Web site design approach and the older browser like IE6

IE6 is outdated but still widely used in the web developing world. We bitch about Microsoft decision to leave its browsers rotting for years and moan about the time we spend to fix the IE6 issues.  Being a UI Developer I will suggest not to support IE6, because while supporting, we feel shackled to the old technology and avoid using latest technology partly or entirely,   but it’s not you or me who can decide which browser to support and which to put down. It’s user, who uses the website or application. If highest numbers of users are using IE6, we cannot ignore them, similarly if the client wants full support to IE6 we cannot deny that. Then what should we do…? There are numbers of approach which we can follow but for any approach, we will have to study the target audience first, which browser is being used by highest numbers of users then, take the decision which approach to follow.

Hardboiled Web Site Design approach of Andy Clarke

Hardboiled web design approach of Andy Clarke can be the option where he suggests to use HTML5 and CSS3 from today, he focused on the point “Web site doesn’t need to look the same in all the browsers” in his example work, he has shared the web site design approach which he adopted in the redesigning of project New Internationalist and Designing for CannyBill which was really great and stimulated the Web Community to use the new technology from today.

Here are the screenshots of the CannyBill to understand how older browser like IE6 has been handled in this approach.

Content is accessible in IE6 but the design used for contemporary browsers only, approach is really good and can be adapted only if the IE6 users are very less, then this is the best web site design approach but if the number of IE6 users are higher, we cannot ignore the design in older browser like IE6. We have to design for IE6 also; again we can follow the same approach.

The design should look same but not identical.

Graceful Degradation and Progressive Enhancement

Two famous web site design approaches in web community are “Graceful Degradation” and “Progressive Enhancement“.  In graceful degradation a website or application is given a good level of user experience for contemporary browser and degrades gracefully for those using older browser. In “Progressive Enhancement” a basic level of user experience is provided for all the browsers, when rendering your website.  And advance level of functionality is added to the contemporary browsers, but

No approach needs to be applied religiously to everything that we create in web.

Making decision for the web design approach

Which web site design approach to follow depends on the highest number of users using that browser, if the maximum numbers of users are using old browsers then make your content presentable for the old browser, where our first focus would be old browsers. Then work for the contemporary browsers and use CSS3 properties, so that users using contemporary browser can take benefit the luxury of using latest browser.  If the highest numbers of users are using contemporary browsers then design for the contemporary browser first and use the latest technology HTML5, CSS3 wholeheartedly and make your content presentable in older browsers. In any approach, design need not be identical in all the browsers rather it should look same.

So, those users who are using multiple browsers at the same time should have the impression that they are not on the different site.  They are using the same site which they accessed earlier in the other browser.

Content should be the king and accessible for all the browsers, no matter if it is displayed in slightly different ways.

A web designer’s job is to put across the information (content) through web pages. And design of the page supports the message which needs to be shared. While communicating the information it needs to give the right impression of the brand. So, in all the browsers content should be presentable, yes… it need not  look identical in all the browsers but it should look good with same branding.

Author: Gopal Juneja

A UX/UI enthusiast living in India Delhi having 18+ years of industry experience to use in beautiful design and handsome front end coding.

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