Do websites still have to support Internet Explorer 8 and below?


    I am about to launch my website. It's an academic site with expected user base consisting mainly of academics. It looks good in Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE10 and above.

    I just sent a link to my colleague who opened it up and it looked like scrambled egg. I discovered his work PC (in a hospital) was running IE7! I am loathed to reconfigure my site (it's likely to take a while and be very tedious).


    Do you think it's really necessary to still support these earlier browsers?

    If not and the site detects an early version of IE, is a modal dialog urging the user to upgrade, acceptable?

    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about webbrowser compatibility and support.

    In fact, the question is about user experience. In this case, user experience for IE users

    To make clear a point that's been hinted at in a few comments as well as answers - you need it to fail gracefully - it's perfectly possible to have adequate UX for a website in pure html (though there are many reasons not to). Similarly how does your site look/function with locked-down modern browsers (noscript etc.), and what are your users expectations?

    As someone who works with Hospitals, I share your pain. But Hospitals are usually stuck with what their IT department gives them, which is Windows XP, so they can't go higher than Internet Explorer 8 anyway. We tend to show a banner that says, "Your version of internet explorer is not supported, so some features have been disabled." and link them to Firefox and/or Chrome download sites.

    Just as a comment to those who say they need to just update: I noted to IT a year ago that they should update from IE7(XP). They said they were working on rolling out Win7 with IE8 soon. This has still not happened, so the majority of the company still uses IE7 and has insufficient rights on their computers to update this themselves. This is likely to also be the case for OP, so it would not be helpful to just tell him/her to force his/her users to upgrade.

    I recommend using the HTML5shiv as a quick fix. One of the main problems with the older browsers is they simply don't know what to do with the newer HTML5 elements, HTML5shiv is a little bit of javascript that fixes this issue (and a few others too). It may not make the site work perfectly in older browsers but it might just make it work well enough.

    This question appears to be off-topic because it is too localized. Whether to support a particular old browser has to be decided on a project by project basis based on target audience, technology, budget and a plethora of other factors.

    I guess the real question is whether a significant portion of your users is using IE7. Judging from your description you target academics in general, and I could imagine that most academics won't be viewing your site from inside a hospital.

    Have you considered thought that your site design might be putting form over function? In UX less is more. Perhaps a simpler layout would be superior in both usability and compatibility.

    If you need to test different IE browsers, this is a good resource as they have virtual machines for each version:

    I tend to go down this route; if Microsoft no longer support it, then neither will I. While I realise that leaves a lot of people in a hole, why should I bother supporting old browsers that are no longer supported by the people that wrote them? If you don't break compatibility through lack of support, then no-one will ever upgrade.

    My personal opinion, as a standards geek, is that any website should work on EVERY browser unless you're in a situation where you know that the customers' choices are restricted. If you don't absolutely need a nonstandard feature, don't use it. If you don't absolutely need the latest version of a _standard_ feature, be as backward-compatible as possible. See

    @keshlam "Your site should work on all browsers" is something completely different than "Your site should work on old browser versions". Also, Internet Explorer, especially old versions, is not very standards-compliant, making using nonstandard features pretty much an absolute requirement.

  • JonW

    JonW Correct answer

    7 years ago

    It strikes me that you probably should have researched your userbase before building the site. But hey, you're in this situation now so you need to deal with it as you find it.

    I am not surprised that hospitals / academic institutions are using IE7. Performing an entire refresh of the OS, browers, hardware etc. is a very costly exercise, so you'll likely find that many similarly sized places have the same situation. It's not something the individuals in the institution can likely do anything about (firewalls, locked down machines preventing installs etc). Therefore showing them a broken site and a dialog telling them to fix the situation themselves by installing a new browser when that's not something they are even able to do is just a double punch to the face.

    Depending on what your site actually does, it's unlikely that it is impossible to make it work in older browsers. If your target audience cannot access the site then that is not their fault, it is your fault for not doing your research and considering them in the first place, therefore you should suck it up and address the problem directly. Make the site work in IE7.

    It doesn't need to be exactly the same in older browsers. Users can have an enhanced experience in newer ones, but it should still work in older ones.

    Hmm. All good points. I think I'm going to have write some conditional style sheets. A bit annoying, but I risk embarrassment when I release this...

    @GhostRider It's better you find this now than when it launches and you get loads of angry emails from people who can't use it. It's too late then!

    Excellent point Jon. See my comment above.

    +1 "It strikes me that you probably should have researched your userbase before building the site."

    @GhostRider Note that there are polyfills available for some modern browser features. Depending on what exactly is breaking the site you might be able to fix it by conditionally including CSS/JS that polyfills the functionality not native in old browsers. Not knowing how you coded your site I can't really get more specific. If you're totally in the dark as to what the issue might be, you can use to check browser functionality of IE 7-8 to determine where you went wrong.

    Let me save you a ton of time, if you don't already know this hack. A huge number of IE7 bugs are simply `inline-block` not working, but the hack to emulate `inline-block` is `*display:inline; zoom:1;` -- append that to EVERY `display:inline-block;` and hopefully it'll make things look a LOT better. Side-question: how's the site look in IE8 and IE9?

    I'd like to point out that it's estimated that only 6.5% uses IE7 and IE8 combined. While it may be nice to fall back and support these things, you shouldn't break your back over it. Internet Explorer is now auto-updating and is on Version 11. Anybody stuck in these old browsers should upgrade eventually and used to seeing broken websites. Even Microsoft stopped supporting IE8 because of Windows XP support has also ended.

    @Howdy_McGee 6% of the world population is 420,000,000. That's quite a significant number. And even if the total number was only 100 people, that is still 100 people that you are refusing to accommodate.

    @Howdy_MgGee: The exact proportion of IE8- users will depend on your application and your target audience. Shortsightedness like this would appear to be exactly why the OP is having a problem! +1 to "It strikes me that you probably should have researched..."

    Downvoted for the attitude towards the particual question. This is not a generic "should I support my users?" problem. Testing for older IE versions is difficult if you're not running the Windows version associated with them, unlike all other browsers. I've worked in an environment like this, with all machines running XP, and the admin simply installed Firefox on all of them. Any XP machine today can be _reasonably_ expected to not be running the software it shipped with (see the `.docx` fiasco for an example of this). This is a problem easily solved with a conditional stylesheet.

    @ivy_lynx there are many ways to test on older browsers. Virtual Machines, old physical machines, hosted solutions... Just because it is a bit harder to test on these things doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. As a UX Designer (or whatever role it is) it is your responsibility to make sure what is designed is appropriate for the target audience.

    @JonW My point isn't that you _shouldn't_ test - far from it. It's that this particular problem doesn't merit an attitude like that, because it has to do with explicitly bad and old technology, which should not be running at all in the first place. It is a failure of the administrator in charge of the machines or ignorance/lazyness on the part of the user (running IE). Browsers are _free_ and all of them run on XP and up _except IE_. On this _specific issue_, it feels like complaining about IE7 support is like complaining about an app not running on Android v1.

    @ivy_lynx Most of the people stuck on IE7 or 8 are corporate or government and don't have the freedom to upgrade or install firefox for various (at least partially) valid reasons. It is not your place to say they should have upgraded, it is pure laziness not to test a still quite well used browser and make it basically work.

    This is descending too much into argument and discussion rather than brief comments on the answer. I'm going to clear these comments down, but feel free to move over to [CHAT] to continue this.

    @JonW the whole world doesn't have internet access, only about 2 billion people do, so 6% isn't 420,000,000 it's 120,000,000 much smaller number :P

    @ivy_lynx my test environment of choice for system testing is always a virtual machine with images of each target operating system.

    @GhostRider depending on your platform, it's often possible to drive an entirely different theme for older users. Several times a year I get WordPress clients who run into this and call me in a panic. For most of them, I just filter in a TwentyTen or Twelve child theme depending on the age of the browser. Unless you are on a really obscure or custom CMS platform, theme switching is usually an option if you dig around the code a bit - and it'll save you thousands of dollars in testing if you're in a hurry.

    @Gusdor thats nice, but not an option for everyone. I've clarified that I'm not _against testing_. My objection is to the attitude towards _this specific issue of supporting old IE versions_. Also, see this comment by the OP. Computers running XP today can be reasonably expected to be running a non-IE browser; I object to treating the developer as _careless_ when the issue is IE7. See my other comments if this isn't clear enough.

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