I must apologize to the small number of my readers who are still on Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). If you are, you’re looking at a broken website with weird gray margins and a third column that resides at the bottom of the page. It’s a bummer, and I’d love to fix it, but here’s the deal…
Internet Explorer 6 is an 8-year-old, non-standards compliant browser. I no longer have access to a computer that has IE 6 installed, and Microsoft doesn’t allow you to run multiple versions of their browser on the same computer, so I have no way of testing my layouts in IE6. Just this fact makes it nearly impossible to resolve the broken layout – you can’t fix what you can’t see.
IE6 is notorious for breaking pages that work perfectly well on every browser that came after it, all of which are far more standards-compliant. Also, being such old technology, it doesn’t properly display transparent PNG files – this is where the gray margins come in. It’s possible to fix the 3-column issue (but not easily and not with the same layout), but there’s no reasonable way to fix the gray margin problem without diminishing aspects of the design that I’m not willing to compromise on.
I’ve always hated those “optimized for so-and-so browser” buttons. It’s always been my opinion that web developers/designers should do whatever is necessary to make websites work reasonably well on all current and most not-so-current browsers. There is a limit though; at some point, designing for defunct browsers becomes an exercise in futility. Up until now, I’ve always made sure my sites work properly in Internet Explorer 6, but at this point I can no longer justify the considerable time and effort it would take to get EcoVelo working properly in an 8-year-old browser. So I’m going to break my own rule and for the first time say my site is “Optimized for Firefox 3, Safari 3, and Internet Explorer 7“. If you are using anything other than one of these current browsers, all bets are off. And if you’re stuck on IE6, consider doing yourself a big favor by upgrading to a modern browser (they’re all free). These new browsers are far superior to what you’re currently using and they will considerably improve your web browsing experience.
UPDATE: The column wrapping issue is resolved (Thanks Colin!).