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When To Kill Off A Broody Old Browser?


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 02:02 PM

An interesting discussion over at WebmasterWorld; once again incrediBill has tossed a pebble for the fun of watching the conflicting ripples. :D
Why do you enable old browsers?, 06-August-2014.

incrediBill:

I'm just curious of all the reasons designers continue to coddle the older browsers.

If we all stop doing it, they'll be forced to upgrade when nothing works properly.

lucy24:

We exist for the user. The user doesn't exist for us.

Go read it. Some good comments on both sides of the argument.

However, I have an opinion. :D
First, the driving force behind which browsers to support is indeed the user/visitor
But
with the following two provisos:
1. the primary data set should be based on your site(s)' customers/visitors browser usage.
Note: preferably AFTER you exclude bots. If you don't the data will definitely be badly skewed.
Note: metrics and analytics, folks; remember them?

2. the secondary data should be drawn from the regions/countries where prospective audiences live.
Note: try to use at least two different data sets, i.e. Net Market Share, StatCounter, and a dash or three of common sense in conjoining them.
Note: if you aren't interested, for instance, in traffic from India then you do need to know and adjust for the fact that over a quarter of StatCounter mobile pageview traffic is from there.
Note: when deciding whose/which stats to use and how to filter do read and understand the different methodologies. Comparing apples and oranges is difficult but even more so is not knowing how the numbers were derived aka whether it is an apple, an orange, or an orangutan.

As the object of the exercise is to decide which browsers should (still) be supported the fact that various datasets get the order and percentage quite different is largely immaterial. You need to set a base limit below which the effort value is not worthwhile.

For myself:
* I set a 'pay attention' threshold of <=2% as that is what I consider my base conversion rate.
* I typically just use the lowest of the data sets' numbers, i.e. if SC has Chrome 31 at 40%, NMS at 13% I use 13%; if NMS has IE 8 at 21%, SC at 8% I use 8%. It's above the pay attention threshold so it's getting supported, period.

Disclaimer: as I'm not building new sites and already have templates that call display/rendering support depending on browser all the way back to IE5.01 ... I just have to keep an eye on support differences required for new browser versions. However, the above is how I decided which to support way back when. :)
Note: I AM building new apps and it is how I decide which browsers and versions to support.
Note: often the biggest headaches are how to support media. If you build in graceful degradation as I initially did or follow the principles of progressive enhancement such problems should be minimal. Best practices are called that for a reason! :)

There are new wrinkles in the 'which browser' discussion:
1. incorporating WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Application) specification; progressively enhancing HTML4.01 or xHTML; gracefully degrading where overlap exists with HTML5.
Note: a large minority of web users are disabled such that ARIA makes their browsing experience more enjoyable, don't lose them to a competitor by default.

2. porting between Open Web and Chrome app API's and/or working around their differences.
Note: don't forget the web is increasingly accessed by mobile devices and the bookmark<->app choice is one you want to win regardless.

3. how to stop your app's, site's support of browser version.
Note: some sites/apps go the old 'best viewed' in IE/NN route of long ago and when they detect an older no longer supported browser send an UPGRADE message. My advice: either do NOT (or at least first do A/B testing) because doing so can cause a significant drop in conversion rate.
Note: remember progressive enhancement?

4. when a new app or a new site should not bother supporting older browser versions (or even which of the current/new ones should be supported).
Note: a business decision: how much work you can realistically do or buy against the returns of revenue and recommendation.
Note: as noted above I use the 2% of non-bot traffic threshold on existing site's and/or apps after which I consider conversions/recommendations/revenue in relative and absolute numbers, new/return visitor usage, etc. And err on the cautious side. But that's me and my niches and my audiences. You and yours may differ.

 



#2 glyn

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:00 AM

You are starting to sound like one of my robots sir.

How about a nice game of chess, or.
Good evening mr dillinger?

#3 iamlost

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:27 PM

You are starting to sound like one of my robots sir.

How about a nice game of chess, or.
Good evening mr dillinger?

 

Later. Let's play Global Thermonuclear War.

 

Time sure passes slow in here.



#4 cre8pc

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 11:22 AM

I have a programming friends who have consistently refused to use MSIE and one of them hung onto Netscape long past anyone remembered what it was.  

 

I stopped testing sites in Opera when the data indicated that worldwide, it was no longer in use.

 

It should be a requirement for all web and software projects that testing and design be supported by target user data, as well as business requirements.  A business requirement could be, "must work in all browsers".  I would investigate why.  Is it because the web site/app/software will be used in countries that have older equipment and software?  Are we talking about libraries, coffee houses, half way houses, non-profit organizations?  It's easy for us to forget that not every place that has computers has someone maintaining them or keeping them up to date, let alone the funds to upgrade to a newer OS that requires new browsers.  

 

Forcing upgrades is not my choice.  It means that access is limited to those who can afford to do that. Or want to.  

 

I don't believe "we exist for the user".  If that were true, I would have more work coming in  :emo_gavel:   Selling the idea that web sites, apps and software should be built for all people remains a foreign concept and a very very hard sell.  Stakeholders have a limited perspective on what it means to be user friendly.  



#5 iamlost

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:00 PM

I don't believe "we exist for the user".  If that were true, I would have more work coming in  :emo_gavel:   Selling the idea that web sites, apps and software should be built for all people remains a foreign concept and a very very hard sell.  Stakeholders have a limited perspective on what it means to be user friendly.  

Those businesses/sites that put the customer/visitor first, that exist for the benefit of the user (to better benefit the business/site), will probably convert better whatever their traffic. That most businesses do NOT believe that is why you (and others like you) do not have more work coming in.

 

Yes, it is sad but true: business owners are as ignorant and incompetent, silly and stubborn as customers. They go out of business every day proving how wrong they are.



#6 bobbb

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:24 AM

Those businesses/sites that put the customer/visitor first, that exist for the benefit of the user (to better benefit the business/site), will probably convert better whatever their traffic. That most businesses do NOT believe that is why you (and others like you) do not have more work coming in

 

Agreed about the limited view of shareholders and the above but disagree from the point of view of this topic (about old browsers and not accessibility and usability issues).

At some point there has to be a threshold even for commercial sites. What is that threshold? I will use IE6 and 1% as an example.

When you have determined that the browser is at the threshold, after excluding non-humans, then it is time to let go. Anyway those people must already be used to sites not work properly... and they could not buy from you because their SSL certificates would be expired. Is it a wise decision to invest all that money for them? People like EGOL et al pay others to do that work. This is a bad example, on purpose, to bring out a point.

In real life, less than Windows XP is probably that threshold and this means IE8. Not sure about others.

 

There is a even a threshold for accessibility and usability but it is higher... and only because we humans have voluntarily raised that bar.


Edited by bobbb, 19 August 2014 - 10:51 AM.


#7 cre8pc

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 04:00 PM

Found out today a client site gets more IE 6 and 11 browser usage than Firefox.  That amazed me.  Lesson here...check stats!



#8 bobbb

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 04:17 PM

Found out today a client site gets more IE 6 and 11 browser usage than Firefox.  That amazed me.  Lesson here...check stats!

What are they (IE6) using? windows98? ME? Could be spoofed non-humans. So the client is getting scraped to death maybe.

Another question. IE 6 and 11 in how many total pages read?



#9 bobbb

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:13 PM

Did a very unscientific test on 1 site. I see 684 occurrences of MSIE 6.0 of which 571 were denied access because I have determined they were scrapers. Of the 113 left a quick check shows they are the same.



#10 cre8pc

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:49 PM

I will see if I can get more info.  The analytics are done by members of the team, who may be interested, especially if the data does not represent real people.



#11 bobbb

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 06:40 PM

As I said above, their SSL certificate is expired so no sales.

Non humans generally do not  read any .js or .css files.

The totality of a whole session (multiple gets) are within seconds.

Their IP addresses are usually Data Centres like Amazonaws, Dreamoceans, wholesaleinternet, etc or some address in .de, .nl, .cn , .ua, or .ru. No humans there. (that actually surf)


Edited by bobbb, 22 August 2014 - 06:41 PM.


#12 TheAlex

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Posted Yesterday, 03:11 PM

Some businesses in the UK are paying Microsoft millions of pounds for continued Windows XP support.

 

Government-owned computers in many places were only upgraded to Windows 7 this year, and it's impossible to install or update software on these computers, hence many of them were probably still using Internet Explorer 6 and 7 until recently. That's thousands of computers. The only thing the Windows 7 update seems to have done is slowed everyone's computers down, but the government will have to pay another few million pounds if they want that fixing. The computer systems in many places are very antiquated.



#13 bobbb

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Posted Yesterday, 06:31 PM

From the surfing point of view no problem. The thread seemed more geared to be about business. These IE 6 certificates are expired so no sales opportunity here. These people must be used to seeing sites that do not render properly so one more. Just as they must be used to all the new stuff not being available. Hope these PCs are behind real good firewalls. The holes must be gaping. This is not an excuse to spend all kinds of money on your site to accommodate these machines.





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