It can be tough sometimes for web developers. That beautiful/exciting/inspiring new site that's almost ready to launch looks great and works well in all browsers... except for Internet Explorer. Menus don't align properly, rounded corners disappear, images don't quite fit the same. It's a continual challenge to help IE fit in with the big boys Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
According to w3schools, IE itself was only used by13% of Internet users last month. With sites like Facebook no longer supporting IE7, developers behind sites like The IE8 Countdown, and its long history of being a troublesome development browser it's no surprise to see Internet Explorer usage steadily dropping each year. Currently IE8 accounts for 5% of all current browser use; IE7 is less than 1%.
How long until we're clear of IE8?
The main contributor to IE8 sticking around so long has been Windows XP. This operating system only supports only up to IE8, and is still running on a whopping 39% of computers today. The good news is Microsoft plans to discontinue support for XP in 2014. The bad news is many users will continue to keep XP running so IE8 will likely stick around for a long time yet to come.
Of course, XP users could switch to other browsers like Firefox or Chrome as an alternative to using IE. But users have their reasons for sticking with it.
The costs of working with IE8 & IE7
The stumbling point with designing, building and testing for IE8 & IE7 is that there are higher costs associated with your project if you want your site to work on these older versions. Not only do developers have to build workarounds specifically for this one browser, but as the competing browsers continue to release new editions, your site will require specific IE maintenance to keep the site accessible in the future.
Moving forward with your site
Is it worth building or maintaining a site with IE8 in mind? It really depends on your audience. If you have access, check your site's analytics and see who's viewing your site, on which device and browser. If you have a large audience using IE8 then you'll need to continue to meet their viewing needs.
If you're starting out fresh, it's a good idea to invest in testing and profiling your expected audience to determine how best to build your site.
Here at Fuse, we stand behind no longer supporting IE7 due to its low usage; as for IE8 it's a tougher call on when that will happen. But, keeping track of our clients requests and watching industry trends will let us know when it's time to pull the plug on IE8.