specific code, so I’m biased, quite biased, very biased.

  • Julia Thorne

    I’m not a web developer, so I can’t comment on the ins-and-outs of compatibility, but once a browser developer is no longer supporting an older version of their browser, then site developers shouldn’t be expected to cater for them either.

  • Julia Thorne

    I’m not a web developer, so I can’t comment on the ins-and-outs of compatibility, but once a browser developer is no longer supporting an older version of their browser, then site developers shouldn’t be expected to cater for them either.

  • http://twitter.com/super_mingo Matt Alderson

    I agree completely, if the website was built nicely and properly in the first place, getting it to work in older browsers is fairly easy, it can sometimes be a pain and add up to a good few more hours on the clients bill that may not be needed if people viewing their site use the newer browsers.

    one could argue the need for this extra support on existing site where you can tell the usage of such bad browsers, but new sites are hard to judge.

    (I normally fix down to IE7 (to a decent – not great – viewing exp) on all projects, only go lower if I’m specifically asked to.)

  • http://twitter.com/super_mingo Matt Alderson

    I agree completely, if the website was built nicely and properly in the first place, getting it to work in older browsers is fairly easy, it can sometimes be a pain and add up to a good few more hours on the clients bill that may not be needed if people viewing their site use the newer browsers.

    one could argue the need for this extra support on existing site where you can tell the usage of such bad browsers, but new sites are hard to judge.

    (I normally fix down to IE7 (to a decent – not great – viewing exp) on all projects, only go lower if I’m specifically asked to.)

  • http://twitter.com/rob_smith Rob Smith

    This isn’t an easy question to answer.

    Take for instance Firefox vs Chrome vs Latest IE – they all still have varying support for the newest stuff out there, so far do you take the ‘older browsers’ discussion?

    The way we work with clients is a combo of:

    - Analytics on their current site: who is visiting from what browsers

    - How much they are OK with progressive enhancement / basic experience for others

    - Whether they are prepared to pay for IE6 compatibility (as an example)

    We have some clients who have such a corporate market that they still have to be IE6 tested and supported.

    We have some clients that don’t care about 6 and 7 because they make no dent in their stats.

    We have clients who need educating.

    We have clients that say they must have IE6 until they see the price, then suddenly it’s less important.

    No one answer, and, I fear, this is moving target. IE 5.5 doesn’t come up anymore and IE6 will eventually go this way, but then IE7 or even 8 will be the new nemesis. Moving target!

  • http://twitter.com/tomhermans tomhermans

    “just build it in a right way”
    like HTML5 semantic syntax, the proper box-sizing model, responsive with media queries, css3 addons for rounded corners, gradients etc. instead of images (also better for retina devices) and SVG’s also for better icons in regards towards mobile & retina devices

    Let’s see how well it looks in IE6-7-8 ..

    Push the web forward.
    Give them a reasonable experience, but don’t spend time on it. Every hour spent on those crap browsers who can’t be bothered to auto-update, or for users who are to lazy to change to a good browser for free, is time wasted. And it is EFFECTIVELY holding the web back. Think of all those hours you spent on those things, and think you could’ve used those to perfect your knowledge in, let’s say jQuery, or Ruby, or PHP, or node.js..

    Quit making a fuss out of it, and just put a sticker on top in a conditional that they’d better upgrade. You’re holding the web back, you’re holding yourself back.

  • http://twitter.com/Valstorm Valstorm

    I think it’s important that your client’s *target audience* has the best viewing experience, everything else is a bonus. If that audience just so happens to be using an outdated browser; you should not be afraid to charge extra for the optimisation.

    Analytics data is useful for this providing that the audience is already established.

    Do I personally optimise my own projects for older browsers? No that’s just silly because you and I (being the technophiles that we are) fall into the category of my target audience – it would be safe to say you’re probably using the latest Firefox or Chrome ;P (maybe Opera if you’re a hipster or something).

    A seasoned front-end developer should have the experience, gained from years of hardship, to know which features and CSS techniques will be ‘safe’ for the semi-retired browser versions and still provide a great viewing experience in the adolescent versions.

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re not writing poetry, not sculpting masterpieces and not mixing paints on canvas. Many of us are simply one half of a business arrangement, pardon my cynicism, but we’re selling a service and the demand dictates the result.

  • jimsilverman

    there’s no choice here. it’s not about whether or not you should support older browsers, but rather whether or not your users are running older browsers in significant numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/kevangilbert Kevan Gilbert

    Older isn’t the same as “obsolete.” If it ain’t being used, don’t support it. If it is being used, especially by your main people, support it

  • http://twitter.com/devilskitchen devilskitchen

    People do compare browsers: many of those using IE7 in a corporate environment will access their company’s website from home, using Firefox or Chrome. That is not too much of an issue.

    However, when you are comping Photoshop mock-ups of the customer’s site (let’s leave aside whether we should design in the browser for now), should you present the IE version—or should you present the “modern” browser version? Or do you do both…?

    DK

  • http://twitter.com/dougoftheabaci Doug Stewart

    It’s a question of the law of diminishing returns. You could actually support absolutely everyone, within reason, with enough time and effort. However, as the browsers get older your costs start to increase disproportionally to the number of users who benefit.

    Sometimes it’s worth it, though. Sometimes it’s so easy to get things to look and function perfectly in those older browsers. In which case, sure. Sometimes, however, it’s not.

    A new tactic I’m starting to take is a more situational approach to browser support. I think of it as a sort of points system for browser support. Say you start at zero and assign numerical values to your priorities. Say you care more about keeping costs down to providing a more homogeneous experience. You might give costs 5 points and UX 2 points. Then when you look at the feature you want to support in a browser, is it hard to implement? Yes? -5pts. Would it greatly effect UX? A little but not much? +1pt. You end up with a score of -4pts for that feature in that browser. No support. Or maybe it’s relatively easy but not dead simple? +3pts for a score of +5 in which case you do support that feature in that browser.

    I like this practice because it takes the question of over-all browser support off the table and allows you to vary what you support, where and how. It saves time and money on those features you don’t care about (like getting your ToS page looking flawless across every browser as opposed to just readable).

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