Dev Corner: The Move to Modern Browsers

As front-end web development continues to charge forward, the point at which you decide to stop supporting deprecated browsers naturally becomes more apparent. The benefits of developing for modern browsers simply presents too many opportunities and the cost of back-fixing old versions of Internet Explorer will show ever diminishing returns.

Of course, the first step in this process is determining your audience.  Here at Digital Bungalow, that step begins with analytics. 

Analytics can tell a variety of stories. The story we focus on at the beginning of any project, is the story analytics tells us about a site's user base.  Are the majority of a site's users coming in from modern browsers?  Are they coming in on mobile devices and tablet?  Are they coming in from local intranets with strict security policies in place? And how have these numbers evolved from where they were 6, 12, 18 months ago? 

In determining the answers to these questions, the trends of a user base become apparent, and the story begins to unfold.

Once we have identified the answers, we can determine where we go next.  And more and more, we're seeing the same story - users are moving forward.  We're seeing adoption rates of modern browsers that outpace anything we've seen to date.  And moving forward, we're only expecting this number to increase.

The reason for this is largely due to a trend started with Google Chrome - background updates.  Most users of Chrome have no earthly idea what version they're running - because when there is a new stable release it gets pushed to users silently.  This ensures that Chrome users are always using the "Edge" release - the most secure, stable, feature forward version available.

It wasn't long after that Firefox, Safari, and most recently, Internet Explorer followed suit.  In fact, with the announcement that IE11 would begin silently pushing background updates all major browsers now follow this paradigm.

So, what does this mean for front-end development?  It means that unless a site's analytics are telling us a story vastly different than the status quo, many of the newest techniques available to us are ready to be rolled out at scale.  In coding for modern browsers, Flexible Layouts, CSS columns, transitions, transformations, and more can be utilized to reduce time to deployment, generate fewer bugs, and produce better performing sites - particularly on mobile devices.

In short, it allows us to focus on building the most effective web experience for your users - so that we can continue telling your story. 

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