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I'm lead dev for a large website which has a higher than average percentage of IE6 users - about 4.4% of our audience. Our new version is going to make use of progressive enhancement - including transitions and effects as well as rounded corners, gradients, web fonts and other CSS techniques.

Obviously there are cross-browser ways to achieve most of these things which require various amounts of work to implement.

What I'm currently looking into - and what I'd like your experiences of - is how to decide at what point we draw the line between providing an enhanced experience vs just supporting the functionality.

FYI, I believe that this question meets the six guidelines for great subjective questions as defined in the FAQ. I'm after answers detailing why and how, not too short, with constructive comments, experiences, facts and references.

Thanks! Adam

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The answers in this question probably cover your question as well –  John Conde Dec 6 '10 at 18:01
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For browser that are considered "current" (most recent release of a browser that is still actively supported), we try to ensure that our sites always work. We do not, however, test in browsers that have less than 10% of our traffic (in practice this means testing in latest versions of IE, Firefox and Chrome, we've recently also started testing in Safari on MacOS and iPad).

For older versions, once the total share goes under 10% we stop caring if everything looks perfect, but we still want it to work. (Fortunately, IE6 no longer falls in this category)

Under 5% and we want it to work but only if it doesn't entail significant additional work for us (else recommend upgrading). Layout issues are entirely ignored if they do not impede functionality.

Under 2% and we consider it as being "not supported" and recommend people upgrade if there are complaints.

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What I've always thought was that you need to take in to account your target audience. If your users still use IE6, then you can't freeze these guys out. As sad as it is, IE6 is still there and still being used.

One thing you can do (and this is something Opera do on their websites), is you could display a message if the website is being viewed in IE6, basically saying they should upgrade their browser or use an alternative.

Another option available is to have your website "gracefully degrade" itself. Basically the site will have the same layout, but all the bells and whistles won't be displayed in IE6. If these users are viewing your website in IE6, there's a good chance they won't look at your website in any other browser, so they won't know it looks any different in other browsers. If they do look at your site in a different browser, then they'll think "Oh well the site works better in Firefox, I won't use IE6 on it again".

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In business, for many non-web related questions we often look at 80% cut offs. Such as, if we were trying to thin out our active clients (which clients produce 80% of our revenue?).

Your question is quite subjective, but for similar types of questions I'm of the opinion that 80% is a good cut off

I would add, however, that if you are a public work such as the electric company, or the school system, I think you have an obligation to serve more -- 95% would be a good goal. That still leaves quite a few people out of it, even.

Likewise, if you're an artist who may desire to serve up a state of the art experience, then it would make sense to put the onus on the user -- perhaps the 75% mark is good enough in this situation... I suppose. : )

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With a 80% cut-off do you mean if the user share for a certain browser is lower than 20% you don't support it anymore? Even for a relatively small website like mine with 90,000 monthly visitors that'd mean 18,000 won't be able to see the website properly.. that's way too many dissatisfied users imo. –  Stephan Muller Dec 8 '10 at 9:43
    
+1, Your figures paint a good picture to suggest a number higher than mine. What cut off points do you suggest? –  Chris Adragna Dec 8 '10 at 14:08
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Something I read recently which perked my eyes and ears, if the site has any possibilty of appealing to China?

"According to data from Web analytics firm Net Applications, 45.2% of China's Internet users still rely on IE6."

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