September 9, 2009

Do you use Internet Explorer?

Can I politely ask you to upgrade?

Could you please download, install and start using Firefox 3 or Google Chrome? Please?
Why am I asking? What has sparked this?

Well, the spark has been a blazing inferno for quite some time, and this post has been well overdue, but today really is the day I need to publish my thoughts on this.

Here's an email I've just sent to a client, explaining why they couldn't view some rich content on their website. This will explain why.

Hi XXXXX - I have made a compromise to make sure the site loads.

Here's where the problem ultimately lies - and it's well known and documented:
Your version of Internet Explorer had trouble loading flash video (Youtube). I had a Youtube video in the XXXXXX article, but alas its caused you problems loading the site, so I had to take it out. I've just put a link there instead. A shame, really. But this is not YOUR fault.

Your website displays perfectly in EVERY other web browser, including the display of Flash video (like Youtube), widgets and other great modern web features. The most dominant browser is Internet Explorer 6 (just over 40% of all PC users use it) and is the only browser that has issues with modern web features. Problem is, that most computer users either don't know they should upgrade, or can't because their IT dept prevent them. Not surprisingly this puts a stranglehold on moving forward. So much so, that a lot of website developers and software companies now do NOT support Internet Explorer 6 or earlier versions when they develop their code. Its a movement designed to push Microsoft to fix their browser, or be left behind.
Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) was developed in 2001, with an update (IE7) in 2006. Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) was released this year, and still has issues with basic things like website dropdown menus, or flash video, but does work a damn sight better than IE6. History of Internet Explorer [link]

And this is why its a shame I had to take the video off the XXXXXX article. Your website *could* be more content rich, but with Microsoft letting you down, you, me and every other Internet Explorer user misses out. There are workarounds, but these are time consuming, and generally slow the web browsing experience, which is never a good tradeoff. I loaded our site on my Internet Explorer here at home and I saw the same issue.

I'm happy to say that 25% of your website visitors use Firefox 3, and another 10% use Safari (on Mac) - both display the site (and rich content) perfectly. At the office, I use 5 different web browsers to check compatibility - Firefox 3, Safari (for Windows), Google Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer 8.

The quicker people upgrade, the better their experience will be. For example, we are trying to push people who visit XXXXXXX website to upgrade their browser if it detects they are using a browser older than 5 years. The site doesn't display rich content features if its an old browser - and they miss out. It's a fair call.v>

Anyway, I will leave it there - but I feel its important you know that when I am developing new web things - even publishing a simple article, THESE are the issues faced and considered every time. The problems often aren't found until pointed out through a bad user experience. Hopefully each is fixed early enough to avoid further frustration, but every day there's always the uncertainty of something else not working correctly, simply because of a badly built browser.

One other main reason for upgrading - is internet security. If your browser is not the latest version, you are at risk of a computer attack, or worse, personal attack. That's the truth.

UPGRADE LINKS - in order of preference

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