I'd love to drop support for IE6, but I work for a governmental organization and, according to Analytics, 12% of my users still view our website in IE6. I don't believe that this is a low enough number to justify ending support for it, but I'm curious to know; what is your point at which you stop coding for the older, now problematic browsers? Thoughtful answers only, please.
I'm not surprised there are still quite a number of IE6 users especially in some larger organisation where 'upgrades' are done every few years and also their need to support legacy applications.
Yes, 12% is indeed not low enough. Cross-browser support especially for the older ones depends largely on the nature of the website and user profiles. You have done the right thing by examining the visitors/users analytics.
I'm not sure what is the nature of your website. If it provides useful information/services for the general public which cannot be found (easily) elsewhere, ability to view the page properly and navigate with ease are really important. Some issues frustrate users which can be a PR nightmare. E.g.Dropdown menus having gaps in IE6 which hide the menus when mouse hover over them. Page contents spilling over other page elements which makes reading/printing difficult.
Looks like you have to continue support for IE6 until the number drops further to sub 10 or 5%, hopefully within this year. There's no magic threshold number, you will have to decide.
Some of the things you can do to ease the pain:
- Identify the areas that do not work in IE6 and decide if they are worthwhile to be re-implemented/designed differently without the need for IE6 hacks, you have to weigh the cost of re-doing vs explicit hacking
- Consider using UI frameworks (e.g. jQuery UI) which take care of browser issues
I'm sure other guys here will be able to provide other useful tips. Personally, I do not mind sacrificing some bells and whistles for IE6 users, but it's your call :)
Short answer - yes you should still support IE6.
If you work for government, you may be required by higher authority to support certain browsers, check if you have a required specification and find out who has the final say!
Design and implement for standard, modern browsers.
Communicate with your designers, suggest alternates for IE6 so you'll be prepared rather then blocked when you get to functionality that is not supported or doesn't work well with IE6.
Add a notification bar for IE6 visitors and suggest they upgrade, never ever use chrome frame, don't "trick" your visitors into upgrading.
I also want to point out that I heard (was too excited to confirm) that Microsoft will officially stop supporting IE6 (i.e. goodbye IE6) September 2010.