Support for Legacy Browsers

—  Posted on July 4, 2013  —

Is supporting old, outdated browsers a good idea?

When designing a website, we eventually come to the point where we have to decide what browsers we are going to support and how different (if at all) the user’s experience is going to be on a given browser. Unfortunately, no two browsers are alike, and that goes double for legacy browsers.

When it came to the point of testing my website, I began to wonder if optimizing for any legacy browsers is beneficial. Sure, the end-user can still see the page and go along their merry way, but at what cost? Using outdated software online is dangerous, and most users don’t know that their browser doesn’t support X Y Z or that it’s making them vulnerable to security risks. If their browser isn’t upgrading automatically, who is telling them?

Using outdated software online is dangerous.

Website designers and developers are the primary group of people who know how a browser can affect a user’s experience online. When I realized that, I felt I had to make a decision.

A. Support legacy browsers such as IE6, IE7, etc. or…
B. Cut off support for legacy browsers in an effort to educate my users.

I decided that “B” was the route I wanted to go. While I hope to use my website as a networking tool, education is still a big part of the experience I want to deliver. We all desperately want people to be early adopters of new browsers, and we loath creating hacks and bug fixes for old browsers. The question I asked myself was “Are the users I may lose worth slowing down the progress of new standards on the web?” I think the answer will be different for each site you develop, but for a site whose primary audience is people in the web industry, I think it’s a no-brainer.

Here is what users with less than IE8 will see when visiting my site:


<!--[if lt IE 8 ]>
   <div id="switch">
      <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/wp-content/themes/mm/img/common/switch.png" alt="Switch to a Modern Browser" /></a>

Caleb McGuire

I'm a husband, father and musician living just a little east of the wonderful Twin Cities. I've been designing pretty things for over 10 years.

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