Posts Tagged ‘web standards


Internet Explorer Beta 2 has landed: Things e-marketers should know.

I’ve recently installed and am currently using IE8 (Beta 2). Have to admit it’s not bad at all, but it did break my blog 🙂 (see below – That’ll serve me right for using generic wordpress CSS…)

Good news is “Compatibility View” allows users to still view any websites which have’t yet been optimised as the site’s designers meant them to be viewed  – which will be most IE optimised sites since IE8 is still in beta.

Anyway, there’s a few things e-marketing managers should keep in mind about the world’s most popular browser. I’ll go over a couple more in the coming weeks, but for now, the main thing you need to know is…

“IE8 will break the internet”

Well, that’s not strictly true, but this melodramatic phrase, used quite a bit on blogs and tech news sites over the past 6 months, sums up what pretty well the main thing e-marketers should be aware of and acting on before IE8’s RTW (release to web) version. 

What does “IE8 will break the Internet” mean?

In a nutshell, it’s a reference to old versions of Internet Explorer (IE7 and earlier) that were not strictly web standards compliant. We have ‘web standards’, created and championed by not-for-profit organisations like the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in order to ensure the web remains accessible, interoperable and predictable. I’m no web standards expert so I can’t tell how to make sure your site is standards compliant, but most web developers really should be at least familiar with web standards guidelines (if they aren’t, there’s an extremely comprehensive guide at

You don’t, however, need to be a web standards expert to know if your site is going to be OK or not – the easy way to test is to simply download the IE8 beta2 from  

Anyway, let’s get away from standards and back to IE8. Internet Explorer is the most popular browser on earth, so many companies / web developers / web designers in the past optimised their sites to run in IE. Since IE has not traditionally been 100% web standards friendly, these IE optimised sites were of course in turn not necessarily built to comply to web standards. With IE8 now focusing on web standards compliance, there are fears some these old IE optimised sites will ‘break’ when viewed in standards compliance mode (which will be the browser’s default mode) in IE8.

And break some sites have (for example, see my screengrab at the top of the page). You can see that the ‘breakage’ in this case, and indeed in most cases I’ve come across, is not all that dramatic – definitely not deserving of the doomsayer’s “IE8 will break the Internet” monicker. However, it’s the small things that count online, so things like having a text box out of alignment can really detract from an otherwise beautiful site. Like it or not, little errors in wen design and development reduce your credibility, no matter what sort of business you run.

As a stopgap measure, the IE team have built in a “Compatibility View” into IE8 which shows broken sites as they were originally designed to be shown (this concept is called backwards compatibility). Whilst it may be tempting then to just leave your site as it currently is and rely on viewers to click on the Compatibility View button (see picture below) to view the site properly, the reality is IE8’s new features will take users a while to learn… alot of users are going to be viewing your broken page before they work out what Compabtility View is. And knowing how many people are using Internet Explorer, this could well result in loss of business (or at least an unprofessional-looking online experience for up to a billion or so browsers).

 Compatibility View in IE8

Don’t Panic!

The good news is this- IE8 is only in beta so you’ve still got time to get your web developers / agency fixing things up all purty before IE8 gets wider adoption and Joe Average starts using it (at the moment, you’ll see techies and early adopters using the beta2, meaning the scale of breakage is still small).

Swing back in the next couple of days and I’ll have a blog post on ‘Web Slices’ in IE8, what they are, and why marketers should know about them. Hopefully I might also have worked out how to update (or at least change) the CSS of my blog so it looks how it should 🙂

EDIT: Whilst it’s a few months old now, I came across this article about the 3 modes the IE8 team built into the product to try to minimise breakage. It’s a good read for better insight into how IE8 is trying to avoid breakage.

EDIT 2 – 18/9/08: For the developers amongst you (if any actually read this blog) there’s a highly comprehensive MSDN page covering IE and compatitibility at


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