Dropping IE Support

Yesterday TechCrunch reported on the start-up 4ormat and their decision to drop support for Internet Explorer entirely. Their logic behind this seems simple enough; developing for IE users did not equate to profit.

Supporting variants of IE can easily increase design work by 30% to 100%, but complex features can easily double (or even triple) development time. It doesn’t take many developer salaries before this “IE tax” can cost you well over $100,000.

Aside from profit, other benefits listed were: employee satisfaction, productivity, and shorter release cycles.

Open Web evangelists will rage at this idea. Accessibility for all is a cornerstone of good website development. The phrase “best view in…” keeps rearing its ugly head. The idea of “only viewable in…” is even worse.

4ormat sign-up IE blocked

There are two precedents that I find very worrying here:

  1. Browser support should never be boolean. Except when the number of potential users is minuscule (e.g. IE 6 in most cases), at which point testing is clearly unprofitable. A tiered visual and functional experience based on feature detection should exist, i.e. progressive enhancement. Any individual browser or device accessing a website is irrelevant in regards to “support”; there are just too many.
  2. Internet Explorer is not that difficult to develop for. Sure, IE is the butt of all jokes, but the reality is a competent front-end developer should be able to deliver something accessible (based on point 1 above). If IE “doubles” or “triples” your development time then consider hiring new developers.

Ultimately, website owners can do what they choose. I think an idea like actively blocking Internet Explorer is stupid but it’s not my business decision to make.

It does, however, set a dangerous example to those who make websites.

If you’re a so-called website designer or website developer then stop bitching. Learn to do your job. It’s irresponsible towards your employer to project such a negative light on one browser just because you lack the skills to do your job properly.

Rather than whining like a baby when you’re pulled out of your cosy Apple eco-system full of Webkit-based browsers and high resolution devices, face the real world. Recognise that a little bit of hard work and less fun goes a long, long way.

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