Do we support Internet Explorer?

Which, on the face of it, is a perfectly reasonable question, and we do get asked. Look a little deeper though and it gets more interesting.

Two years ago nobody thought about 'supporting' Internet Explorer, it was assumed, but that simple question now shows how much the mindset of people has changed. IE is now seen as something 'to be supported', something that is somehow different and out of the norm. The norm, in this case, being the other browsers - Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Apple Safari. This is unprecedented.

One concept that has changed is that browsers have a 'version', this is something that is becoming increasingly less relevant as browsers regularly self-update with security and stability patches and with feature enhancements and constantly improved standards support for HTML5 and CSS3, the very latest in web standards. IE however, is still in the land of the Point Version Release, most recently at version 9. Other browsers, notably Google Chrome, are kept up to date almost constantly giving them exceptionally good support for the most modern web technologies, standards and techniques.

We like to design and build websites with modern technologies and standards, we actually think it's important and drives web usage forwards and onwards and these browsers, with their frequent incremental updates enable this to happen. In our opinion IE9, even though a very recent release, is two years behind the 'competition' and there's already talk of IE10 doing the rounds - still a version release. For an organisation with the funds and resources of Microsoft it's simply inexplicable. In fact IE9 uptake is somewhere around a fifth that of the latest Firefox release which became available at around the same time.

Things like rounded corners, drop shadows and various text effects are all part of the latest CSS3 standard and many clever things have come along with HTML5 that developers will be exploring for a good time to come. Not to say that IE9 isn't a modern browser - by Microsoft standards it's truly cutting edge and it will do a fair job but those are no longer the standards browsers are judged by. Browsers are judged on their support for standards, they have been by developers for the last three years or more, and now the users are understanding this, too.

So. No. We do not 'support' Internet Explorer. Of course we test our sites in the big three browsers - Chrome, Firefox & IE - but we don't believe in burning time, your money, in developing a modern site then creating images, drop shadow backgrounds and other associated resources along with custom stylesheets in order to make it look as though IE does the same as the other browsers when the other browsers all work as expected and are a greater market share (that means visitors to your site) than IE users. If you want us to do this then of course we will and you'll get billed for the extra time but guess what... not one of our clients has asked for this because the extra expense of supporting non-standards compliant browsers in this day and age is not worth the money and we completely agree.