Why You Should Be Using Modern Browsers

As of late, Digital Bungalow has had a few clients asking us to support IE 7 and 8 for their sites.  The need generally arises due to the client’s end user being on an outdated browser.  To understand these requests we decided to take the approach from two directions. 

1) As a digital agency we wanted to speak to why you shouldn’t want to be on a browser that doesn’t support a powerful website.
2) We thought it would be good to survey the landscape on high traffic sites to find out what browser they support.

So why do web developers prefer you to use modern browsers? 

Development, all development, is always a balancing act between using modern tools while still supporting legacy systems.  With newer tools, in this case browsers, comes increased security, fixes to existing bugs, and efficiencies in how elements are displayed in the viewport as well as how client side code is executed on a user's computer. 

However, the drawback to developing for modern browsers is often an inability for this same code to be correctly executed in legacy versions.  This means that a developer needs to spend more time implementing fixes for specific versions of deprecated browsers.  These fixes can come in the form of custom CSS or JavaScript to only be delivered to these older versions, as well as the loading of special libraries known as “polyfills” that actually allow these browsers to utilize functionality that only exists in their modern equivalents.

In the end, you're left with more upfront development time, as well as a significantly larger codebase to be maintained – often for little reward.  In committing to development only for “edge” versions of a browser (the latest released versions), or “edge +1” (the latest released version, plus one version back), a development team can utilize the latest technologies (CSS transforms, transitions, keyframe animations, and a host of aesthetic tools) to ensure that client designs are rendered properly according to their agreed upon specifications. 

For example, Internet Explorer generally requires a great deal of rework from a development perspective. The version of Internet Explorer being used can hugely impact the processing of CSS, JavaScript and HTML. Now you are wondering how these languages fit into the building of your site, right?  At the risk of over simplifying it for you, CSS is the front end of the site – how your site looks and feels.  Its overall layout and any responsive styling is also controlled via CSS. The functionality of the site is dependent on how the browser processes JavaScript.  Any interactivity or complex animations are taken care of here. HTML is the overall structure, or template, of the site.  Certain newer elements in HTML5 may not even be available in older browsers.

Even Microsoft is looking to cease all support for Windows XP and the 2003 Office Suite in 2014.  Microsoft even has a website (http://www.modern.ie/ie6countdown) with helpful tools and tips. Check out the site for compatibility mode and checking your URL as well as access to free browser stack tool for 3 months.

Many high traffic sites have sent messages (Yahoo, Tumblr, Yahoo, and ESPN) all provided a note to users that they need to update their current browser and that by not updating the browser the user may not experience the site as it was intended. 

We identified Facebook, Google, ESPN, Tumblr, Yahoo and Twitter as sites that no longer support IE7 and are moving away from IE8 in the coming year.  These titans of the web understand that in order to present themselves as the industrial revolutionist of their day they need to be proactive and embrace modern technology.  Things evolve because as humans we strive for faster, the latest advances in technology and sleek design.  

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