BUC v2, Luxury Web

June 02, 2003 11AM PST

There should not be a Browser Upgrade Campaign v2, and something we might consider instead.

Reaction to the latest Internet Explorer news has been very one–sided: this is a bad thing for developers, and we have to do something about it. I’ve been meaning to gather my thoughts and post something more in–depth, but that will have to be put on hold.

A meme was started that appears to be gathering steam. Ronan (zlog) first suggested it in this post on my site, a few people agreed, and commenters on webgraphics have picked up on the idea.

Run another Browser Upgrade Campaign, they’re saying.

No, guys, don’t. My reaction has been posted, but it’s worth repeating here.

The BUC was a success because it aimed to move users off of ridiculously old browers. One of the suggested upgrades was Internet Explorer 6, precisely the browser that will be targetted by this new campaign.

Repeating the same campaign would be disastrous for any credibility the web development community has garnered in the past few years. All the new campaign would serve to accomplish is to portray developers as whiny, never–satisfied ingrates who can’t make up their mind about which browser the end user should use. The WaSP’s efforts would be completely undermined. And what happens in 3 years when we have to start getting people off of Mozilla’s 1.x code base?

Let’s think more long-term on this. Destructive reasoning against IE isn’t going to solve any of our problems, it’ll only work against us. Instead, let’s address why a user might want Opera, or Mozilla. Sell a new browser to them by luring, don’t shame them into upgrading.

Start a marketing campaign. Run ads for the new browsers that point to ‘how to upgrade’ pages. Play very nicely, and don’t let any of the vitriol you’re prone to casting on IE creep into your efforts.

And for heaven’s sake, be thankful we’re even this far. Being stuck with IE6 for the next 7 years is way better than being stuck with NN4. §

My very first reaction on Friday was that in our day jobs, some of us have to use advertising and marketing techniques to sell our client’s products. We’ve got the collective skills, so why not use them to start selling high–end browsers?

Unfortunately my thinking hasn’t progressed passed the ‘basic inkling of an idea’ stage yet, but I started throwing out a few of my thoughts above.

But, as rough as it is, here’s my full pitch — the ‘Luxury Web Experience’ or something better worded. It would be an elegant site, with high–end design that evokes imagery of haute–culture, jewellery stores, luxury cars, and so forth. Instead of making the hard sell, it would focus on the lifestyle that everyone wants, and the message would be a gentle ‘you can have this if you download Mozilla/Opera/Safari/etc.’

There would be some supporting documentation on the site, steps for installation and focusing on features, but the main page itself would only mention a few of the finer features, and let imagery and imagination sell the rest of it.

There would have to be a supporting ad campaign, which is where the rest of the development community can really lend a hand.

The first selling point, and one of the big ones because I’ve had luck getting people to switch on this alone, is that you no longer have to put up with the annoyance of pop–up windows that the common man has to suffer.

Very rough thinking, and I’m sure some people will want to take a more pragmatic approach. But since we’ve used up our shot at the hard sell, this is one direction we’d be better off pursuing. §

6/4/03 update: Further thinking inspired by Jeffrey Zeldman’s Daily Report.