The IE6 Incident

I learned a painful lesson this week in the name of user experience - it was an honest mistake.

I added a transparency based article component to the top of the D&TA homepage. I researched the component thoroughly; I visited sites using the component and read all the reviews in the JED. They were all fine except for the author’s refusal to support IE6. I thought nothing of this and went ahead and added it.

The first call came the next morning from a member complaining that the left side menu was appearing down the centre. I won’t go into details but in the end it turned out well over half of the membership where in schools that still had IE6. I standby the decision to add the component though. I cannot see the harm if we’d encouraged people to update their browsers to the latest versions. What’s the problem?

Of course, I didn’t take into account the logistics involved in letting these people know how to make the site work again. There were a lot of phone calls and emails.

Ian Malcolm

In hindsight I realise that at no point did I consider whether the majority of our membership would welcome this addition? Instead, I was too wrapped up in the new features that would enliven a dull homepage. In the words of Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park fame “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” No one listened to him and look what happened.

You really need to understand your audience, there’s little point me adding social media features if users aren't interested. Our membership seem to have accepted email and aren't willing to move forward into social. To many, it's a fad - something I disagree with but they're the users.