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History repeating

Remember back to the days when Internet Explorer was rising to prominence? They were the days when we obstreperous Netscape lovers would code our sites with a bird-flipping “Looks best in Netscape Navigator” badge placed prominently on our then–all-the-rage Flash intro pages… despite the sad fact that our preferred browser was on its way out the door, and we’d become IE coders soon.

It happened again when IE reached its peak at the turn of the century, on pages all around the web where obstinate or lazy programmers ‘recommended’ Internet Explorer for viewing their sites. Quite often this recommendation amounted to absolutely nothing —the site looked and operated perfectly in any other browser on the market— and the badge simply told you the developer didn’t even test in another browser; the “I can satisfy 97% of the market with this design, what do those other 3% expect of me?” mentality that caused such stagnation in our sphere. It wasn’t proactive, it wasn’t rebellious, it was just crap.

And now, finally, it’s come back around. That 97% is dropping steadily, the Get Firefox badges are out in full force, and that class of web designer that doesn’t give a damn about the status quo is all but ignoring Internet Explorer’s rendering of his sites. On a bad day, I’m one of them. Client sites are still hacked out the wazoo, obviously, but I sincerely doubt decaf has ever rendered ‘properly’ in Internet Explorer at all. With a few more personal projects in the pipeline, I can’t see that attitude changing.

My thinking, warped and selfish as it may be, is that an Internet Explorer user who sees a site as being ‘broken’ in his browser has all the more reason to cross over. “More features”, “more secure”, and “extensible” aren’t compelling enough arguments to the user who just doesn’t care (and I know a lot of them, sadly), but the difference between a broken web and a beautiful web just might be. And thankfully, the technically ignorant of the world always ask the advice of the technically savvy — and the savvy are uniting on this one.