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We are considering the pros and cons of switching from XHTML 1.0 Transitional to HTML5 for our website (for instance, to enhance our SERP positions by using microdata and new specific HTML5 tags for better indexing by search engine crawlers).

The current web pages are well-formed enough, so specifying <!doctype html> and some "polishing" is the only thing we need to do.

However, as we can see from the stats for our website, many of our visitors are still using old versions of browsers like IE8 (7.3%) which may know nothing about HTML5.

The question is: can changing our website to HTML5 cause serious rendering and usability issues?

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Yes older versions of web browsers may not support HTML5 hence causing serious rendering and usability issues –  Computernerd Jan 31 at 16:59

1 Answer 1

You are correct, some older browsers like Internet Explorer 8 provide little to no support for HTML5 elements and other HTML5 features. There are online sites which can help you identify what's missing in IE 8 and older browsers, such as this one.

There are also open-source projects like this often-cited one, aimed at improving HTML5 compatibility for IE 8:

HTML5Shiv allows versions of Internet Explorer prior to version 9 to recognize the HTML5 tags and allows them to be styled using CSS.

You can use this by simply adding it to the <head> section of your pages like this:

<!--[if lt IE 9]>
<script src="dist/html5shiv.js"></script>
<![endif]-->

However, it is still highly recommended to test each of your pages in target browsers like IE 8 to ensure compatibility prior to production, or provide alternative content for these users.

You can test them using virtual machine (VM) images, or use a screenshot service to visualize the rendering of layouts like this one.

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