The three forbidden words of web design

Just as superstitious thespians say “the Scottish play” when they mean MacBeth, web designers shudder and talk about “other browsers” when they mean Internet Explorer 6.

IE6 has long been the bane of the web design community. You design a site and it works in Firefox, it works in Opera — heck, it even works in Safari. But in IE6? Anything can happen, and, usually it does.

It takes just a few minutes to download and install Firefox (and it’s free), but most middle-of-the road PC users are still accessing the Internet with exactly what came installed on their PCs: IE6.

As a web content producer, I’m often involved in evaluating a site’s design or redesign for functionality. I test in several browsers, including IE6. But often, if we discover problems, the client doesn’t want to take the extra time or money to make the site anything more than minimally functional in IE6. It’s ugly, but it works, so it’s done.

Jeff Starr, of the excellent design blog Six Revisions, has written a comprehensive article on “taming” IE6, right from the beginning of a web design project. The good news is, it’s possible.

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