It’s Finally Time for IE6’s Curtain Call

April 6th, 2009   Posted by Ted in Browsers, Software, Usability

In the world of web development there has been a recent push from all around the world to finally drop support for IE6. It’s understandable since IE8 is now released and IE6 is about 8 years old, an antique in computer years. However, there are still a measurable amount of users still launching IE6 as their primary browser, 17.4% of all users according to w3schools. So should we abandon the traditional model of graceful degradation and cross browser compatibility and stop supporting IE6? Some very substantial web developers have said yes.

37signals started phasing out support for ie6 starting in October 1, 2008. They’re not stopping ie6 users from logging in and using their software all at once. They’re taking the phase out approach of telling everyone that any new improvements or fixes may not be compatible with IE6.

Facebook has decided to provide an inferior experience and a large warning message to all their users in IE6.

Apple – Mobile Me.
Apple touts Mobile Me as a desktop experience on the web. Thus their site pushes far beyond what developers can even do on IE6. IE6’s slow javascript engine would just end up with too bad of a user experience for Apple, so they don’t even let you log in with IE6.

Notice the ugly transparent png apple logo

Notice the ugly transparent png apple logo

One thing these websites have is that they’re not even websites, they’re web applications. They, like many desktop applications, are starting to require a system upgrade to use their software. Users tend to me more understanding when it comes to an application asking them to upgrade than it does a website. We do it all the time on the desktop and this helps these developers get away with such bold actions. The other thing that separates these sites from most is they’re actively developed large applications. So they have new features, design iterations, fixes, and enhancements constantly, and as the web moves forward and IE6 stays so far behind it’s becoming more expensive and time consuming to try to retrofit things to work in IE6. What was financially feasible 2 years ago is no longer today. It had to start sometime, why not now?

Well if web applications killing support for IE6, what are web sites to do? First off, they don’t have the advantage of users tolerating a required update like applications, and they don’t always have the constant development iterations that web applications have, forcing them to kill IE6 for financial reasons. This hasn’t stopped a few others from taking an anti IE6 approach.
One of the largest sites in Norway, has dropped support for IE6 and initiated a campaign to get others to follow suit. In fact they saw results of less ie6 users immediately which they’ve interpreted as people upgrading.
45Royale is a respectable web agency that decided to offer a one IE6 page watered down version of their site to anyone using IE6. The site is very careful to let people know they’re only seeing 9% of their website and offers links to download a more modern browser.

So what does this mean for Billups Design? Currently we’ve worked hard to make the IE6 user experience of as close to other modern browsers as possible.  We use a respectable level of ajax effects, transparent png and advanced CSS layout techniques, all of which we’ve tried to degrade gracefully for IE6. Do we keep putting hours of labor into supporting this one browser when the gulf between it and “modern” grows wider each day?

We’ve decided to take on a little IE6 experiment of our own. Since relaunching our site we’ve been actively pursuing feedback. With feedback comes iterations, and with iterations comes the decision to support IE6 or not. Our Google Analytics stats show that we’re getting about 4.7% of our visits from IE6 users. Thats about 1/20 users with IE6. Its a small percentage, but still a decent size. So we’ve built  a one-pager (a la to serve up to anyone visiting in IE6. We took a similar philosophy to mobile web design and filtered out all but the most important aspects of our site into the one page. You can check it out at .

Further reading:

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15 Responses to “It’s Finally Time for IE6’s Curtain Call”

  1. Adios Internet Explorer 6 | Lakeshore Branding | Chicago Web Design | Internet Marketing  May 25th, 2009

    […] Facebook has had a message for all users with the IE 6 for over a year. Thanks Stairwell Blog […]

  2. Tetsui  July 21st, 2009

    I have a great idea. All those in the web design/dev arena decide on a date when we all stop using ie6. It will be a unified push to get rid of the enemy. I think we have pandered to its oppresive regine far too long, lets stand up for “ie must die day”, spread the word!

  3. sunnysunglohia  August 2nd, 2009

    I found your blog on google and I really like your design. I just Bookmark your Blog to see your latest design. Keep up the good work. Look forward see more of your design in the future.
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    Really need some good web designers like you. Thanks

  4. Crazy Drunk Slut  August 3rd, 2009

    well.. it’s like I thought!

  5. Jatnika  December 29th, 2009

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!


  6. BlindSniper  January 22nd, 2010

    Keep on posting such stories. I like to read articles like that. BTW add some pics :)

  7. Brittany  January 31st, 2010

    Interesting, never thought of it like that

  8. Carol Sanders  January 31st, 2010

    Great post! Nice blog.

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  10. Kenyon Breton  May 8th, 2010

    Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  11. Enrique Thurgood  May 12th, 2010

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  12. Shaquana Slaney  May 17th, 2010

    Thank you for the great post – I had fun reading it! I always enjoy this blog.

  13. Pointer Men's Basketball  October 30th, 2010

    Maybe you should edit the page subject title It’s Time for IE6’s Curtain Call – Stairwell Blog | The Stairwell to something more better for your blog post you make. I loved the post all the same.

  14. Uk 106  April 13th, 2011

    I don’t agree with it, many thanks for having the initiave to come up with it

  15. Aracelis Meister  October 15th, 2012

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this.