Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Do You Trust Your Mechanic?

Most of us have seen commercials about oils or other auto parts or tools, where the theme of the commercial is the fact that most mechanics choose the advertised brand.  Advertisers expect us to choose these brands because we usually trust our mechanics.  Why waste time using stuff that mechanics don't use or approve?  In fact, when we consciously choose not to heed our mechanics' advise, it usually has something to do with price.  Perhaps this will happen with internet browsers someday.

Some organizations are hopelessly locked into supporting older web browser technology; like IE7.  For what ever reason (price?), they have stayed on older Windows and IE versions.  For those of you not keeping up, IE7 came out in 2006.  So, these organizations attempt to use 2012 ideas to design and implement 2012 interfaces, and make them regress and work with 2006 technology.  It's like hooking your 8-track deck to your Bose Sound System.

For the uninitiated, there are at least two camps when it comes to web browser market share:  mechanics and customers.  Mechanics are the web developers, graphics artists, and programmers that make the Internet do the cool things that make all our lives easier.  Customers are, well, customers.  They are usually non-technical when it comes to web application development, and they use the most commonly available tool to browse the web in mediocrity.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, it stands.

So when we talk to customers about browser market share, in order to convince them that they need to stop dragging the IE7 ball-and-chain, we need to use the customer market share statistics.  These "charitable" stats show IE7 in a better light than the mechanics' stats.  According to most internet mechanics, IE7 is not just dead, it is buried.  In fact, most internet mechanics (that I work with) don't use IE anything.  We are instead using Firefox or Chrome, or Safari.  

I guarantee that our web browser experiences are orders-of-magnitude better than that of our customers.  And if our customers would climb out of their dusty comfort zones, and realize that there is a better class of internet tools available, they would also experience the Internet in a whole new way.  We could then deliver faster and more functional applications without needing to downshift.  Until then, however, we will be forced to sacrifice usability and user experience for backwards compatibility with backwards and outdated tools.  

The Internet marches on, albeit with some of our customers trying to drag it backwards.  Listen to you mechanics, and use the right tool.