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I have recently built a template for a website that I see looks very different in different versions of Internet Explorer. I was wondering, as a rule of thumb, which versions of Internet Explorer are worth supporting? IE6 and up? IE7 and up?

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Personally, I develop for 5.5+. However, 6 is absolutely necessary. It still has a lot of usage in Southeast Asia. Source: ie6countdown.com –  Matt McDonald Apr 2 '11 at 17:40
    
Thanks for the insight, but most of this will be accessed within the United States. –  spryno724 Apr 2 '11 at 17:43
    
He was joking @spryno724. :-) –  klabranche Apr 2 '11 at 17:45
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 4 '11 at 7:42

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8 Answers

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Wikipedia has a list of resources that provide browser usage statistics that can be helpful in determining the user loss by not supporting certain browsers. The top ones are:

Once your site is up and running, though, you should use analytics software, such as Google Analytics, to gather statistics on what browsers visitors to your site are using so you can gauge how many users you'll be losing by not supporting certain browsers.

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I usually do >= IE7 as a rule of thumb these days. IE6 is fairly easy to accomplish but usually requires a bit of extra tweaking. So unless it is a requirement I leave it at >= IE7.

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Even MS is trying to forget about IE6. http://ie6countdown.com/

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And yet they still have yet to drop support for IE6. –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:45
    
People complain when they drop support for something that is three version old and when they don't at all even for something as old as IE6. :-) –  klabranche Apr 2 '11 at 17:51
    
I know, because some corporate IT departments are too lazy to transition. If Microsoft dropping support, IE6 would no longer receive security updates and IT departments would be forced to finally upgrade. –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:52
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This depends massively on the site you're making. A major bank's website needs to work in IE6. Twitter.com doesn't. If you're building a corporate intranet, some companies are stuck on IE6 for legacy reasons. There are huge numbers of variables like this.

Our rule of thumb tends to be "it should look good in IE7+, and be at least functional in IE6" for our projects, but it varies based on the client.

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Hmm... I'm aiming for a less-technical crowd. That being said, there really isn't a way to know if they keep the browsers relatively new. –  spryno724 Apr 2 '11 at 17:41
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If you are freelancing then you should in my opinion drop IE6,

the longer people still support it the longer it will still bother us.

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If you are freelancing then you should bring it up with the client and follow their requirements. –  ceejayoz Apr 2 '11 at 17:45
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What does freelancing have to do with it? –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:46
    
@ceejatoz, depends how much you need the work, I turn down all IE6 specific work?! @Andrew, if you work for a company you have to do what you are told, not what you feel you want to do –  phpabuse Apr 2 '11 at 17:46
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I don't know, do you turn down all IE6 specific work? That still gives it no relation to freelancing, nor does it answer the question. There is no relationship between freelancing and browser support. Who says the asker isn't working at a company and in a position to make the decision? –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:50
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There's no one good answer to a question like that. Who is your target audience? Where will they be accessing the site from (home computers where they can control the browser, or work where they might be forced to use older browsers)? Will the functionality suffer with old browser support?

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My target audience will be Biomedical students, who will most likely access this site from a home computer. –  spryno724 Apr 2 '11 at 17:43
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Design with baseline CSS and HTML and with a serverside component. Progressively enhance functionality with JavaScript and HTML5/CSS3 shizzle. It will work in antiquated browsers, but may not look great. You should always aim for functional, but not hold yourself back on aesthetics.

Your audience will not be comparing the site in IE6 and Chrome, anyone stuck with IE 5.5/6.0 is already in for a world of pain in the web and will expect nothing less.

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Here is a great site helping with browser states. I selected IE for the link:

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_explorer.asp

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That's inaccurate as it's only based on the data from visitors to their own site. –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:39
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Those stats are pretty useless, as almost everyone going to that website will be a web developer. Massively skews the data. –  ceejayoz Apr 2 '11 at 17:39
    
Makes sense why their Firefox is higher the some of my state reports. –  JTWebMan Apr 2 '11 at 17:43
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Also, obligatory: W3 FOOLS! –  Andrew Marshall Apr 2 '11 at 17:46
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"Here is a great site... " and then W3 Schools. That's just absurd :) –  Šime Vidas Apr 2 '11 at 18:05
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