April 17, 2019 | Lauren Nettles

Why We Abandoned IE11 (And Why You Should Too)

Way back in 1995, Microsoft released the first iteration of Internet Explorer and blew everyone’s socks right off. Web designers and developers finally had a browser that supported CSS, and it introduced Java and applets to the world.

As Internet Explorer grew, it became known for its incredible speed, Dynamic HTML, and the fact that it was available cross-platform by IE4. By 2003, Internet Explorer had become the most widely used web browser by a long shot with about 95% usage share.

But 2003 is long gone, for which my hair and wardrobe are very thankful. My computer is thankful too because here in 2019, we have options for web browsers other than IE. And in fact, no one should be using Internet Explorer 11 at all.

Why You Should Quit Supporting IE11

Full disclosure: I was not part of the 95% of IE users mentioned above - long live Netscape - but I promise my teenage biases only influence my music choices these days and have nothing to do with me telling you to drop IE11.

Welcome to Memory Lane.

It has bad support

“IE11 will only be supported until Windows 10 reaches the end of its life,” says Ryan Ridings, our Lead Developer, “but that support is very minimal – security fixes and bug fixes.” While Windows 10 won’t reach its end of life until August of 2025, that isn’t that far away (I know, it’s weird to think about), and it’s important to start planning ahead.

“It’ll probably continue to get technical updates from Microsoft forever, but it’s pretty much to keep it at the bare minimum of functionality,” says Cody Rose, Jr. Front End Developer at VIEO.

I don’t know about you, but “bare minimum of functionality” isn’t in our mission statement. If you want to provide your customers more than the least possible performance, then IE11 isn’t for you.

It’s slower than molasses in January

Okay, I didn’t actually measure the speed of molasses in January, so I admit that my end of this research is flawed. But, according to Top 10 Reviews, IE11 “took 4.53 seconds to boot up and load websites.” While some sites “only took about 2.72 seconds to load,” even that lower time is double the time of the best browsers reviewed by the site. That means the 4.53-second average is about 3.5 times slower than browsers like Firefox or Chrome.

It's at least this slow.

4.53 seconds might not sound like a long time, but consider this: 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. The likelihood of page abandonment also goes up the longer the page takes to load. And when Firefox and Chrome can get the job done 3.5 times faster, IE11 doesn’t bring much to the table.

 

It’s a web designer’s nightmare

Because IE11 doesn’t support modern JavaScript standards, supporting IE11-compatible websites means you have to use the JavaScript that it does support.

To work in IE11, JavaScript has to be compiled to ES5 instead of ES6, which increases the size of your bundles up to 30%. That makes performance significantly worse for the portion of your audience that isn’t using IE11 and limits your ability to use the features that newer JavaScript standards provide.

Plus, IE11 doesn’t support a lot of modern CSS properties, which means you have to oversimplify your design as well as your code.

Worst of all, making sure everything is compatible with IE11 takes extra time on the part of the developer. So your development team is spending more time to make a website that isn’t as good – and, as we’ll discuss later, not many people are using – instead of spending their time on new features and improvements.   

To those of us who aren’t developers, just hearing that IE11 doesn’t support modern JavaScript and CSS might not mean much. But most people do understand that extra cost and time aren’t ideal.

IT HAS TERRIBLE SECURITY

IE has a reputation of bad security, but it's gotten even worse recently. Now just having Internet Explorer on your computer at all can expose you to security threats

John Page, a security researcher, unearthed an exploit in the way IE handles MHT files that allows hackers to steal Windows users' local data. And because MHT files are opened in IE by default on Windows machines, all you have to do is click on an email attachment to open yourself up to this problem. 

That's not even the worst part of this recent security issue. When Microsoft was informed of the vulnerability, they "declined to consider the bug for an urgent security fix." 

So, if you like not having all your local data stolen, consider not only dropping support for IE11, but also getting it off your computer completely. 

Even Microsoft thinks you should stop using it

Just when it seems like IE11 can’t have a whole lot else wrong with it, it’s parents are even giving up on it. Microsoft’s worldwide lead for cybersecurity, Chris Jackson, calls IE a “compatibility solution” rather than a browser and says the company is not supporting any new web standards for it. He even says that you should only use IE for sites where it’s needed and points users to tools that help you transition to better browsers.

Basically, IE11 now only exists to support the sites that use it until they’re modernized, and the people who made it are even saying so.

“If the company that made IE11 is now telling you to stop using it, maybe you should!” Ryan says.

He makes a good point. 

What About My Customers?

You’re right to be concerned about the customer experience on your website. If you stop supporting IE11 while customers are still using it, what will happen to those customers?

According to a report from NetMarketShare, less than 10% of desktop and laptop web traffic comes from Internet Explorer and it makes up less than 3% of all web traffic across all devices. It’s fair to assume that not many users are coming to your website from Internet Explorer, but it’s a good idea to check into your site’s specifics.

When we looked into our Google Analytics, we learned that only about 2% of VIEO’s visitors came from all versions of IE since mid-2016. That’s an incredibly small portion of our audience that doesn’t provide a significant portion of our revenue. Plus, the revenue they do bring probably wouldn’t balance out the extra time our developers spend making everything IE11 compatible and keeping it looking nice for the browser.

We’re a lot more interested in spending time and money keeping our site looking and working great for the other 98% of our visitors. It’s not that we don’t care about the other 2% - we just want to make the biggest impact for the greatest number of people!

In short, supporting IE11 does nothing to improve your website. In fact, it’s probably making it worse. Continuing to support the browser closes you off from using a lot of future apps, features, and design elements that IE11 isn’t able to handle.

If you don’t want to miss out on the incredible things you can do on the web, then quit supporting IE11 – with a window of warning for your customers that do use it.  

Explain your decision to no longer support IE11 to your customers, too. While some people may not understand the technicalities, most people are happy to know you’re putting your energy into optimizing their website for the largest audience, fastest load times, and best features.

Do you have more questions about how to make your website the best it can be?

We have the answers! 

Let's Talk: Contact VIEO Design

Lauren Nettles

Lauren Nettles

As VIEO's content marketing strategist, Lauren Nettles creates content strategy for VIEO and our clients. She works with the content team to create, document, and revise creative content strategies that help clients and customers better understand each other.

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