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Very simple question: Should a website directed towards programmers and code enthusiasts require IE8 (and earlier) support?

To elaborate (on why to ask such a question),
I assume most experienced web users keep upto date with their browsers, I also assume most people do not use IE, which I know is untrue.
However my point stands; if the website is directed towards the programming and code enthusiast, should I waste hours of my time trying to add support for sub-par non-compliant browser(s) with CSS3 and HTML5 specs?

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Remember you can always discourage IE6 users with ahem style... *{position:relative} (Yes that is one line of CSS that crashes IE6 and no you shouldn't use it) –  Ben Brocka Sep 14 '11 at 0:32
    
Do you have Google Analytics or other analytic tools on your website? If you don't, then you really should. Analytic tools helps you make informed decision about stuffs like this, and not rely on the general statistics from other websites, which vary widely. –  Lie Ryan Sep 15 '11 at 0:48
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5 Answers

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"if the website is directed towards the programming and code enthusiast, should I waste hours of my time trying to add support for sub-par non-compliant browser(s) with CSS3 and HTML5 specs?"

That's exactly the essence of the question. Really, the most objective answer comes from the numbers, I believe.

If you have x% of visitors who will need less than IE8 support, you'll need to determine if your profit from x% of visitors (however you may define profit), justifies the time and effort you'll need to spend to add support.

If your site is used primarily by developers, it's a safe bet that--no. You should not need to support less than IE8.

On the other hand, your site's ability to be so backwards compatible might have an effect on your reputation for building sites--it shows your users you know what you're doing and understand progressive enhancement. At that point, it comes down to who your users are and what you want them to take away.

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I wouldn't completely neglect the users, corporate users are often forced/encouraged to use IE and if you're getting professional clientele you may get a number that view the site from work. I wouldn't focus on making the site look exactly the same, but don't leave any site-breaking bugs just because you hope you don't have IE users. It's passive aggressive design, you don't want to be that mean to your users. While I understand the pain of IE, the issues are usually strictly cosmetic or minor.

Also, don't think that just because someone is a programmer they don't like IE. If they've never done web development they may honestly not know how bad the browser is, and if they're an ActiveX, Visual Studio or Silverlight developer they may simply stick to MS technologies out of habit/simplicity.

I've had a computer science student straight faced tell me IE was the best browser and that all problems on his site were caused by Firefox and Chrome rendering incorrectly. (predictably his site was laid out all using tables and raw HTML style.) We aren't all, call it, enlightened.

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I'll give a philosophical answer here.

As long as we all spend hours of our time making up for the inadequacies of sub-par browsers, there will be no incentive for anyone to move to modern browsers.

In the end though, it's just a choice of how much of the market they represent for you and how much that is worth. Compare it to the time, effort and added complexity of supporting sub-par browsers and then decide.

For our part, we have opted not to support IE at all. 99% of our potential users are on WebKit browsers so we've just focused on that.

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Programmers within a Corporation may be stuck with IE8 and it was released in March 2009, so it's not that old.

I'm guessing your question comes off the back of someone (perhaps a manager) stating that your website does not function or look as intended within IE8 and you're trying to build a case against 'wasting' more time on backwards compatibility?

I think it's wrong to assume that programmers/code enthusiasts are always on their game when it comes to updating their browsers. In fact, my experience with programmers - especially development managers - is that they're too busy to constantly update!

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Chrome and FF give you a nice little reminder ;) –  rlemon Sep 14 '11 at 11:33
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@jaslr: it's more than 2 years old, that's ancient. –  Lie Ryan Sep 15 '11 at 0:52
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In theory, yes. But in practice, you only have so many hours in a day. Compatibility with archaic systems should be at the bottom of your priority list.

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