If you’re using any of the modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge, your browser is probably set to automatically update by default. Do these browser updates enhance or weaken user experience? It all depends on what the update includes. Such is the life of being a developer on the web.
Automatic Browser Updates at ZingChart
Tradeoffs of Auto-Updating Your Browser
Auto-updating your browser has pros and cons. Pros may include:
- New features
- Bug fixes
- UI improvements
Cons may include:
- Broken features
- New bugs
- Crippled UIs
As a user, I find it frustrating to install an update that breaks something that was previously working. And a developer, I find it frustrating to hear users complain about a broken website or feature (like charts) due to something out of the developer's control.
User's Point of View
As a user, the reaction of getting a browser update could be something like:
Yaay! My browser just got some bug fixes and maybe some new feature(s).
But the potential bad news for the user is that now when she navigates to her favorite blog channel the site could be down or disabled. Does the user consider her recent browser update as a reason for the malfunction? Probably not. Anecdotally, it seems like most users assume it is the content provider who is responsible.
Developer's Point of View
As a developer the good news is:
Great! Maybe now this will move some more users away from IE <= 7.
Bad news for this point of view is that without proper warning, you can be left cursing the browser developer.
Two Schools of Thought
Now that we’ve considered the pros and cons, the question is: to update or not to update?
This question is certainly not new. Some people love getting updates to their software, while others dread it or put it off for as long as possible. A typical view might say users must be the lovers, and developers the haters. But, there's a problem, I love getting updates, and I’m a developer. In fact, every morning I routinely do two things before I literally get out of bed:
- I read and/or delete all my emails so that my inbox size is zero.
- I check for updates and install them.
I love getting updates. To me it's like getting an expansion pack or DC for free.
I conferred with my fellow developers here at ZingChart and the results are split. So it might be less a question of point of view, and perhaps more a question of novelty. By novelty I mean that the non-updaters are prone to say things like:
If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.
Why should I change anything when I'm already comfortable?
The updaters are attracted to the novelty of getting shiny new things. As I said earlier, I love getting updates because it makes me feel like I'm upgrading or getting something new for free.
Here at ZingChart we push updates every month or so. Sometimes, these updates fix issues caused by browser updates. But the point of this discussion is not to establish blame, rather to accept responsibility. As web developers, we sometimes lose touch with user perspective and the reverse is also true.
What’s the point of this browser update discussion? Responsibility. While the responsibility falls on the developers to provide a website/application that is highly useable, it is the user's responsibility to understand that their browser affects the usability of that site or application.
To developers: ‘Embrace the ever-changing web climate’
To users: ‘Be mindful of the ever-changing web climate’
How do automatic browser updates make you feel? As a user or a developer. Share your favorite reaction gif with us in the comments below. To get the ball rolling, here's mine: