IE6 is Just Not That Important Anymore (And Other Thoughts on Life)

Just last week I was quietly reflecting on the past decade while on a lengthy train ride. It’s common for me to reflect on past, present, and future trends. As an aspiring young leader, I often marvel at the accomplishments our society continues to make with each passing year.

This particular thought session was dedicated to my choice to begin building web sites nearly a decade ago. Since then, things have really changed. We saw the transition from the World Wide Web to the so-called “Web 2.0” and the rise of social media. These days, those topics are highly publicized. (think “The Social Network”) What is less publicized yet deserves equal attention, however, is the web browser.

In the past decade, the web browser has evolved from a necessary evil of the dot-com bubble to an isolated comfort of the “always-on” society. What used to be the only method of accessing the Internet has gave way to mobile/smart phones and tablets. Yet, despite this change, we continue to improve the web browser. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is synonymous with these improvements. Internet Explorer used to be one of the most buggy and risky web browsers around. It’s always been a tricky case, especially for web designers.

All too often, web designers fret over the perils of a web site’s compatibility with different versions of Internet Explorer. IE7, for example, differs starkly from its predecessor, IE6. They spend countless hours developing infamous fixes and numerous workarounds to account for this difference. They want everyone to be happy.

The truth, however, is not so Utopian. You simply cannot please everyone. Having worried about the differences between IE6 and its successors for a long time, I began to wonder – was it really worth all this effort? After all, aren’t we as a society, supposed to move forward and embrace new trends? I concluded that these worries we’re hindering my progress, and soon after this realization, adopted a starkly contrarian approach to the issue. To hell with IE6, I said – the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome all support Web 2.0-style programming. They render pages properly, as they should.

But what about the so-called “market-share” of Internet users who still use IE6? The latest online trends require the use of a recently-updated browser in order to function properly, prompting many of these rough-riders to make the move to IE7/8 or a different browser altogether. And as these demographics change, so too should your mind. Think of yourself, an Internet guru, as a pioneer of new technology. Encourage the move of users to a modern browser and do not appease those who refuse to do so. The result may very well put us further on the path towards a more Utopian Internet.