53

It's no secret at all that IE6 has been a major roadblock to the advancement of the web over the last few years. I couldn't count the number of hours I've spent bashing my head against a wall trying to fix or debug IE6 issues.

The way I see it, there are two types of IE6 user. a) the poor corporate schmoe whose IT department doesn't want to upgrade in case something breaks, and b) the mums and dads of the world who think the internet is the blue E on their desktop (and I don't mean that in a nasty way).

There's probably a couple of people who know about all the other browsers, but still choose to run IE6. They get what they deserve, IMO.

Anyway, getting to the point, I'd say that 90% of my IE6-using visitors are in the the mums and dads category - they're not stupid, they just don't know WHY they should upgrade to IE7 or Firefox or whatever. How do I educate these people without pissing them off?

Is there a nice and friendly website I can direct these people to, which explains the reasons for upgrading in plain language? Any mention of "security" or "web standards" I think would just come across as scary.


I've just seen http://www.whatbrowser.org which seems to fit the bill nicely. It explains in very basic terms:

  • what a web browser is
  • why you'd want to upgrade it
  • how old your current browser is (subtle hint to those with a 9 year old browser)

..aaaand it's in 22 languages. It's from Google but displays no bias (it links to Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer displayed in a random order).

Edit: Would you believe it... it doesn't work in IE6. (on Win XP SP2)

58 accepted

It may sound disappointing, but I don't think you can.

Most people of the category you talk about are more than happy if their computer is not "broken", so any change to it that they have to do by themselves scares them. Even an additional or changed icon on the desktop scares them, let alone a new UI (tabbed browsing etc.).

The mere fact that there are other "browsers" available usually comes as a surprise for most of them. This puts you in a kind of a losing position. ;-)

So you're in the hands of the hopefully tech-head son to do it for them on your behalf. If they don't have one, you are out of luck. They sure as hell wont go to "Windows Update" and check the "Recommended Updates" section.

36

"Call your son and tell him to update your internets"

15

You can use a large red banner at the top of each page that urge the user to upgrade and allow them to close it or ignore it.
Below it your site should work as normal (or in degraded mode but still be functional).

The point is that you can't force people to upgrade: they may have no control over their machine, for various good reasons.

Chances are that if they go to your site, they expect it to work. Be kind and nice to them and do your duty to inform them but don't ruin their experience or they may never come back.

I know it would greatly annoy me if I was stuck using a public coffee-shop PC and I was chided for using IE6.

9

One very explicit metaphore I have used is BrowseSad.com. Its a bunch of scripts that makes your website black and white (using IE's incredibly useful filter: css thingie) when viewed in IE6. It also takes care of helping users upgrade.

6

There's another major roadblock to moving to IE6 if your users work in large enterprises. Most of these enterprises' IT divisions have their own update centers and they decide when to push new updates in. Moreover, they sometimes even forbid updating some applications. That's if their users even have permissions to install anything on their PCs.

Anyway, in this case, there's nothing much you can do but wait it out. IE8 will be with us before IE6 is anywhere near gone.

6

"This site works best with Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla Firefox 3" in clear view someplace. Or perhaps "This site may not function correctly in browsers other than IE7/Firefox3."

Beyond that, you can't, and in my mind shouldn't, do anything more to require your users move to a different browser. The idea that they need to switch their browsing experience to accommodate what you're paid to do is rather arrogant IMO (if you're not getting paid for this then it's a different story, in which case I'd simply exclude those users who don't run up to date browsers.)

The nature of the web developer's work, unfortunate as it is, includes managing the multiple browsers that travel the internet. Yes, it's a big pain; but that's the challenge. As a user who frequents web tools written in a fashion that only IE works more often than not, I sympathize with your users: if I can avoid using a tool that depends on some specific browser to accomplish something, I will do so. As a developer, it's your responsibility (and should be a personal goal) to avoid the situation where you lose users for reasons that you can, with effort, work around.

3

They may think there's a cost involved in upgrading. So, try and emphasize the fact that it's free and that it will also automatically migrate their bookmarks and etc. for them -- for free. :)

3

Microsoft's own advice about upgrading to IE7 is unlikely to do the trick. It's hardly encouraging:

Will Internet Explorer 7 work with the websites I visit?

The vast majority of websites work with Internet Explorer 7. In some cases, however, websites may not display properly when viewed with Internet Explorer 7.

Internet Explorer 6 has been around for a long time, and website developers took special steps to make their sites display properly in that version of the web browser. Sometimes, those steps involved "hacks" that don't work with Internet Explorer 7, resulting in pages that appear broken when viewed with the new browser. That being said, Internet Explorer 7 was in beta for more than a year, and has been available to the public since October 2006. Many sites that were broken in Internet Explorer 7 back in October 2006 now work just fine.

Even if a site that is important to you does not work in Internet Explorer 7, that's no reason to continue using Internet Explorer 6?the security improvements introduced in the new version are too important. If there is a problem, you can use a Microsoft program called the User Agent String Utility to fool sites into recognizing your browser as Internet Explorer 6. You can get the utility from the Download Center on the Microsoft website. I also suggest you contact the owners of the broken website to let them know of the problem.

Pull the other one! It's got bells on.

3

There is of course the not-recommended way: use a security bug in IE6 to install IE7 :)

2

I would display something unobtrusive yet very noticeable letting them know they're using an unsupported browser. Provide a link to one of your pages that has more info. Be concise, to the point, and provide a simple explanation.

And the key here is to provide a direct link to where they can upgrade.

2

It's best to simply stop working specifically to get your page to display correctly on IE6.

Get rid of all the fancy features. Just plain, black text an a plain white background, and a message on top asking them to upgrade their browser to view the full version of this page.

1

How about using CSS, PNG and JS speed as incentives?

Wouldn't it be great if we could construct a real simple, static site that says in a large font, with as few words and links as possible, what to do.

In some linked pages we could show them what they are missing out of.

  • A visually pleasing CSS demo with a screenshot of how it should work and under that the real IE-ed page. A great demo would be Meyer's distorted page.
  • A page (again visually pleasing) with an image of what a real browser makes of an SVG image of animation with again under that what IE makes of it.
  • And a page that demonstrates how slow JS is in IE. Don't know how we can make that non-technical though.

But most of all, a cover with "Don't Panic" in big friendly letters

1

Depends a lot on the site, of course, and this may not be an option at all, but how about simply not bothering to fix all the IE6 errors?

Make sure the site is functional under IE6, but don't bother fixing visual errors, and perhaps simplify the design of the page when IE6 is detected, and then stick a friendly little message on it (only if IE6 useragent is detected, of course), saying that they're using a 10 year old browser which is why the page looks a bit odd, and give them instructions on upgrading/switching browser. (And make it simple, imo. Saying "go here, here, here, here or here to get IE7, Chrome, Opera, Safari or Firefox" is just going to scare people away from upgrading. You'll probably want to suggest one browser.)

The point isn't to punish the user for using IE6, but rather to avoid putting extra work into IE6 compatibility. I believe the best motivation for upgrading your browser is "the site I want to visit looks wrong". Security, performance, tabs or no tabs and all the other advantages don't really matter as much as "does my browser actually allow me to view the sites I want?"

1

Explain the security risks of not upgrading from IE 6 to something newer. You'll find that if you start spouting that their internet security is at risk they will often get scared and follow the nice person who knows computers.

If that fails I find a shotgun would do the trick.

1

Tell them upgrading IE is like going from an old Ford Pinto to a new car, for free...

1

Check out the The fair Upgrade from IE6 Banner from fellow Stack Overflow user and "competitor", Thomas Hansen.

0

Arguably, still abrasive: Windows Update.
IE7 has been in the "Recommended" update list for quite a few months now.

Or, the IE homepage which has pages explaining the benefits of upgrading pretty well.

But, really, IE6 works. Security is about the only real benefit for Joe Schmoe to actually update -- and that assumes he/she understands or cares what that means.

0

I have found that with myself and others, the only way you can make someone use a particular web browser is to make it a requirement of the site they are trying to visit. If they want it enough, they'll upgrade to be able to visit it.

Another way to say it is, people will do the easiest thing allowed to them and will only change if they are given no way around it.

0

Take notice that some people just can't upgrade or for that matter can't get any windows updates because their illegal windows fails to validate and they are too lazy to do something about it or even aren't aware it's a problem.

0

Well, I'd guess 90% of your IE6 users probably like the compatibility with the browser at work, which also is IE6. Fix the business first.

There is of course the well-tested method of looking at the browser version and displaying:

Sorry, your browser is not supported. Please upgrade to a recent version of Firefox, Safari or Chrome.

0

Call your parents, tell them to upgrade.

Call your friends, ask them to do the same to their parents.

0

Designing for IE6 really sin't all the headache inducing if you just take the time to learn what standards it's not following. I've created many sites over the last 7 years ranging from flash-based to pure AJAX manipulated and have yet to encounter anything that caused problems. The only thing I can really complain about is the non-standard object element instead of embed, but I've always just used SWFObject, so I just ignored that.

0

Forward them a link to the news about the latest IE vulnerabilities, choosing the site that has the most credibility with them. Include a link to Firefox.

0

I didn't see anyone post this URL, which is the direct link to upgrade IE: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/ie/getitnow.mspx

There are different avenues you can head down:

  • The security route: "Your browser is insecure".
  • The buggy route: "Your browser is buggy/faulty/broken".
  • The age route: "You browser is more than 5 years out of date!"
  • The speed route.
  • A combination: "Your browser is out of date. Click here to upgrade to a faster, more secure version of Internet Explorer

Personally, I like to style messages like IE's warning bar, to make it look more official. It is slightly deceiving, but desperate times... ;)

0

My personal approach is just to use dean edwards script on the page. If it still doesn't work, then the "upgrade your browser" text and links come up.

I include links to FF2 aswell because users of 98, ME, 2000 (yes, they still exist) can upgrade to IE6, but no further and can't run FF3.

0

Tell them you service requires a client-side install, then point them to Chrome.

0

Try this site:

http://updateyourbrowser.net/en/

it has a buttom banner, and and script for a top bar like stackoverflow when you are not logged in, but only shows up when the user uses old browsers, if gives you the script to show the warning, and explain that old browsers are filled with bugs and for their security they should update.

0

Whatever you do, don't automatically redirect to "end6.org"!!

I get that often enough because I'm stuck on IE6 at $WORK - and it's incredibly annoying. Yes, there are better browsers out there. But forcing me to another website to tell me I'm stupid makes me think you are, and I won't be back.

0

You can.

Usually, I just place a kind, calm and informative notice that tells something like "your browser is too old, please upgrade to a new version".

It is extremely important that you do not show anything of your site to them. So this should not be a notice, it should be the content of the page that they see.

It is also important that you do not start to write about technical details and that you do not start to talk about political issues (use firefox or whatever, ...).

Just tell them, that their browsing device is out of date, and leave them alone at this point!!!

In this way, you do not even suggest that they are or could be stupid. In this way, you open the people a path to explore, to find out what happened.

Do not tell people that they suck. Not in any way (technical affine people do that way too much).

0

You should say that the person is using a old browser with many vulnerabilities and saying that it's very easy to exploit them like:

this and this

0

Hey, Microsoft released the new version of IE6. It is named Firefox. Can I upgrade your version? Works for Office too :)

0

Use Html5 and css3 features that have ok fallbacks for older browser but does not work as well and give a nice notice that the site works better with a more modern browser. I think we will see a major shift in browser upgrades when some killer html5 sites starts appearing

-1

There's the javascript from http://ie6update.com/ which displays an official-looking update bar, that points to the Microsoft current IE version/download page. Check the demo.

It's ever so slightly misleading but will help most people ;-) Without pissing them off, too.

-2
  1. Introduce them to Adblock.

  2. A re-branded version of Firefox / Chromium which has "Internet" in it's name

-2

Redirect them to http://www.bringdownie6.com/