If you are an Internet Explorer user, please, please, please, update your browser.

On a recent project, I spent considerable time trying to get the layout and controls of the site to work when viewed through Internet Explorer 6. Why did I feel this was important? Statistics show that a major portion of the web users are viewing online content using IE. Estimates run anywhere from 60% to 85% of users. Statistics vary, because no one group or organization can possibly gather data for all users, however, taking many popular sites and averaging their statistics can give you a pretty fair idea. Of the 60-85% of users that view the web with IE, a large portion still seem to be using IE version 6. This is a bad thing… a very bad thing. Why?

Simply put, IE 6 is not standards conforming. The W3C has set forth standards for the underlying code on web pages. This helps to ensure that content and data can be universally rendered and understood. Although IE6 does largely conform to the standards of HTML and CSS, very often it simply ignores rules and therefore nasty flaws in its rendering engine are revealed when viewing certain combinations of standards-compliant code. For examples, see here: http://www.positioniseverything.net/explorer.html

Tips and tricks exist to avoid most of the bugs, but seriously, should web developers be expected to side-step standards to support users that continue to use buggy software that is 8 years old (released in 2001) and is now two versions behind the latest? More importantly, money is regularly wasted in the time spent to ensure that a site or front-end to a web application can be properly viewed in IE6. If you are a web developer, how much time do you spend ensuring that IE 6 users can view your site? You might be surprised by the answer.

Internet Explorer is now up to version 8. Thankfully, this version finally takes the approach of adhering closely to the W3C’s standards. If you are an IE user, (and this post was not intended to spark that debate), please, make everyone’s life easier and update your browser.