You’ve probably already heard that Yahoo! Small Business is no longer supporting the Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) browser. Don’t panic. This change is not as impactful as it seems and has been a long time coming.
First of all, let’s go over what this change entails. The email Yahoo! released states, “Any merchants who are using Internet Explorer 6.0 browser on Windows XP platform will be impacted and will not be able to access their store control panel.”
Did you notice the Windows XP part? As you may also have heard, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. The 13 year old operating system was the last windows operating system to use IE6. Its successor, Windows Vista, came with IE7. That means that anyone using Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 shouldn’t see any problems.
What about the people that are still using Windows XP?
Even though XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and poses security threats, just under 20% of users are still on XP. The good news is that IE7 is available to these users. They can easily upgrade their browser or download a modern browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Opera – for free!
Yahoo! continues in their email to explain, “Additionally, please note that any visitors to your store who are using Internet Explorer 6.0 will not be able to purchase products from your site after January 9, 2015 without upgrading their browser to the latest version.”
Does this mean that my customers won’t be able to purchase unless they have the newest version of their browser?
Absolutely not. For starters, this email is really about Internet Explorer. If the user is using a modern browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) they most likely get automatic updates to the latest version anyway. What Yahoo! probably intended to say is that the users should upgrade to the newest version of Internet Explorer available for their operating system.
But, XP users can only upgrade to IE7…and we’re on IE11 already!!
Don’t worry, your users will still be able to make purchases using IE7 for now. Furthermore, there is a good chance that they already know their system is out of date and expect to encounter problems. Major websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Youtube have long stopped supporting IE7 and older. Most websites they encounter probably have some compatibility issues. That’s why most of these users have switched to Chrome or Firefox.
While we’re on that subject, let’s take a look at who is actually using IE6. Almost no one in the United States or Canada is using IE6. Worldwide less than 1% of internet users are still using IE6. Furthermore, over 50% of IE6 users are located in Asia. Unless you’re targeting the International audience, the percentage of your users that are using IE6 is virtually non-existent. On a similar note, according to the IE7 Countdown, its market share is also now less than 1% worldwide.
This is way too techy for me – give me the bottom line! Do I need to make changes to my website?
No, it’s not a requirement. But, should you? Yes, for two reasons.
- You need to be aware of how technology changes are affecting your customers. Do you know what browsers and operating systems your customers are using?
- You can be a part of the solution. Informing users that they that are using an out of date browser and directing them to upgrade helps everyone.
Chances are that this whole IE6 thing won’t really affect your business. However, the same thing will inevitably happen with IE7 and continue on down the line. To determine whether or not these changes affect your customer base, you should have an idea of how customers are accessing your website. You can do this by installing Google Analytics on your site. Google Analytics can show you the breakdown of what browsers and operating systems your customers are using. You can access this information under the “Audience > Technology > Browser & OS” section.
The real dilemma is that you’re trying to stay up to date with technology on your website, but you don’t want to lose your outdated customers. This also puts a dent on your pocketbook as it drives up web development cost to make all those cool new features you want compatible with older browsers. The less people using these older browsers, means it’s less important to support them.
You can help rid the world of these outdated browsers by simply displaying a message on your website only to users using outdated browsers. There is a great site called Browser-Update.org that has put together a small script you can run on your site to display an unobtrusive information bar to users with unsupported browsers. You choose which browsers you want to display a message for, or you can let it automatically update to keep up with the times. As a bonus, it also informs the user how they can update their browser.
Please visit Browser-Update.org for more information.
If you need help setting up Google Analytics or Browser Update on your site, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or give me call. I can help you figure out what all this tech jargon means to you in plain English. Stay tuned for more great tips and updates or subscribe and let the updates come to you!