Tutorial :How best to convince people to upgrade IE?



Question:

I recently asked a question that got shot down for being too strongly worded. I'm having another go today because it's something I really am concerned about and I really do want feedback and ideas from the smart people on SO.

IE6 isn't quite the bane of my existence, but it's close. I'm a web-developer and spend too much time fixing things for IE6. Considering its age and relative quality, I'm shocked so many people are still using it.

I understand that some companies still use it for legacy internal webapp support but I've found two companies now that haven't upgraded solely because XP's automatic updates doesn't offer it by default (you have to go through the browser-based Windows Update to install IE7/8).

So forgetting those that need it, how would you convince an individual or organisation to upgrade to a newer version of IE?

Do warning banners work? I've considered skipping doing the IE6-fixing before and putting a "This site works best in..." statement up but surely having a poorly-rendered site makes me and/or my client look bad, not IE6.

There are also people who don't need to keep IE6 but cannot upgrade because they're in a controlled environment. What is the best way to influence them enough to get their admins to do something about the problem?

Note: As I said last time, I don't care about moving these people to another browser. I don't mind giving them the option but this certainly isn't supposed to be a Firefox/FOSS uber-alles thread.

I'm also not looking for a fight, just constructive ideas on making business types aware of browser technologies in the least damaging way.

Edit: There are a couple of "you can't force it" answers. I agree, but I feel I could influence it. I tell people when I see IE6 but I'm not sitting behind every IE6 user that accesses a site I've made.

Consider health warnings on cigarettes. They don't force people to stop smoking but they do educate in a succinct and (nowadays) fairly brutal way. There's no doubt that educating people has had a massive effect on the numbers of smokers.

IE6 is a lot less addictive than smoking so, yeah, pushing the education idea seems like it might be able to influence the right people to do the right thing.


Solution:1

Ignoring installations where IE6 is mandated, consider segmenting your application, with basic (though non-buggy and usable) functionality available to IE6 users, and advanced functionality available only to newer browsers. Draw users to newer browsers with the promise of cool stuff.


Solution:2

You can't force them, especially if IT in their companies mandates IE6.

EDIT: I agree about educating people, but although someone is educated, he still can't upgrade unless IT allows it.


Solution:3

Well, you could always tell them it is 8 years old. Probably older than their TV or car. Most people will willing upgrade to a newer model if they can get it free. Just put it in terms of other things (like cars and TVs) to get them an idea of how old it really is. This should work well with upper management types as they lose alot of technical focus...usually. :)


Solution:4

Simple sales.

You have to find what motivates your users, and demonstrate to them how upgrading will benefit them.

The problem is for the users you're targeting (non-tech savvy usually, or else corporate policy bound), there isn't much to motivate them, other than scare tactics I suppose.

You could write very simple easy to maintain pages for IE only, and save the cool stuff for other browsers, and show them a preview of what another browser could do...


Solution:5

Here's a good one: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 will not support IE6.

This will force the majority of most large companies to upgrade.


Solution:6

Oli,

I have been in your situation before. In all cases, I make sure my CSS and Javascript renders and works well in IE6, but then I add progressive enhancements for later browsers. Then I entice the customer by saying "I've added some extra things which you can see in newer browsers". This itself at most times makes them intrigued to make the switch.


Solution:7

Download IE8, Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox and show them how much faster they render a page than IE6.

Tell them that request caching does not work correctly with IE6 either (if you're using IIS)

But in all honesty, show them the speed of the newer browsers, especially if you are doing anything with a lot of javascript. The new rendering speeds are phenomenal.


Solution:8

GMail showed IE6/7 users a small unobtrusive notification to the effect of, "Want your GMail to work better/faster? Click here". The landing page offered upgrades to Chrome, FF3, and IE8.

I think if more sites spread the word about the end-user benefits of installing free, upgraded software from trusted names; that would go a very long way.


Solution:9

I think the best you can hope for is hacking the CSS, but using a banner.

A Note to Everyone: Friends don't let friends use IE6.

MouseOver Readers FTW!


Solution:10

I think for now the best thing is to deal with it. I'd try to make your site fully compatible with IE6 & up. But, you could still include browser detection in the site that tells the user that they're using a browser that may not work properly for your site.

I've seen sites do this before. Bank of America's online banking comes to mind. In the past they'd put up a message to this affect when you ran Google Chrome. You can have a warning message stating that the site may not work properly with your browser, even though it does for the most part. This is one way to encourage the user to upgrade. But it's a fine line. If you overdo it you'll inevitably scare off some users who are unwilling or unable (think public libraries, schools, etc) to upgrade their browser.


Solution:11

IMO, essentially you're just wasting your time if you try to do this. No matter how much educating you do, as long as Windows XP is the dominant OS, you're still going to have to support IE6, because a good portion of IE users are just using what came with their OS and aren't going to upgrade, period. You might convince some people to upgrade, but you won't convince enough to make a difference in whether or not you continue to support IE6. It wasn't until Windows 98 finally went away that IE4 could safely be ignored.

If Windows 7 makes a better showing than Vista did, then perhaps in 3 years or so we won't have to worry about IE6 any more, but until then it's just a fact of life you'll have to deal with. If you want to convince people to upgrade simply because you want to help them have a better experience, then that might be a worthy goal, but trying to convince them to upgrade so that you no longer have to support that browser will just be an exercise in futility.


Solution:12

I think you are thinking the wrong way about it. Supposing every one of us takes our decisions based on effort vs advantages, do you think that upgrading the browser (lot of work and very difficult for a non techie) has enough advantages to justify doing it? Maybe not!


Solution:13

All it takes is time, vista ships with IE7, windows 7 will ship IE8. Although corporations will not switch over overnight, time will fix this


Solution:14

If you're serving up content that your consumer base really cares about, but your site can't realistically function on IE 6, then I do a check if they're using browsers you don't support (IE 6) and if they are redirect them to a page specific to their browser (limited capabilities, not well supported, etc.) or just a page that says they're using a browser you don't support.

The point here is this: If they really care, then they'll harp on their IT department to get it installed. However, if you just let them use your site, but in a broken sense, then they'll just think your site is terrible and needs to get fixed.


Solution:15

My current company still mandates IE6 and I suspect that it is because they have a lot of internal sites that don't work in IE7. There is not much you can do about that. At least I can also use Firefox for sites outside of the company.


Solution:16

A few less fingernails and toes should convince them.


Solution:17

If you're the vendor supporting a web application which your customer insists upon using with IE6 rather than an updated browser, I'd say try to offer them upgrade incentives (e.g. lower support contract fees, a one-time renewal discount, or some "enhanced" feature set which would magically be enabled once they upgrade their lowest common denominator browser-wise).

I'd agree with some of the previous sentiments mentioned about warning banners, they'd be annoying and useless.

If the company is so big and/or bureaucratic that they are a hard sell in terms of upgrading, it might take years for them to get "current". A hospital I once worked for was just finishing an upgrade to Windows NT 4 while XP had already been out a year.

Personally, if I had any influence over such a situation I would enclose with my annual invoice a very obvious raise in my support or dev fees substantially every year IE6 remains in use at the customer's site, while at the same time presenting them the attractively lower-priced option of upgrading their browser right alongside.


Solution:18

I think that this is a problem that will sort itself out overtime. Newer apps are starting to use HTML5 features, something that I doubt IE will support within the next 5 years. This alone should start to move customers away from older browsers.


Solution:19

The best way I can think of getting people to upgrade awayfrom IE6 is to buy a new computer or upgrade their operating systems.

People don't keep IE6 because they like it. They keep it because their IT department requires it. This can be either because they have in house software which they cannot upgrade or because their IT department doesn't want to be bothered, but the former is more likely.

However, I believe XP is the last OS that you could get with IE6. Vista and Win7 don't support it so users and IT departments have no choice.


Solution:20

You'd think that tabbed browsing would be enough of a selling point.


Solution:21

The only way that you will be able to "force" upgrades is to create a must-have application for enterprise that requires the latest version of Internet Exploder to function.

Chances of that, however, are slim.

A far better option is to actually develop your web application with your target market in mind. If you are developing a product for enterprise where legacy browsers are the norm, then develop to cater for that.

You can only go so far in holding your visitors hand. If they are not willing to change their behaviour with browser choice then it really is not your problem.

At the end of the day, if we decided that we absolutely must cater for everyone, then you can forget all about any of the advancements that have been made in browser technology over the last 15 years and have (close on) 100% coverage. But thats just ridiculous.

Basically - develop for your target market using cross-browser compatible technologies and degrade functionality/styling as neccessary - and realise that you can't please everybody all the time


Solution:22

i think the best way is to repackage your site only for IE7+(displaying the old version for IE6) and advertise it on your IE6 site in an attractive way like "NEW" "UPGRADE TO GO TO V2, the NEW FEATURED THING" and other deceptive but harmless ways of marketing :P . basically, make it attractive for them to move on to IE7/FF/etc. or people wont think it would be worth the effort.

the move would be logarithmically or even exponentially paced, i.e as users start moving, more users would get convinced its worth it, something like peer pressure :P


Solution:23

You'd have to make a good argument. For example how FF is more secure because it generally runs using less privileges than IE6.

There was some funny img on digg, a notice from school admins upgrading to firefox, and that was one of the reasons.

edit: I use ie6update.com's script on my popular site to help those poor ie6 users upgrade :P


Solution:24

Are you aware of the Stop Living In the Past script? Just plop the script on your website to encourage IE6 users to upgrade, with a friendly, non-condemning message and link to the latest IE.


Solution:25

You could prove it to them by scanning their machine with something like HiJackThis to show them how compromised their existing computer is by not having the latest IE.


Solution:26

Simple!.. Newer versions have not been thoroughly tested and therefore are not supported!.. Newer versions of many software products also introduce unsuspecting passive features which are marketing oriented and even eavesdrop on confidential information!


Solution:27

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

-- Alexander Pope


Solution:28

You cannot convince people to upgrade. The only people left who have IE6 either don't care or work in large corporations/government who have no control over which browser they use.

A banner or warning is just going to annoy them all.


Solution:29

From my experiences, if you're having rendering issues, it's typically a deeper issues with your css. Typically, I make one stylesheet and it runs more or less identically in both IE and Firefox.

For example, centering a div using auto margins won't work in IE if you don't explicitly include a doctype. This is really a normal expectation for an html document so the rendering issue isn't an issue to begin with.

These sorts of things travel up the totem pole. Unless you're using ASP.NET web controls, you should have no trouble making your divs render correctly in all browsers using a single stylesheet.


Solution:30

Create one standard for the web. Then fix IE.


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