As business owners and as consumers, we all understand that browsing experience is key to engaging customers online. Technology has made us impatient, and we expect a website to deliver the goods immediately, on any device we choose, at any time. So why do so many website owners insist on optimising their site for an archaic web browser?
You should stop using Internet Explorer software as it is outdated, slow and lacking in the sophistication required for interactive websites. With less than 10% of desktop users operating this browser, Internet Explorer has had its heyday.
Any great web designer will urge you to leave Internet Explorer (IE) behind (as Microsoft and most of your customers have) and optimise your site to reach the biggest audience with the most compelling content. They would be doing you a great disservice if they didn’t. But why should we stop using Internet Explorer for more modern browsers?
Here we explain the downfalls of Internet Explorer and the benefits of browsers such as Chrome.
IE – The good, the bad and the ugly
Internet Explorer had its heyday back in the early 00’s when it boasted a 90%+ market share, so it’s legacy is well-earned and understandable. But nearly 20 years later, it claws less than 10% of desktop web traffic and less than 3% of traffic overall (source: Net Market Share).
It’s not a case of more “fashionable” browsers having a moment, it simply cannot compete with the likes of Chrome on any level – functionality, speed, security, market share – basically, everything required for online success.
As you would expect of software that originated over two decades ago, it has been surpassed by its contemporary rivals, being slow, unresponsive and sorely lacking in the technology required to power a slick, modern website.
Even Microsoft has moved on, with the introduction of Microsoft Edge and will no longer support Internet Explorer from 2025. If its creator has progressed, then surely it is time to stop using Internet Explorer?
In reality, some businesses cling to Internet Explorer for reasons that boil down to cost, to the long-term detriment of their business. Happily, there are some dynamic alternatives out there, with Chrome clearly leading the way in terms of function and popularity.
Yet, that all said, we still regularly find ourselves having to explain the decline of Internet Explorer to our clients.
Why web designers resist Internet Explorer
Any decent web designer will advise you on browser compatibility. Good web designers will urge caution about optimising your site for Internet Explorer. Great web designers will insist on not designing for Internet Explorer at all.
Hardly a career goal for the web designer who dreams of winning Google, or a reward for the business investing their hard-bargained marketing budget. The designer’s biggest terror is knowing that further down the line your customers will report that your website “looks funny”, adding insult to injury.
It’s not all about looks though. Speed counts for everything online, and we’re all guilty of letting out a little sigh when our desired content takes that extra half-second to materialise.
Firefox can load a page 3.5 seconds quicker than Internet Explorer and is currently the fastest browser out there. Sure, three seconds is hardly day-ruining, but it’s noticeable, and certainly long enough for the user to become distracted or worse, unimpressed.
Their whole experience of your website can be marred from the moment it chugs on to the screen and will only worsen when they discover that it is frustrating to use, and the content is dull. We simply expect more from browsing these days, and your web designer has the tools at their disposal to deliver this to your customers.
If Firefox is marginally ahead in terms of speed, Chrome romps home when it comes to market share. It’s where 60% of web users are right now, and where your website needs to be seen to have the most impact. Why invest in a website that won’t be fully functional for the majority of users? You may argue that some of your customers are still using Internet Explorer, but they are firmly in the 3-10%, so it is a false economy to concentrate your investment to satisfy them. Even if you do, you risk alienating the other 90%+ of users by offering them a significantly reduced experience.
If your web designer isn’t convincing enough, then consider that Microsoft has effectively put Internet Explorer out to pasture.
They have been phasing it out since the launch of Edge in 2015 and no longer provide security or technical updates for older versions. They will only continue to support the current version until 2025 when Windows 10 reaches the end of its life.
So, for businesses still insisting on acknowledging Internet Explorer in 2020, they risk throwing good money after bad in a few years’ time in order to fix the problem. This, if nothing else, should send a clear message that it’s time to move on.
Why do companies still insist on Internet Explorer?
As with any software, product or process that has been around for 20-odd years, it’s unrealistic to expect that that every user will move on at the same pace.
Internet Explorer was a trailblazer and widely adopted by business at a time when the internet came of age. It has since become ingrained in many IT infrastructures and so reluctance to progress naturally comes down to two things: time and money.
At best, these late adopters present themselves as out-of-date, at worst they risk losing customers, not to mention compromising their security. Microsoft’s move to phase Internet Explorer out will eventually force businesses to seek another solution, and those that are not making a move to do so now may find themselves in risky territory come 2025.
The pain of transition will be soon be forgotten when they start enjoying the benefits of the improved functionality that the new-wave of browsers can provide. Not to mention the significant improvement they will make to online security, a concern for any business that wishes to protect its assets.
As for smaller and local businesses, lack of IT and marketing budget can account for them still insisting on Internet Explorer, which again is understandable. Those businesses face the decision as to whether they have a future online, and it is the job of web designers and IT specialists to help them get the most out of their investment should they choose to progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Internet Explorer going to be discontinued?
Internet Explorer has already been discontinued, with the introduction of Microsoft Edge in 2015. The latest version continues to receive basic updates, but that will cease at the end of Microsoft 10’s life-cycle in 2025. At that point, it will operate at the bare minimum, leaving users even more vulnerable to security threats.
What should I use instead of Internet Explorer?
Google Chrome is by far the leading browser at time of writing. It boasts a 60%+ market share (source: Net Market Share), so it is where the majority of your customers will view your website. By using Chrome you will enjoy a vastly improved browsing experience, including lightning-quick loading time, a clean, modern interface, time-saving add-ins (such as an in-built PDF viewer), the option of useful add-ons, not to mention far superior security and privacy. It also runs on multiple platforms, including iOS, so you can access it from almost any device.
How Internet Explorer affects SEO
The role of SEO is to help search engines find your website. It can’t be achieved with keywords alone, as search engines are infinitely smarter than that. Internet Explorer makes pages harder to navigate and slower to load, so search engines will move it down the rankings. They are also geared to look for rich content, which is much harder to produce for Internet Explorer. Also, engines will favour sites that are functional across different platforms, so the modern browsers have the clear advantage there, too. In conclusion, if you insist on optimising your website for Internet Explorer, you risk being invisible to search engines.
Make the move to a faster, more dynamic browser today
Consider your own personal online experience. If you are still an Internet Explorer user, we urge you to download a new browser today and see the difference for yourself. If you are already a user of Chrome or one of the other leading browsers, then you will know how your online experience is enhanced and improved. Your customers expect no less and will reward your decision to move on with their attention and loyalty over time.
I hope this gives a clear overview of how irrelevant Internet Explorer is today – to business, customers and to common sense! In order to thrive in today’s online world you should be looking to move on and reap the many benefits of a modern browser such as Chrome.
At Targeted SEO in Southampton, we’d be delighted to discuss it further with you today, and we promise not to waffle on about complex coding. Instead, we will show you how we can deliver the most powerful version of your website, to the biggest audience, for the best return on your investment. Contact us at Targeted SEO today to find out more.