Stop Nagging Your IE Users. They Get It Already

This week, that grand old bane of a Web developer’s existence—IE6—turned 12 years old. Like any tween, it has been subjected to bullying over the years. A year an a half ago, Microsoft finally took the step toward beating it to death by forcing updates to IE8. And they were widely successful. I go months both here on my little slice of the ‘net and on larger sites maintained by my employer without seeing IE6 pop up in the logs.

So, we’ve turned our attention to bullying its younger sibling, IE7, which turns 7 in October.  Again, those users should have been upgraded to IE9 as part of the Microsoft push, but a few computers still linger. We continue to bully. Some of us even go after four-year-old IE8 when it tantrums over our attempts to use CSS3 and HTML5 (or are we throwing those tantrums?).

Our favorite tactic seems to be telling users to update their browser with imposing messages (standard in templates like HTML5 Boilerplate directing them to Some people go farther to redirect to a special page entirely (*cough Jeff Starr*).

Why do we do this? Sure, it’s great to not have to do ugly things to our code to make those browsers display beautiful designs, particularly when our clients won’t listen to why websites don’t need to look the same in every browser.

It’s awesome to have fewer configurations to support for web applications.

We get to show off and go on a power trip, yelling “mwahaha, I refuse to bow to your ancient browser demands, I am all powerful, and I decide what you should use.”

But, what we don’t consider in these decisions is the user.

After more than half a decade, and after Microsoft has tried forcing upgrades, we have to ask why these users are still accessing our sites with browsers that should be a distant memory.

The reason is likely that they have to. For one reason or another (options too myriad to list here) they HAVE to use those browsers. It’s highly unlikely that a user on IE6 or IE7 doesn’t realize that they are using an outdated browser at this point in 2013.

So, why are we bullying our visitors? Why are we telling them that every time they visit our site that we think they don’t deserve to read our content because they have an old browser?

Other than attempting to alienate visitors, I can’t come up with an answer to that.

I’m not saying that we need to care if the design is broken (we don’t). I’m not even sure we need to care if interaction is half-broken. But we should care that our visitors have been reminded about using an old browser countless times yet they continue to do so, and that ultimately they just want to access our content.

So, why not let them access the information we’re providing without reminding them that they are second-class internet citizens? Really, what do you have to lose?

N.B. Yes, I know, pot, kettle, black. I have one of those notices on this very site. I’ve been running this design for over four years now, and a lot has changed in the landscape since then (I think those notices may have been valuable before Microsoft’s auto update move), but my lack of time to set up a redesign has not. Moving forward, though, I’ll be practicing what I post.

Raving About Changes

Much has been happening recently, not that it is evident by my posting schedule here. (That is, being busy doesn’t decrease my update frequency when posts are so rare anyway.) The biggest change is that I recently relocated to Burlington, VT to start a new job. Still a Web Dev—and actually really a Front-end Dev with none of that pesky backend work—but on an entirely different playing field.

I can’t say how that will affect this little piece of Internet real estate. It probably won’t much (see comment about post frequency above). But I did want to share a bit of professional development with you.

My new company is crazy about creating raving fans. They never directly referenced it, but I have a feeling this tenet of their philosophy has origins in the early-90s book Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service. Coincidentally, I happened upon a copy that Carl owns when we were boxing up our house.

It was a quick read, but really too cutesy-parable for my taste. It could have been condensed to a blog post shorter than this one, but of course that doesn’t turn into money (and such a thing didn’t even exist in 1993).

So, in short, to create a raving fan you:

Create a vision of what you want to provide, so clear you can see it vividly when you close your eyes.

Find out what your customers (or potential customers) want.

Find a way to make your vision mesh with what your customers want, but don’t be afraid to tell them to look elsewhere if they expect something that is beyond the scope of your vision.

Always deliver more than what they expect, consistently. Always work to better your delivery, a little bit at a time.

Once you do, that raving fan will go out and evangelize for you.

My goal for 2013 Q3 is to get a great start in my new position by creating raving fans of my work.

Do you strive to create raving fans?