When to Stop Support for old Browsers such as FireFox 2 and Internet Explorer 6

Let’s face it- old browsers are a pain in the rear. Browsers like FireFox 2 and Internet Explorer 6 do not behave like modern browsers. They do not render HTML in the same way and do not interpret JavaScript in the same way. You can, most of the time, fix these issues, but the process costs a lot in terms of testing, development, and time to market. I was just involved in a project were a client insistent on going through 12 browsers and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for that line item.

The problem is that clients still use these browsers and expect to view your site properly with their legacy browsers. So, when do you stop supporting old browsers?

Option 1 – follow the big companies

Big companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft announce their support for legacy browsers. When they stop supporting an old browser you know you can start doing that too.

Option 2 – Check out browser statistics

If a browser costs you 10,000$ to support, but has only 0.5% market share, you have a good business case to removed it from your supported list.

Here is an example of where you find browser usage statistics – http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

Here is another example –

Option 3 – negotiate with your clients

This is a tricky one, business owners have limited budget, you need to agree with your business owner which browsers should be supported. If he/she insists on supporting old browsers they need to know how much they are going to pay for that, and how much are they going to loss in other fields, such as functionality.

Leverage your knowledge

Know your clients, if you are developing an application for Mac users, you should definitely support safari. If you are developing an application for internal use, you can mandate a much smaller set of supported browsers.

Rule of Thumb

As a rule of thumb, I recommend supporting at least two of the latest versions of most popular browsers.

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Amir Shevat

Amir Shevat is the global Startup Outreach lead in Google Developer Relations (g.co/launch). Previously, Amir Led Google Campus Tel Aviv and was the co founder of several startups.

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2 Responses

  1. koby says:

    option 2 is very misleading: the w3schools statistics are for their site only and does not represent real word situations, the say it themselves if you scroll a bit down

    • Amir Shevat says:

      w3schools can show you a trend, but you are right, I gave w3schools as an example and will amend the post to reflect that.
      In New Zealand we use trademe.co.nz statistics which are very finely tuned statistics to our market.

      Amir Shevat

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