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Bootstrapped Startup Saves Over $100K By Dropping IE

Interesting article at Techcrunch.  The only thing I’ll add is that supporting earlier versions of IE can be expensive. One clients wanted a web 2.0 interface with support for IE 6.  We told them it would increase the cost of the project significantly.  After we launched I sat down with the architect and learned that most bugs were related to IE and an overage of 30% was largely attributable to IE 6 support.

It’s not every day that you start a business and quickly decide to say “no” to 70 percent of your potential customers. In retrospect, this turned out to be 4ormat’s secret weapon.

At 4ormat, our goal is to provide an easy way for creative professionals to create and manage an online portfolio website. Although the portfolio itself looks great in all browsers, to this day, the portfolio building interface does not support Internet Explorer. And we don’t just mean IE6 or even IE7. We mean every version of Internet Explorer.

This might seem drastic, but consider this: when we started 4ormat in 2008, IE had almost 70% market share and IE6 was still used by one-in-four desktops. Chrome, for example, had only been out for 2 months. To call it drastic would be an understatement.

We were bootstrapping 4ormat in our spare time while consulting full-time. Every hour we spent on development was another hour before we could get the product in front of customers. We didn’t support IE6 from the getgo, but rejecting the 45% of people who used IE7 (and the newly released IE8) seemed like something that would cripple the business. The goal of 4ormat was to make building and updating a portfolio as simple as possible. To do that we wanted to leverage every possible bit of modern browser technology.

Within a week it was painfully obvious that for every great idea we came up with we had to create equally terrible hacks to support IE7 or even IE8. Supporting variants of IE can easily increase design work by 30% to 100%, but complex features can easily double (or even triple) development time. It doesn’t take many developer salaries before this “IE tax” can cost you well over $100,000. But the money you lose as a start-up pales in comparison to the time and energy lost.

Read the rest of the article for a cool graph and more detail.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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