Getting a bit sick of the IE boycott

I just came across another example of the great IE boycott. While looking around for a Google Reader replacement, it turns out Feedly is one of the most popular. It also turns out that not only does Feedly work not in IE, their basic front page doesn’t even display properly in IE. Not even to say “Sorry, this doesn’t work in IE.” Fair enough that Feedly’s plugin-based architecture might not be supportable in IE – but how hard is it to get your web page to work in what is still the most popular browser?

OK, I can understand and support any individual’s right to use whatever browser they want. But when a business basically gives the finger to 55% of the market I think ideology is getting in the way of customer service.

I don’t believe this is truly about standards anymore. IE9 and IE10 are good enough to say anything you want to say in a basic front-end website. It’s not hard, or even inconvenient, to get your web page to work in IE. Feedly’s blog works just fine in IE, because it’s WordPress and WordPress has no problems with IE. I don’t believe it’s about open-source either. Chrome isn’t really open source, and many of its plugins are commerically licensed.

I believe any halfway competent web developer who releases a page that doesn’t work in IE has done so deliberately, and that’s just plain zealotry.

OK, so a business can choose to ignore some market share if they want. Far less forgiveable is the incredibly prevalent practice among contract web developers of completely ignoring their clients’ environments.

Typical scenario: I contract a web development firm to create a site for a specific target audience. I tell them the standard environment for that audience is IE. IE support is written into the contract. When I visit their office, every developer is using Firefox. The first person to ever look at the site in IE is myself at acceptance testing time. Not suprisingly, the site is littered with minor layout problems and acceptance testing becomes a scramble to patch up stupid mistakes. All totally avoidable. News flash guys – you can be as cool, as anti-Microsoft, and as open source evangelistic as you like on your own time. Me, I want a site that my customers can actually use.

7 thoughts on “Getting a bit sick of the IE boycott

  1. Lately I find Firefox and Chrome a really hogging RAM while IE is not.

    Its like everything is turned on its head. I am so confused. . ..

  2. Firefox is my favorite browser, but at work they only allow Internet Explorer. So, while at work or working from home, I don’t have access to Feedly.

  3. I’m a website developer. You obviously are not. If you were, you would know.

    The problem is that IE developers have chosen to completely ignore many basic HTML standards. The reason so many web developers hit their head against the wall trying to get their site to look the same on IE as all the other browsers is that the standards that are unsupported are BASIC and NEEDED, not esoteric.

    Many web developers such as myself have chosen to create a standards-compliant web site, giving no heed to the IE quirks because of the extra time it would require to get around them while not breaking the look of the site for the other browsers whose developers have chosen to play nice with the rest of the world.

    I can only conclude that Microsoft is grasping at the last straws of their failing dominance in the browser market by continuing their usual monopolistic practices of trying to “lock people into their environment” by creating their own “standards”. Many of us are not having it anymore.

  4. Alan,

    I’d love to see a list of problems that IE has with basic markup, if you’re aware of one. I see lots of articles about problems with WebGL, File APIs etc, but I wouldn’t call those basic and needed. I can see that if you’re building a web application, sure, IE has to be a frustrating and outdated environment. But are there real problems that make it hard to code up a basic corporate home page, where surely the goal has to be to communicate as widely as possible?

    I have to say also that I simply don’t buy the “play nice with the rest of the world” argument. Let’s not forget that for much of the history of web standards, the “rest of the world” has been IE (and a lot of it still is). The whole point of this blog article is that there are an increasing number of web devs who are not “playing nice”, in situations when there’s no compelling reason not to. I actually am a web developer, I understand the frustration over the whole mess, and that a lot of the blame can be directed at MS. But letting that frustration negatively impact both clients and their customers is just unprofessional.

  5. 55% of the market? Where are you getting your numbers? You know 43.4939382% of statistics are made up on the spot, right?

    9% is the number as of Dec 2013, and shrinking every day. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

    I, too, recently joined the IE boycott. Internet Explorer has been a long running joke about as funny as a kitten caught in a ceiling fan.

    They REFUSE to meet web standards. They do NOT get to decide the standards, that is done by the W3C. The fact that I have to spend hours catering to a browser that ignores great web features and has so many items that should work, and could work fine – but they do not. Why? Laziness? Incompetence?

    Personally, I don’t care. After 5 years of programming and hundreds of hours wasted catering to that monstrosity, I REFUSE to micro-tweak every site and page that I build to cater to users that are too lazy or ignorant to update their browser or choose one that actually keeps with W3C standards.

    So as mad as you may be, the fact is IE’s reign is over. Mobile devices make up more than half of web use, and Microsoft has lost the browser war.

    It’s over. Download Firefox or Chrome (or even Safari), and spare us the pedantic cries of “how hard is it”. If you’ve spent more than a couple of years developing websites (from code, not templates like most WordPress sites) then you would know the answer, and likely have the same hatred as other developers.

    As far as I’m concerned, as long as it doesn’t look like garbage in IE and you take the time to fix the most common ‘non-standard’ problems, the rest is on the user. Many sites work differently in IE, so either they’re used to it or don’t know/care what they’re missing out on.

  6. @Casey
    Thanks for your comment. I pretty much agree with what you’re saying – the whole IE thing is incredibly frustrating. Yes, it’d be great if everyone just switched to Firefox. Hasn’t happened yet though – so how about we develop for the users we actually have, not the ones which wished we had?

    It’s not worth arguing about browser share numbers – it’s a moving target and there are various ways of measuring. I can’t help noticing though that you’ve kind of made my point for me. w3schools is a site for web developers. The fact that their numbers for IE are lower than a lot of the others just reinforces the fact that web developers aren’t using the same browser mix that their customers are.

    As for refusing to tweak for IE – good for you, I don’t blame you. As long as your client knows you’re not going to support whatever fraction of their users and is OK with that, fine. This is exactly my other point though. If a site doesn’t work in IE, it’s because the dev made a deliberate decision.

    Finally, is it hard to make a site work in IE? As a developer, I feel the pain. Yes, I have spent more than a couple of years developing websites from code. As a client, though, I don’t care how hard your job is. Don’t take the commission if you don’t want it, or charge enough to make it worth your while. But don’t take the commission then give me snide comments about “real” browsers and “ignorant” users as an excuse for not doing your job. I’m not suggesting you personally would do this, but plenty of web developers would and have.

  7. I do make a point to mention upfront that IE has many issues, and that to make the site exactly the same in IE isn’t always a possibility (and that it will cost extra to do complicated work-arounds for it).

    IE 10 and 11 aren’t nearly as bad as their predecessors, but in my sites I see about 30% of (non-mobile) users using Internet Explorer, which represents about 12-14% of my totals because mobile makes around 60% of total web traffic [most months].

    However, my new editor has been a very large undertaking with thousands of lines of code. Some of the most simple things that work in the other browsers do not in IE – I will not support it.

    There’s a difference between a clients website and web-based software – obviously clients care that their site works on all browsers, and that’s fine (works being the key word there).

    For my software, either upgrade to a browser that at least tries to keeps to standards or continue living in the stone age without it.

    I do agree though – be upfront or do your job without complaining. There are a lot of “template webmasters” that really do not know how (or even care to learn) to fix the IE issues, but will happily take clients money for copy/paste developing.

    I get a lot of those clients – and they’re not happy – which makes our jobs even harder. Thankfully once they figure out I’m not a fly-by-night developer, they’re more than happy to pay for quality service.

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