limited graphic support…
…but full access to content
Old and obsolete browsers with limited capabilities with regard to web standards as they stand at present, get very little “design” on this site.
UPDATE: as of August 2016 IE8 and older versions will render pages on this site unstyled – stylesheets are disconnected.
Main reason for “disgraceful degradation” in old browsers, is that few old browsers can be properly isolated from latest versions and styled on their own. This means old browsers put severe limitations on what can be done if given full access to design, and degrading design in latest browser versions for the sake of a few old ones is not an option.
As even very, very old and very obsolete browsers get access to all content they can make any use of – in line with the latest and greatest browsers released at any given time, I have no problem flagging an “any browser” banner here and there on this site even though pages appear far from identical in all browsers on earth.
any browser you like
If you see this image on every page, you should not be in any doubt what it means. The browser is yours, and the support is minimal indeed.
For the life of me I can't see why anyone is using crappy old browsers for anything but to test how crappy they are, but it isn't my business so … carry on.
If by chance you happen to see any of these images on all
pages, chances are you already know all too well how crappy your browser is.
See the message imprinted in those images as a reminder, and carry on.
The fact that you can see these images at all – or read the equivalent text, here, on this page, as a big plus, because it means your browser has access. No closed doors around here, but also very few hacks and workarounds to help out old and weak browsers in the graphic design department.
the problem with old browsers
Browsers tend to mess up what they do not fully support, and old browser variants/versions naturally are behind on web standards. Some tiny bit of unsupported or wrongly supported CSS can result in unreadable web pages in complex designs, and it is impossible to fix things browser version by browser version without introducing “version‐forking” based on browser detection – a very unreliable “solution” no matter how it is implemented.
I will not restrict my future design options, and “version‐forking” is not an option. Thus, either I let all old browsers render a mess, or I reduce the chance of old browsers getting access to design‐details they can mess up even if that means they also do not get access to design parts they can handle reasonably well. I chose the latter on this site, and the logical barrier became mediaqueries since those are used to tailor my responsive design anyway.
This is not a perfect barrier by any means. My favorite browser has for instance supported large parts of mediaquery standards since long before any other browser did, and older versions of my favorite browser will therefore get access to design‐details they definitely can not handle. So be it … few Opera users are stuck in the past anyway so the problem is minimal.
Advancement in content inclusions on web sites will also cause problems in older browsers, as there isn't always ways to avoid serving content “old browsers can't make heads or tails of” when advancing things in new browser versions.
Not much of a problem yet on this site, apart from IE6 and older making a mess of alpha‐transparency PNG images, and that it and other old browsers are messing up some Unicode in text.
If I include content old browsers can't handle, they will get fallbacks, workarounds or whatever that can be implemented via standardized methods without causing problems for new browsers. If no suitable methods exist, or I find them too cumbersome to implement, old browsers won't get any help.
anyone can do better
That “everyone and their dog” who is ever so slightly involved in web design, can claim that they can do better than this for old and obsolete browsers, does not bother me one iota. Believe me, I can do too – much, much better.
However, creating and maintaining web sites where every little design and content detail has to be checked, maybe altered, rechecked, left out or workarounds included, because one of the hundreds of old browser versions won't play nice with something based on new standards, is something I have spent far too much time on over the years.
The last Ford model “T” left the assembly line a very, very long time ago. Time to move on, leave nostalgic stupidity and obsolete browsers behind, and support what little progress there is across browser‐land.
Weeki Wachee 04.may.2012
16.may.2012 - minor article revision and added screenshots in addendum
17.jul.2012 - page totally rewritten to reflect changes in site policy
19.jul.2012 - minor revision
27.feb.2013 - minor revision related to IE10
11.mar.2014 - minor revision
17.mar.2014 - added IE6 countdown in addendum
18.aug.2016 - UPDATE added - dropped IE8- support.
last rev: 18.aug.2016