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In the upcoming version of our web app, we've broken IE6, and we don't intend to fix it. We've had a clear warning posted for IE6 users for some months; we've decided it's time not to support it.

My question is: how should we communicate this to our users?

Some people here feel that we should block IE6 users who would try to access the web app, because it's not going to work for them. Others feel that we should just leave up a warning, saying "This doesn't work in IE6," but not block them; instead, if they click to dismiss the warning, just let them in to the broken site to see for themselves that it doesn't work.

Who is right? Is there a better way?

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RSVP ie6funeral.com –  miku Feb 11 '11 at 22:13
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Note that this question is not about whether we should or should not desupport IE6. We know all about progressive enhancement. Most of our web site works just fine in IE6, but the site also has a complex AJAX web app; we no longer feel that it's worth the time to fix the web app for a tiny minority of our users. They can still access the information our site via an HTML site map and, of course, Google. I will downvote answers proposing that we fix the webapp for IE6. We've made our decision. –  Dan Fabulich Feb 11 '11 at 22:16
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Perhaps a friendly upgrade message? "Please, for the love of overworked web designers everywhere, upgrade your 10 year old browser. If your sysadmin refuses to do it, slap him. If you lack the authority to slap him, find someone who can." –  Sharpie Feb 11 '11 at 22:19
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Who uses your web app? Individuals? People low in the corporate hierarchy? Executives? –  David Thornley Feb 11 '11 at 22:35
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@David Individuals; most of our IE6 traffic is on weekdays, strongly indicating that it's people browsing at work; I agree that this is probably outside of their control. But that means it's all the more important to get this message right. –  Dan Fabulich Feb 12 '11 at 0:15

5 Answers 5

Detect IE6 users and display a friendly message on top:

If this page looks broken please consider updating you browser
to fix it and to benefit from the advanced functionality.

It's better to avoid negative wording and telling users what they can't do or what they are not allowed to do. Make them feel still welcomed but at the same time aware what to do if they don't like what they see.

Also a good idea to add some unobtrusive help to the message above:

Updating your browser will improve your browsing experience and
maximize you security. On this page we have prepared for you
some instructions and an overview of your best options for today.
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A nice, diplomatic way. –  miku Feb 11 '11 at 22:16
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Thing is, subtle diplomacy is unlikely to work. Stating that the page will not work properly with IE6 is more likely to get results. –  David Thornley Feb 11 '11 at 22:40
    
@David, what results? People will rush in regardless of the wording. –  user8685 Feb 11 '11 at 22:48
    
A very nice way of stating it. –  sevenseacat Feb 12 '11 at 4:19
    
Great idea without causing any ethical dilemmas. –  J Child Mar 9 '11 at 21:35

There is actually quite a cool utility for this:

http://ie6update.com

IE6 Update Bar

It brings up an install bar for upgrading... quite clever. Try the demo.

Note: As IE9 is unavailable for Windows XP (or Server versions before 2008) and IE6 does not exist on anything more recent, this utility will no longer be able to update to the latest version. It could still upgrade to IE8 though, which still achieves the goal of removing IE6.


Failing that, there is an IE6 upgrade warning project on Google Code.

IE6 Upgrade Warning


Microsoft are actually directly supporting an anti-IE6 website, The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown.

The website shows the remaining usage worldwide by country, month on month and encourages the following banner to be put on websites:

IE6 Countdown

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That's pretty cool. Thanks for sharing it. –  JohnFx Feb 12 '11 at 17:48
    
ie6update.com was great before IE9. Now with IE9 a few days away it is BAD. Computers with IE6 CANNOT UPGRADE TO IE9. Ever. So, they will download IE8 and we will be stuck in a few years trying to convince everyone to ditch IE8. –  David Murdoch Mar 9 '11 at 19:38
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I like the yellow bar approach, as the usual response is exactly what yuo want these people to do. –  user1249 Mar 9 '11 at 20:34
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With that said: any user can upgrade from IE* to any modern browser (IE8 is NOT a modern browser) for free. However, a Windows XP user CANNOT upgrade to Vista or Windows 7 for free. We need to encourage users who cannot use IE9 to move to another modern browser. –  David Murdoch Mar 9 '11 at 21:15
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@David Murdoch: Which is why I favour the middle approach of the three I mention. –  Orbling Mar 9 '11 at 21:18

What's the worst that could happen if an IE6 user access the site and tries to use it despite the warnings? Minor user annoyance? Corrupt data? Loss of life? Accidental Cthulhu summoning?

My suggestion is a big ugly noticable banner at the top warning them they are using an unsupported browser and you will not be able to respond to their trouble tickets if they call them in on IE6. Let them access the site as long as it doesn't cause any serious dataloss (or other problems other than those along the lines of "the div doesn't line up nicely"), but make sure they know they're unsupported.

And if IE6 users have functionality SOOO degraded that they might as well not use the site, then block them. Or maybe give them a "Site may not work well with your browser, are you REALLY sure you want to try?" page (I've actually seen this last one in use here and there).

...and since you've had a warning already posted for months, it's not as if they can say they weren't given advance notice.

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Serious data loss is not a risk in our case... it's an alternate view of our data. It's seriously broken in the next version; some transparency problem is making most of the screen look blue. So there's really very little risk that someone could be harmed by our non-functionality in IE6. –  Dan Fabulich Feb 11 '11 at 22:36
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@Dan Fabulich: So it's basically unusable for all practical purposes? I'd then suggest to initially block them and give them the "Are you sure you want to try with an unsupported browser?" message... hopefully they will try and see that they need to upgrade. On whatever page they land on, you might also want to show them screenshots and descriptions of all the new and wonderful features they're missing out on. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Feb 11 '11 at 22:42
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Often programmers use AJAX methods with the interface to restrict and guide choices and decisions from the interface to the software. Having a state of "not sure what will work" can introduce situations where the user thinks they are making decisions that do not pan out, or worse, are allowed to make decisions that should be barred. Now obviously your server-side code still needs to check and trap these cases, but it's still a large risk deliberately authorising a dodgy interface, if something goes wrong, your users may well say - "it's your fault". –  Orbling Feb 12 '11 at 1:19
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Also +1 for the "Accidental Cthulhu summoning" –  Orbling Feb 12 '11 at 1:19

I'd block it entirely, because it decreases the possibility for misinterpretation.

If you keep the site up and it sort of works in IE6, but not really, and some parts don't work at all, then no matter how good of a notice you put up saying "don't use IE6 with this site," there are bound to be a bunch of users who will not notice it (or don't know enough about the differences between web browsers to know they're using the broken browser in the first place,) and that'll generate problems.

On the other hand, if an attempt to access the site redirects them to a page that says "this site is incompatible with your current web browser; here are links to Firefox, Chrome and IE8, all of which will work properly with our site," that's a whole lot harder to misunderstand.

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Block pages are also much more intrusive. I would much rather visit a broken site than get blocked from it entirely. Perhaps this would only apply to pages that absolutely require IE7+ functionality? –  TheLQ Feb 11 '11 at 22:51

It Depends

it depends on the usefulness of the site in a 'broken' browser

if the site won't work at all, then redirect them to a polite explanation of why

if the site might still be able to deliver some useful functionality, lightbox a warning dialog and have a big green [click here to upgrade IE] button and a tiny [continue at your own risk] link

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wrt the "continue at your own risk" - [to save rehashing a point, read my first comment to FrustratedWithFormsDesigner's answer.] Same issue, potentially puts the site at risk too, even with a disclaimer. –  Orbling Feb 12 '11 at 12:22
    
@Orbling: in that case, redirect them to a page that says "RESTRICTED AREA! Elderly versions of IE6 may not enter!" –  Steven A. Lowe Feb 12 '11 at 19:56
    
Aye, that's probably the sensible plan. Some fool user will probably try and attack you on age discrimination though. –  Orbling Feb 13 '11 at 1:23

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