At Simpleview, we frequently discuss website development best practices and trends. After all, the current state of the Web is exciting - responsive design, mobile usage and more. Yet, some customers run into issues where they cannot use or even see the latest features because of outdated Web browsers. Additionally, many of their site visitors have similar experiences when using dated technology.

Many operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and Apple OS, come with a Web browser as a standard application. Upgrades and version updates are completely free. On top of the system's pre-loaded browser are other available applications for download at no charge - Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. The options available today are immense, which ensures for competition among developers. This results in an optimal Web-browsing experience when using the most updated versions.

So...why not upgrade, especially if the newest versions are free? There are few arguments against using updated technology with no monetary costs, yet those points need to be addressed to help combat them.

1. "The Browser Doesn't Work in my Operating System"

IT professionals and directors are responsible for many facets of their organization's computers and networks. Security, costs and maintenance are top of mind for those who excel at their job.

Those concerned with security may think limiting the amount of downloads coming into a computer, such as new Web browser versions, will ultimately reduce chances for viruses and other unsavory files to appear. This is accurate.

Other IT directors are trying to cut costs, possibly because of pressure from their superiors.

Why This Restrictive Approach Doesn't Hold Up

  • Older Browsers and Operating Systems Cause Security Risks - Using an outdated browser can result in staff using outdated operating systems, such as Windows XP, which will not run certain modern browsers. Cutting costs this way only opens up security flaws and compliancy issues, especially since outdated systems are typically not maintained by the original developers.
  • Older Operating Systems Can Support Some Newer Browser Versions - As an example, Windows XP will run the latest version of Chrome. Additionally, Google has made public statements that they will support their browser under Windows XP through 2015. Firefox doesn't work on some versions of XP, but does work on others.
  • Older Browsers Aren't Just Old...They're Ancient - Windows XP will not allow any versions of Internet Explorer after IE 8 to run. To put this into context, IE 9 was released to the public in March 2011 and IE 11 - the latest version from Microsoft - was officially released in Oct. 2013. This means those that are using IE 8 are using a browser that is more than five years old, which is nearly ancient in technology terms (not to mention how Microsoft is no longer supporting the XP and IE 8 blend, but more on that later...)
  • Microsoft Has Ways to Support Older Functionality with New Versions - IE 11 will even run in Enterprise Mode, which will make the browser emulate IE 8 to avoid compatibility issues with some software or applications that require older versions of the browser. This gives your team all of the access that IE8 provides with improved security and performance.

2. "My Browser Only Needs to Display My Website"

I get it. If you are at work and maintaining your organization's website, the only website that needs to correctly load on your browser is your own. Yet, this argument still has little weight.

Why This Restrictive Approach Doesn't Hold Up

  • Older Browsers Cannot Support New Web Features - New features such as responsive design and certain HTML5 effects will not carry over to an older browser, which limits your website's growth potential. This means the conversations you'll have with your web developers will always need to be limited on what you can and can't do for your website.
  • Not Many People are Using Old Browsers Anymore - While I think it's always a good practice to make sure there is a valid and supported version of your website for all frequently used browsers (include IE 8), this doesn't mean you should constrain your ideas to a small portion of the population. It's always a good idea to stay on top of your visitors' browser use with tools such as Google Analytics to make sure you are building site features to match the trends and keep your focus on benefiting users.

3. "Downloading Browser Updates Causes Security Risks"

As mentioned earlier, IT security is a valid concern for destination marketing organizations. Letting users download whatever files they want can cause havoc on your systems, allowing spam, malware and malicious sites to run rampant across your network.

Why This Restrictive Approach Doesn't Hold Up

  • It's Easy to Deploy Modern Browsers Across Multiple Computers - Most modern browsers allow for deployment and management from the IT team with ease.
  • All Modern Browsers Have Security Safeguards - Chrome actually boasts they have more than 100 policies to fit an organization's security needs. This includes choosing to deliver browser updates on a case-by-case basis and set up a master list of preferences. IE 11 and Firefox are similar in their approaches with group policy settings, administration kits and more. All of these browsers in their modern states have amazing measures against phishing and malware too.

4. "It Costs Too Much to Upgrade Our Browsers"

It's true. It may take your IT team time to deploy new browsers and associated updates on everybody's computers. This may include packaging, certifying updates, etc.

Why This Restrictive Approach Doesn't Hold Up

  • Browsers are Free Applications - The cost to update your free web browser is minimal in regards to the IT team's time required to complete an update. Compare this to the cost of creating new website code to support older web browsers and you'll quickly see the benefits of using newer browsers.
  • Little ROI From Writing New Code for Older Browsers - Since most of us don't have unlimited budgets, we need to be selective when it comes to the updates we perform to a website. Touching up code for older browsers will have hardly any return on investment, as most Web users (i.e. your visitors) use modern applications

The Final Point

It's pretty clear to move to a modern browser - it's free, more secure and allows you to experience the latest Web standards. Which one you decide to use is entirely up to you (and your IT team).