The true cost of supporting IE

Posted on October 26, 2011

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Recently, I was working on a client’s website and intranet, and it occurred to me that half of the work I was doing would not exist if IE7 and IE8 supported some of the basic CSS3 values that many modern browsers do.

And before IE9 is raised, it’s still in beta and also requires the operating system to be Windows 7. No large company (Over 100 employees) will be upgrading to Windows 7 anytime soon.

So this prompted another gem to enter my mind (as I was waiting for files to transfer). What is the cost of this non-support? I mean, here I am creating graphics for tabs and panels with rounded corners and gradients just because IE 7 and IE8 can’t render them.

And before anyone mentions the IE .htc workarounds, they are hardly stable, and can only render on 4 corners or none at all.

So I estimated that in real terms, creating this one button (with text on it, a stroke, mild shadow and gradient) would cost the company 1/2 hour, and for conservative estimates, lets just say that is £10.

Now that is just one element on a page – and granted, some of the elements can be re-used, but I would say that the extra effort involved increases a project completion time by double – simply because of the amount of testing you have to do across the different browsers.

It is also unsafe for large organisations to negate IE6. Especially where transactional functionality is concerned – like applying for something, paying for something and then being able to operate/download the item after.

If, for example you are a recruitment company and you use javascript in your job search engine ‘without a non-javascript fallback’ then you could be seriously breaching some discrimination laws, where visually and physically impaired users may only have access via assistive devices – that may not support javascript.

Solution?

Well unfortunately we have left Microsoft to their own devices for far too long – and never campaigned hard enough for them to release updates to IE6, 7 and 8 that address these issues. And unless someone does – it means more work – which isn’t bad, if you are getting paid to deal with it. However, if I was a big business and someone explained this insanity to me I would have give M$ a right royal roasting!

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Posted in: Web Development