When a developer creates a website for a client it needs to be compatible (look and work the same) in all popular browsers. For most every browser, this really isn’t that difficult a task. They all play rather well together. All, but Internet Explorer (IE). IE has been so bad at staying up to par on web standards, we have to hack and tweak the website code to make it compatible with IE and still appear the same in Chrome and Firefox. As a website developer, I can tell you that IE has been nothing short of a nightmare. It has an awful reputation and it’s well deserved.
Here’s what usually happens — you spend days/weeks/months designing a website. You test it out in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Opera. It looks awesome! It performs flawlessly. Everything is where it should be, and it all comes together in a seamless delight. Then comes the moment of truth — you must open it up to test it in IE. More often than not, in IE the page looks like somebody put it into a blender, hit the mix button and forgot the lid. So now you have to spend double the amount of time trying to fix it to look tolerable in IE, meanwhile begging your client to please try a different browser. Of course, you could design for IE first, but then it would horrific in all the other browsers, so there really is no winning scenario here.
So, why does this happen?
Then why is IE so popular with users?
The only reason most people use IE is because Microsoft has made IE the default web browser for Windows and the average customer starts using it blindly. Often times, they simply are unaware that there are much better browsers available. Even when a developer or a web savvy person suggests a better browser to IE users, many IE users don’t really understand the benefit of changing even though all browsers are free to download and use. However, once a person has even limited experience with a better browser, they usually switch never to return to the land of IE. Why? Because no one wants to browse through the internet slower, or see web pages with missing links. And I haven’t even mentioned the security vulnerabilities of Internet Explorer. That’s a whole blog post in itself.
To be fair, IE 9 is the current version and I’ve been told it supposed to be faster and safer than the previous versions, and Microsoft is already hyping up the next version — IE 10. All that is fine and dandy, but from my stats tracker, I can see that the vast majority of visitors to my sites are still using IE6 and 7. In fact, no one visiting this WunderWebs site is using IE9. Not a one. So that means I am still forced to design for the old versions until rendering standards of IE and other browsers finally converge. And since IE6 has been out for over 10 years now, this convergence might not happen for another 10 years time when all IE users everyone will at least be upgraded to IE9.