The case for checking on older browsers

By Tim Priebe on September 5, 2008

By Tim Priebe on September 5, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before, we check our websites in six different browser / operating system combinations. Just the other day, my programmer asked me if we could stop checking in one of Opera. For Internet Explorer 6.0, there’s even an IE Death March website dedicated to telling others they should stop checking their websites in that browser.

To make things even more confusing, Wikipedia’s page of browser comparisons lists a whopping thirty-five current web browsers. Which ones should you check your website on?

Although we do take into account usage, as I mentioned before, we also take into account how easy it is to code for that browser. It’s a balance between the two. There are currently seven different programs on the browser usage list at We check five of those seven. I’m going to talk about a three that are outliers in either usage, ease of coding, or both.

Internet Explorer 6.0

IE6 is a pain to code for. Thus the previously mentioned IE Death March website. However, it still has a significant market share, somewhere around 25% of the web surfers out there. Although it frequently frustrates our programmer (and many other programmers around the world), we continue to make sure our websites work in IE6, because we don’t want 1/4 of the website’s visitors to get less than the full intended effect of the website.

Internet Explorer 5.0

If you can imagine that IE6 is hard to code for, just imagine how much harder IE5 is. Combine that with the fact that it has less than a 0.5% market share makes it obvious why we don’t bother checking our sites in IE5.


Opera has a relatively small market share at 1.9%. However, it is fairly “standards compliant.” Simply, this means that once you code for other browsers that comply well with the web standards, (Firefox and Safari in our case), 99% of the time the website works correctly in Opera as well. So the low cost in terms of time means that we still check in Opera, despite its low market share.

Hopefully this gives you some indication why we check in the browsers we check in.

Graphic from here.


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