Open letter to developers: The IE6 Death Blow

The old school developers will remember, and for the new ones, a quick history lesson. In the 1990s, Netscape Navigator (Mozilla rendering engine) was the dominant browser. It “had a few bugs”, and as a result, when Internet Explorer started playing catch-up, there were a lot of reasons to start using IE instead of Netscape. Towards the end of the paradigm shift, we all started doing something deemed unacceptable by todays standards. The dreaded “Your browser is not supported” page.

I stand before you today suggesting the unified stabbing of IE6’s heart on May 1st, 2008. To some, this is an obscene gesture, but before you go with the crowd mentality, I beg of you to continue reading and hear me out.

Think about how many hours you’ve spent in the last 7 years making exceptions in your art. In some cases, even compromising your entire thought pattern just to account for IE6. That day is coming to an end. IE7 has been released with decent, although not perfect, standards support. It will soon be time to deliver the death blow to IE6.

The death blow I’m suggesting is not as dramatic as I make it sound. I know the standards purists are having a fit reading this right now, but fear not… IE6 will still be able to view your website under my plan.

What I’m suggesting is this: We use a standard corner spanning banner in the top left of our websites, displayed only to IE6, explaining that IE6 and less are not supported on the site, and the visitor may not see the site as intended. That’s it. Then, when building your next site, don’t concern yourself with whether or not IE6 supports your use of web standards.

Although the method is different from the Netscape Navigator migration, the thought pattern is the same. It takes time and costs money to support a browser that is behind the times. Instead of blocking all of your content, however, you simply serve the user a suggestion. The idea is to encourage them to either upgrade to IE7, or switch to an alternative, standards supporting web browser.

I’ve chosen May 1st because it’s the date of the CSS Reboot, a concept that is semi popular among standards compliant web developers. The goal of the CSS Reboot is to encourage a fresh design on May 1st. I’m suggesting that we all add this banner and drop IE6 support on that day. May 1st, 2008.

The Banner

Adding the banner to your site is simple. Remember, even though May 1st is the suggested date, you can do this at any time. Add the following code to your website, just inside of the body tag.

<!--[if lte IE 6]>
<style>
#unsupported {
    position: absolute;
    top: 0;
    left: 0;
    width: 155px;
    height: 47px;
    background: transparent url(https://www.mentallyretired.com/unsupported.gif) center center no-repeat;
}
#unsupported a {
    display: block;
    width: 155px;
    height: 47px;
    text-decoration: none;
    text-indent: -9999px;
    font-size: 0.1em;
}
</style>
<p id="unsupported">
    <a href="http://www.mentallyretired.com/unsupported.html">CAUTION:  Your browser is no longer supported by this website.  See it as intended.  Click here.</a>
</p>
<![endif]-->

That’s it… that’s the concept. It’s not too intrusive, but in my opinion, it’s time to stop wasting money and time on IE6, and time to advance in the world of web standards.

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