Outsourcing IE6 bug fixes: good or bad idea?

I found a very interesting idea by Tim Van Damme, which examines the possibility of a service that fixes nothing but Internet Explorer 6 bugs, much like the slicing/PSD-to-HTML niche that’s grown in popularity over the past years.

I guess that’s how troubling IE6 has been to us. Who here hasn’t delayed fixing up websites to make them work properly in IE6 until the very last minute? Who here hasn’t cursed IE6 and Microsoft (and even Bill Gates) a million times? Who here can’t relate to the (humorous) pie chart below?

Time Breakdown of Modern Web Design

Time Breakdown of Modern Web Design

Clearly there are problems with such a service, like how it’s too specific and biased against a single browser version—surely there are other browser bugs a web developer must pay attention to. And how letting others do the bug-fixing for you might bring about even more complications and wasted time anyway.

Never mind how long this business will actually last. It still begs the question of how to deal with cross-browser compatibility the right way. And the answer is, it really depends from site to site, company to company, audience to audience. Some things to consider:

  1. Have you tried avoiding styles that are trickier to fix for IE6?
  2. Can’t you leave those rounded corners just square ones in IE6? Or make those translucent effects opaque?
  3. Would you consider doing taking more stringent action by dropping support for IE6?

I think Kai said it best, it’s “a business idea that shouldn’t have to be one!” But it still makes for an interesting discussion. When you’re faced with stumbling blocks while developing for IE6, what would you rather do, roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work yourself, or ship it off elsewhere?

  1. By Artem posted on January 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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    I don’t think it would be as successful as the PSD to HTML business just because IE6 is fading out with IE7 being the current version and IE8 on the horizon…while the PSD to HTML has no such decline in sight

  2. By Fredrik Karlsson posted on January 9, 2009 at 3:59 am
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    I’m never comfortable with letting anyone else near my code. Mostly because I havn’t met anyone in my near proximity who’s even aware of w3c-standards or IE6-bugs. So I prefer to fix everything myself.

    However, reading that IE8 will be pushed to Vista/XP as an important windows update, I’m hoping that IE6 will finally start phasing out this year… and that IE8 doesn’t bring any new bugs to the table :).

  3. By Waffle Pirate posted on January 11, 2009 at 7:17 pm
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    Personally – This is a bad idea, and probably a waste of your precious time. For one; Google have asked people to stop using IE 6, quite a lot of people use Google and IE 6’s market share is going to drop substantially in 2009.

    Windows 7 is introducing IE 8, and going by the great feedback its received – I can personally see IE 7 and 8 being the norm shortly.

    Good idea though. It would have been successful if you came up with this 4 years ago or so, no doubt.

  4. By larry grover posted on January 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm
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    I’d pay for it! Why not? My clients still ask for IE 6. Even though IE 8 is out, I still think it will be a while until we can really ignore 6.

    Who cares if it’s not a viable long term business model? Someone who was willing to spend all their time fighting IE 6 could probably do well for a little while at least.

    I do believe in the ‘code as art’ philosophy – but my time is important enough to me that I’d happily let someone else hack up an IE specific stylesheet..

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