Again?

The Email Standards Project launched an impressive campaign via Twitter yesterday called “Fix Outlook“. As of this morning, over 21,000 people have chimed in and offered up their support. But Microsoft still doesn’t care. I say ‘still’ because their decision to switch to using Word as the rendering engine for Outlook was isn’t new. (It was actually switched in Outlook 2007.) But the fact that Microsoft went ahead and kept this change in for Outlook 2010 has People were pretty vocal about the switch back then too. Read More

IE8 Blacklist: forcing standards rendering opt-in. Just when you think Microsoft might get it right with IE8, they do something retarded like automatically adding to-level domains to a “standards blacklist”. Standards mode should be on by default. If people are lazy enough to put something out there that only works in IE or is generally hacked together, the onus should be on them to add the meta tag forcing compatibility with IE7-mode.

Death to IE6?

Is the decision to end support Internet Explorer 6 premature or long overdue?

There is no doubt that Internet Explorer 6 is the bane of our – web designers and developers – existence. Nathan Smith came up with ten great reasons in “Time to Drop IE6”. Dan Rubin offered “The Final Word on IE6”. 37signals, effective 10.1.2008, is phasing out IE6 support in its products. They all offer good reasons to end support for IE6. But we cannot ignore the reality of IE6: usage hovers around 25-30% as of 9.08 (1,2).

Can we truly ignore IE6? Could you afford to turn away 1/4-1/3 of the customers that walk through your door? I’m guessing most clients would say no.

So where does that leave us? Are we destined to support IE6 for years and years to come? I seriously hope not, but it all depends on your audience. If your site is catering to people most likely to be using modern browsers like Firefox 3, Safari, Opera, Camino, Chrome, IE7/8, etc., then it probably doesn’t matter if your site supports IE6. If your site trends towards a lot of IE6 users, well… you’re obviously going to have to support that browser until usage drops below a tolerable level. At which point, it would then be wise to make a decision on whether to support it any longer. (We have these same conversations regarding minimum browser resolutions to target.) The client and the client’s audience and what they are using on your site is what dictates what you should be designed for.

The idea of using ‘web standards’ isn’t so that designers can make kick ass designs that only the most bleeding edge browsers can render. Rather they’re more about making content viewable in any browser, regardless of its age.

The logical decision, then, is to use progressive enhancement in designs. If a site visitor is still using IE6, they should be able to see, at the very least, a “low-fi” version of your site. If there are only minor issues preventing a layout from rendering properly in IE6, take the time to write some conditional CSS targeting the browser, and fix it.

The challenge with progressive enhancement lies in educating a client that there will be variations in the design presented to site visitors. For some clients, variations are unacceptable. For others, they’re likely not going to care.

Maybe by March 2009 the browser share will change radically, and IE6 usage will drop to record lows. But I’m staying realistic. I might not like IE6 or the extra work it requires to support it, but it’s too early to start ignoring it completely.


Footnotes:

  1. w3schools – Browser Statistics
  2. w3Counter – Global Web Stats

What are web standards and why should you use them? That’s what Opera’s new Web Standards Curriculum hopes to answer. If you’re interested in learning more, visit: http://www.opera.com/wsc/ They’ve got 23 articles available already and an additional 30 planned.

A step in the right direction

The news that IE8 will now display pages in “Standards” mode, instead of requiring designers/developers to force it… is music to my ears. Granted, it wasn’t that big a deal to use a META tag to force the rendering, as originally proposed… But it IS nice to see that Microsoft is taking web standards more seriously with this new approach.

Big Day for Microsoft

MicrosoftToday was a big day for Microsoft. First, IE Desktop Online Web Browser Live Professional Ultimate Edition for the Internet aka IE8 passed the Acid2 Test. Secondly, the Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate is now in the wild.

I’m more excited about the IE8 news, to be honest. Having IE8 passing the Acid Test could mean less trouble for web designers/developers in the future. Sure, IE6 and IE7 won’t go away anytime soon, but if Microsoft were to push the browser as a critical update, it might see widespread adoption fairly quickly.

Email Standards Project

Email Standards ProjectWhat the Web Standards Project did for the web, the Email Standards Project hopes to do for email. This new initiative, which launched today (11.28.07 @ 10am, Sydney Australia time) is one I fully support. HTML Email can serve a legitimate purpose, and it’s about time this sort of advocacy took place. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating the ESP team on their launch and in supporting the ESP any way you can in the future.

Wondering why we need standards support in HTML email? Learn More