Saturday, July 9, 2011

You can hate IE but can't ignore it, not yet!

As developers/web designers it is easy to hate Internet Explorer (IE), the whole Microsoft machinery seems to be geared up in helping you at it. Often you hate it so much that you don't want to take a look at your web site in IE, wishing it did not exist in the face of the earth. This creates issues if you are deploying web applications/websites for the general public. We just ran into one and it is very embarrassing. We added a small menu bar to the top of our website, this was to allow users to sign in to the website from any public page without having to go to the sign in page.
The menu bar is a small innocuous HTML DIV that is positioned on the top right corner of the website. The changes were made in the site template and will affect all most all web pages in the site.
It worked perfectly in Firefox, Chrome, and Opera but we ignored IE :(.  We moved the change into production and send out a mail to all our users. We had also made some UI layout changes so the email made high claims about our new look & feel and how happy we are to get it to you, our dear users.

What we did not know was that the small menu bar had completely ruined our main tabs for the pages in IE 8.0.   IE users that came to our site must have found it to one annoying site to use. The most uneasy thing about the whole episode is that we have a relatively very high IE user percentage, hope we haven't alienated all those users.

Internet Explorer's market share is sinking but the market share it holds right now is still huge. According to NetMarketShare on May 2011, Internet Explorer has 54.27 percent of the browser market, followed by Firefox with 21.71 percent, Chrome with 12.52 percent, Safari with 7.28 percent and Opera 2.03 percent
Clearly, the average Internet user is on IE and if you need them on your websites better take care of them.

So it is OK to hate IE but you just can't ignore it, at least not in next five years...