More and more web development companies state they will no longer support anything but the latest browsers on the market. Some go even further and state that they will only support 5% of the market, e.g. Firefox.
I think that is a mistake.
The reason is that the average person has no reason to upgrade. The user experience in browsers really hasn't changed in the last 10-15 years. Sure it has changed a lot for us web developers - but that is the technical side of it. The things we notice. The user do not look at the technical side, they look at the user-side of it.
How does the average person use a browser? How do Mr. John Doe and Mrs. Jane Doe browse the internet?
Simply speaking, they do not use any of the additions made to the browsers in recent years. Instead they only use:
When I look around me, at colleagues, friends and family - all of them is only using the above features.
In general, this is today's user experience in browsers - 3 buttons, an address bar, and a content area.
They do the same - and this is why people are reluctant to upgrade.
We, as web developers have ample of reason to make our visitors upgrade their browser:
None of these have anything to do with the visitors, it only has something to do with you and I, as web developers.
People generally do not care about how long it took you to make a site; instead they care about your content. They do not know what this "standards thingy" is. They do not care about the look of the browser in general, as longs as it keeps the look as the operating system.
From your visitor's point of view, there is nothing in it for them - it is only about you.
There are legitimate reasons for your visitors to upgrade, and it is these reason you need to tell them. You need to explain what is in it for them, not what's in it for you.
One major reason is spyware. If they upgrade to the latest version (IE6 / Firefox / Safari), they will be less vulnerable. But, to really get secure they need to upgrade the operating system as well - use Windows XP SP2 or Mac OS X Panther. And, get an updated anti-virus subscription.
Another reason is less problems with websites. Since many web developers do not consider their users, you will experience a lot of problems using an older browser.
A third is improved usability. Standards and advanced scripting offers you a highly improved user experience. Websites can be made to solve workflows in an efficient way, it can improve visual feedback, it can provide you with a clearer picture and it can be made to automate tedious or timely tasks.
A fourth is a pop-up blocker, which removes all those pesky pop-up advertisements.
All of these are relevant for your visitors, and some might see them as relevant enough to actually do something about it.
But, always give your visitors a choice. Do not force them to use something new just because you might think it is good. Either convince them to switch, or leave the old system in place or probably both.
Remember it is their workflows, their way-of-life, we want to change - not yours.
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