We understand that you might be working for a huge mega-corporation, and that your IT department is overburdened and has limited resources. So, rolling out a new update of a browser for your organization may not be their top priority.
Old browsers are the absolute worst. The worst.
There are a number of reasons that they are terrible. They're slow and perform poorly compared to modern browsers. Standards shift with each subsequent browser update release. However, let’s focus on browsers in terms of what we do at NogginLabs: developing custom software. We want to deliver engaging, unique courseware that encourages true behavior change. In order to do that, we leverage instructional design, creative writing, programming, and graphical design to create online experiences that are unparalleled.
And then someone wants it to work on Internet Explorer 8.
Absolutely. The. Worst.
There are things we can do to make sure that users on old browsers are at least getting parallel experiences, if not identical ones. However, all of these solutions massively increase the amount of time and effort that we spend on QA. Designers and programmers spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out CSS fixes for old browsers. Each error we find on an old browser can be fixed, but then ALL of the browsers must be QA tested again to see if ANY of the other browsers are broken by the fix we made for the first browser. Which happens. All the time.
Ultimately we can make it work. It takes more time, and more testing, but if the older browsers are really necessary, we can do it. We’ll get it up and running on anything. The bigger issue is that WHAT you are getting isn’t as good as what you might get in a modern browser.
Graphic design in particular takes a hit. The ability to deliver visually engaging experiences is simply cut off at the knees. We have to follow design practices that are years out of date at times. We can’t take advantage of all of the bells and whistles of today’s amazing online experiences because we're developing for the lowest common denominator.
When we know that something is possible, something better, it kills us to leave it on the table. Knowing that a design choice or solution that is truly delightful and surprising to your audience cannot be implemented simply because of an old browser is, frankly, infuriating.
One of our designers*, Nicole Engels, summed it up best:
“Imagine being an artist, and even though oil paints and India ink and charcoal all exist, all you have to work with is a pack of classic 8 Crayola crayons. It’s even worse when you have multiple studios to create the same outcome in, but you can't use all of the tools in your nice, fancy, fully stocked studio, even though all it takes is a quick FREE download of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. WHY WOULD ANYONE STILL BE ON IE8?!? IT’S 2016!”
If you are personally running an old browser, please go and get the update immediately after reading this sentence. Okay, you’re back? Great. If your organization is running outdated browsers, it might seem like your hands are tied. However, if you're looking to create something on the cutting edge for your learning audience, consider making a case to the powers that be to get everything updated. You may encounter some objections, but fighting for the improved experience across the board can be worth it.
* I would not have been able to adequately articulate my hatred for old browsers without input from our design and programming teams. Special thanks to Nick Durst, Emma Pauline, Nicole Engels, and Joe Zimmerman for their insights.