The Reverse Tipping Point: Say goodbye, IE6
I really identify with Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’. With web tools like Twitter available to all, positive momentum can grow within hours, not days or weeks, potentially creating a success overnight.
So the same can be said about negative momentum – where a community backlash can reach a tipping point and something starts to happen. I’m hoping that by intentionally publishing this article alongside a recent post by Elliot Jay Stocks, a new script by Chris Coyier, a dedicated upgrade campaign, and a new browser from Google (to name but a few), we’ll all be riding the crest of a large wave that sees Microsoft’s bastard child IE6 finally come crashing to a halt.
I hate IE6, as do many others like me. It famously lacks support for W3C standards, so websites rarely look ‘right’ when viewed. This matters because IE6 still has a significant share of the browser market (between 25-30%, depending who you ask) even though it was released a whopping 7 years ago. Fact: no other browser of that age exists.
But my mum doesn’t hate it, nor does my Dad, my wife, or many colleagues. They don’t care how a site is supposed to look, how it should work, or what hacks were used to make the site they see before them look at ‘pretty’. All they understandably care about is the site and its content. So the problem with IE6 lies primarily on the shoulders of the developers/designers/coders wasting precious hours making their sites pretty, only to be forced to hack and compromise them to ensure they look the same on IE6 as in all other browsers. Sure, this might sound trivial, but I assure you that there is nothing more frustrating than making a site look great in Firefox or Safari, only to see it look like the creation of a 10 year old in IE6. Essentially we create 2 versions of the same site – one for the ‘good’ browsers that fully support standards, and one for IE6, which simply doesn’t do what it should.
So what’s the Reverse Tipping Point angle?
IE6 has negatively affected so many web developers, designers and builders since ’01 that the time has come for this community to actually make a difference. With a market share as high as 30%, IE6 wouldn’t disappear overnight, but with what seems to be an increasing trend of ‘non-support’ for IE6, small-, mid- and large-sized web companies are getting bolder and phasing out all support for IE6… with or without Microsoft’s help.
Some methods are extreme. Chris Coyier’s new script tells an IE6 user that the site simply doesn’t support IE6, forcing the visitor to upgrade to view the site. Others are revolution-catalysts – see the IE Death March, and some are a bit more subtle – like savethedevelopers.org. But perhaps the most significant agent for creating this (reverse) tipping point is the fact that many of today’s top web designers (and companies that cater to web designers) are announcing that they’re ceasing all hacks, bug fixes and general support for IE6 – on both their own sites and for all new clients moving forward. It’s these guys – these mavens – that will ultimately change how many people are still using IE6 by this time next year. These guys basically lead the line on web design, so as word filters down that enough is enough, all others will start to follow suit.
To start the pendulum swinging, I’ve rounded up a few posts, sites and tools to get you started in saying goodbye to IE6. If you’re not even a web designer and have only a faint idea of what this is all about, 1) good job on reading this far, and 2) get stuck in anyways! You have nothing to lose, and rest assured you’ll be helping a great cause. Do you part to make the web a prettier place (the way it should be) and say no to IE6!
Tools & tips:
http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage (PC only)
Taking a stand:
IE Death Marchers: