Being able to develop for cross-browser compatibility is what separates the good web developers from the teach-yourself-to-get-by-at-a-job-interview web developers. That’s what the good web developers repeat back to themselves after spending extra time ensuring things work just as well on Internet Explorer 6 (IE6); precious time that wouldn’t have to be spent if you just ignored IE6.
If you are running a small site, you can choose to completely disregard what IE6 renders. You can also put up clever pop-ups and notifications that ridicule IE6, twisting the knife a little more with an additional Windows ME jab.
This post, however, is aimed at those of us who need to implement a consumer-friendly method for an enterprise-sized company that will not result in angry emails or Twitter/Facebook posts that can discredit a company’s image in no time.
The timing of this post coincides with my discovery of ie6countdown.com. I have seen my share of “IE 6 Must Die” sites, but this one actually belongs to Microsoft! If that doesn’t tell you it’s time to start thinking about a graceful way of jumping ship, you might as well make sure your site is compatible with Netscape 4.
I am not saying you need to jump ship now. In fact, a good friend of mine, Kai, that runs kaidez.com even lists out 5 Reasons To Design Websites for Internet Explorer 6.
The reality, however, is with every project you do, you will have to make sacrifices in your design and functionality. There are tools like Modernizr, which create a workaround for some styling with HTML5, but it will not restore missing functionality. There are no tools out there that restore missing functionality. If there are and I am missing something, please enlighten me with a comment.
The other reality aspect is that Microsoft is stopping support on it. This means that the small percentage of IE6 users that are using it in a corporate environment should be seeing upgrades very soon, as this is usually the final nudge that IT departments need to upgrade.
So, what your options to let users know it’s time to upgrade? More importantly, how do you it gracefully, as to not annoy your users or make your enterprise level site look like your first geocities website from 1996 with one of those animated under construction stick figures?
Requirements For a Good Notification Plugin
- Compatibility with IE6
- Color theme neutral.
- Licensed for commercial use.
- Allows cookies or a framework to add your own to only display the notification once, until cookies are cleared.
1. jReject (http://jreject.turnwheel.com/)
Description from developer’s site:
jReject provides a simple, robjust, light-weight way to display rejections based on a the browser, specific browser version, specific platforms, or rendering engine. Provides full customization of the popup. Uses no CSS file (by default), and can easily be used on page load or during a specific page event. Also provides a flexible way to beautifully and cleanly display custom browser alternatives in the popup.
You can use the closeCookie parameter, but it only stores it for the Session. This means that when the user comes back with a new window, it will show up again. You could easily write your own cookie handler by utilizing the optional event methods from the documentation -
- options.beforeReject(opts) - use this to call your function that will check the cookie. If cookie exists, cancel the display.
- options.afterReject(opts) - use this to to call your function that will set the cookie on first open.
2. IE6Update.com (http://ie6update.com/)
Description from developer’s site:
IE6 Update looks like IE’s Information Bar, but instead of offering your visitors an ActiveX plugin, it offers a browser update.
There are no custom events that you can pass in, but the way I would do it is call my custom cookie function from inside the .js file where it preps it up in the jQuery(document).ready(function($). If the cookie hasn’t been set, call it. If the cookie has been set, don’t. The HTML file has the “if lte 7″ check to make sure it’s the right browser, so you don’t have worry about unnecessary cookies being set in non-IE6 browsers. One other custom feature I would add is, instead of redirecting to a browser page, I would redirect them to a custom page where I give them download options and advise them to talk to their IT staff if they are in a corporate setting.
As you plan out your IE6 au-revoir, I would insert one more value-added task into project plan. Download IE9 if you haven’t already done so and do a diligent walkthrough of your site. Did you really think you were going to have one less browser to QA test?