Although Internet Explorer (IE) has enjoyed a dominant position in the browser world for years it is quickly losing traction. Adoption and use of browsers such as Safari, Chrome and Firefox have been increasing dramatically. It's only a matter of time before IE is no longer the dominant browser.
So what does this mean for you? It means it's past time to start seriously considering these other browsers when it comes to your product/service delivery on the web. We still find several companies in the staffing industry that have 'IE only' products or have not even cross-browsered their website outside of IE. If you deliver a software application or have a website, you can no longer afford to ignore these browsers. In doing so, you are missing out on a large part of your potential audience and greatly reducing your customer satisfaction.
If, in order to experience your product or website, you're forcing users or visitors that typically work in Chrome, Safari or Firefox to switch to IE, you are greatly hurting their satisfaction with your product. Chrome, Safari and Firefox are modern browsers that support current web standards and technologies. IE (even IE9) simply does not. This means you're telling your customers that are used to a much more quality experience, to accept a downgraded experience with your product or service. Is this really the message you want to be sending them? Do you promote this message in any other aspect of your business?
As web developers, part of our challenge is to develop engaging and interactive websites and applications that work on all browsers and platforms. IE is always a challenge to work in because it simply cannot support all the new and exciting things we can do on the web today. In order to support IE, we practice a development process known as 'progressive enhancement.' This basically means that we frist build the site the way we want it to work in Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Then we have to go back and remove, or dramatically change most (if not all) of these elements for IE. Doing this greatly decreases the overall experience of the site and also increases the cost of it's development. The alternative is to have a consistent experience in all browsers, which means your website or product cannot embrace modern web standards and technologies. We think that's lame.
Many development companies stopped supporting IE 6 and 7 awhile ago. Some are now even saying they will only support the most recent version of IE. As more and more development companies continue to go this path, the support and usage of IE will continue to decline even faster.
Safari, Chrome and Firefox provide a relatively consistent experience due to their embrace of modern standards and technologies. They also auto-update users to the latest version. Further, their combined use percentage far outnumbers IE. Therefore, if you're building a new product or website don't leave out these 'other' browsers. If you have an existing website or web application, it's true that adding support for these additional browsers will increase your development and maintenance costs. However, the cost of losing customers and delivering a poor quality experience to your customers is much greater.