I'm trying to determine how often to show a prompt to users to update their browser.

I suspect most users will come to the site once a month on average to pay their bill. Some will come hardly at all because of auto pay. Some more often at certain times in their life to look at account settings and their profile information.

I'm, of course, focusing on IE. IE6 and IE7 just aren't supported, IE8 is unofficially supported. We check it but don't freak out if there's a minor bug here and there. Our computers are set to IE9 so that's where our focus starts and we move on up from there.

I think I have three options:

  1. Show it every other month. This way, the users who come monthly don't see it every time. The users who come less frequently will probably see it every time, but it's still not often simply because they're not on the site much.

  2. Show it once and never bother them with it again. My gut tells me that if I ask my usability study participants this is the option they'll choose. As we know, some users can't update their browser because of work or something similar and some just don't want to.

  3. Show it to them every time they're on the site so they're reminded that the site might not work properly. I just don't want to annoy them with a pop up every. single. time if it's bad practice. We all know how annoying pop ups are. Even if I did just a little bar across the top like this site (https://browser-update.org/) I worry it could be too much if it never goes away.


3 Answers 3


I would say once every visit.

They need to be aware of it but, at the same time, it's really their choice.

Tell them when they arrive and make it something they have to positively dismiss. Make sure you include the relevant links/instructions to make it easy for them to comply. But, once they've dismissed the message, leave them alone until the next time they visit.

If you want to find out why your users are dismissing the warning you could always ask them with a one off simple questionaire - something like "What drove your choice to dismiss this warning?: a) I have restricted access on this computer b)I didn't understand the warning c) I'm happy with my current browser d) I don't know how to upgrade my browser

Knowing why your users aren't upgrading may help you decide you future support strategies as well as helping to inform you about your users habits in general

  • 1
    like this answer, specially the questionnaire part, so will only add this: if this is for paying bills, chances are users will visit the site once a month, so every visit will in fact be "once a month" for most of them, which could be hardly considered an annoyance
    – Devin
    Jul 2, 2015 at 21:36
  • I agree with @Devin, the questionnaire is a great idea. Thanks!
    – Fletchling
    Jul 3, 2015 at 11:58

Since it sounds like your users are performing a fairly critical action on the site --- paying bills --- you should show them a warning every time.


Never. You should write your code to support their browsers, especially with basic functions like bill paying. You want them to give you money, no? Why on Earth make it difficult (or impossible) for them to do so?

There are several business out there that have lost my business for this very reason. I could buy the product/service elsewhere more easily than I could deal with having to fire up a different browser (with aggravatingly hard to use UI), just to deal with their non-standard site.

  • 1
    with this criteria, OP should support Netscape, AOL, Mosaic and other browsers just in case. One thing is offering alternatives to users, another is to have your alternatives rule your business
    – Devin
    Jul 2, 2015 at 21:35
  • Historically, developers would drop support for a browser when the browser's owners stopped supporting it. But now we're approaching a point where all browsers are automatically updated. Soon we'll all be able to drop support for all but the latest versions of every browser... And we'll still find something to complain about! Jul 2, 2015 at 21:52
  • @Andrew Martin: I don't know about that. I certainly would never use ANYTHING that automatically updates, because those updates frequently break things that I depend on. Then there are the "updated" browser interfaces that become completely unusable...
    – jamesqf
    Jul 3, 2015 at 6:14
  • @jamesqf you mean you don't use chrome? Any android or iOS apps? Any of the current Adobe software? Antivirus software?... The list covers most things these days and it seems like Microsoft is the only one not running automatic updates but even they are fixing that with windows10. Automatic updates cut support requirements and costs as you only ever have to support the latest version. It also means that you can fix any problems that arise and push the fix out without having to bother the consumers with patch releases. Jul 3, 2015 at 6:59
  • @Andrew Martin: Right, I don't use Chrome, and not many Android apps (and if one updated itself to the point where the UI was so drastically changed as to be unusable, as some browsers do, I would stop using it). But look at the issue the other way around: I can use the latest version of gcc to compile code that was written in the 1980s. Why shouldn't enterprise-critical web functions, like getting money from customers, not be written to the same sort of standard?
    – jamesqf
    Jul 3, 2015 at 17:56

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