I have recently become interested in web-design. Having been a software developer (ahem, craftsman) before moving into training and facilitation work I frequently find that I miss being a hands-on coder. There was nothing (software-oriented) I especially wanted to develop though, as all my interest and work in the world of Scrum pointed me towards paper-based tools and human collaboration.
Why is it awful? Well, apart from the fact it is bloated and slow, the makers decided to create their own standards (I know, “own” and “standards”, oxymoron, right?). Almost everything that renders as required in all five of the other browsers I test on (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and Arora) renders differently in IE — and usually looks a complete mess. Now there are workarounds, which is good, but it does mean that for every page designed maybe 20-50% of extra design time is spent tweaking and re-testing on IE. And so accepted is the fact that IE does things differently that instead of fixing the problem, Microsoft have added a proprietary workaround (the comment-buried conditional if[IE] statement). And no one complains. Yes it works, but no it is not smart. It is ridiculous. And unusable, of course, by any other browser.
It would maybe be acceptable if each subsequent version of IE improved. But it doesn’t, each version just adds a whole new set of quirks that have to be learned, and supported, and continues to leave out some very basic support
So, in frustration one day I just switched off IE access on one troublesome page of my WelfareCSM site. I figured that if people wanted what I had to offer they could take the trouble to use a real browser to read about it. And if they didn’t want to take the trouble, then maybe I didn’t want to work with them anyway. I also felt it was my duty to educate people that IE was not their only choice (some people do not actually know this). The IE alert on WelfareCSM redirected the user to the Firefox download page.
This action of mine triggered off a short twitter discussion, which I found hard keeping up with in 140-character bursts, so decided to expand it into a blog post. I have since re-allowed access to WelfareCSM in IE (for now) but only while I contemplate a more thorough exclusion of IE by all my web apps backed up by a ‘browser discovery’ program. You see, when things don’t change they tend to stay the same. And as we all know, change isn’t what someone else does, change starts here, now.
By our current actions –supporting IE– we say to Microsoft, yes what you are doing is okay, we can live with it. We’ll continue cleaning up your mess for you, and spend many wasted hours pandering to your uncooperative spirit, your arrogance and your superiority of market share.
But it isn’t okay, and I don’t want to support it. My proposed action may be tiny, but it is action, and if done right it could be an interesting experiment. I’d certainly want a way to get feedback from those affected by the IE ban. Ideas?
Eric Willeke kicked off the original twitter discussion, 4 Nov…
[erwilleke] Ok – I can’t believe WelfareCSM.com actually REFUSES to render in IE… thanks @tobiasgmayer
[tobiasgmayer] @erwilleke I am considering making all my websites refuse to open in IE. Someone has to take a stand
[erwilleke] @tobiasgmayer Even if just frustrates some techies and drive away the “extra guest” types you require on the WelfareCSM? What’s the goal?
[tobiasgmayer] @erwilleke IE==60%++ more webdev time to support the worst performing browser. And everyone should have AT LEAST Firefox, for choice.
[erwilleke] @tobiasgmayer We always saw the flip-side b/c of market share. FF & Safari(mac) had “enough” to justify supporting it, most others didn’t
[tobiasgmayer] More web designers should refuse to pander to IE. Stop wasting time. Shut it down. What will you do with your extra 50% of life?
[tobiasgmayer] @erwilleke almost ALL browsers except IE follow the same standards. Support one you get all the others for free. IE is an arrogant bully
[tobiasgmayer] @erwilleke If a required web page snubs IE and the user is shown an alternative he will likely take it, and voilà! one less IE user 🙂
(a couple of RTs…)
[ravinar] @tobiasgmayer Can you explain your “pander to IE” tweet?
[tobiasgmayer] @ravinar yes. IE is a piece of crap, that makes up its own standards. There are many better, trustworthy (and free) browsers available.
[tobiasgmayer] @BillyGarnet (IE) and we have the ability to change that. After all, supporting something because the majority does has a bad track record.