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Accurate Browser Statistics? 137

Posted by Cliff
from the determining-browser-share dept.
zyl0x asks: "A co-worker of mine has been made responsible for a large web application for our software product, and he was having a hard time deciding what functionality to implement, and whether or not to sacrifice functionality for a larger user base. With Walmart's harsh stand on browser compatibility, we got to thinking, exactly how many users would we be alienating by using some IE-only functionality on our website? We tried crawling the internet to get some current, accurate browser usage statistics, but we could only find stats for specific websites. I thought I'd try sending Google a request, since we imagine they'd have the lowest-common-denominator in terms of types of users, but I received an email from their press department telling me that they 'don't make that kind of information available.' Where can one get a current, accurate, and un-biased measurement of browser usage? Is it even possible?"
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Accurate Browser Statistics?

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  • by Kelson (129150) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:26PM (#17986624) Homepage Journal
    Browser marketshare varies widely according to audience. And by audience I mean not just people's interests, but their geographic location. Opera is used more in Europe than North America. Firefox is used more by visitors to techie sites than by visitors to entertainment sites. I've got one site where Firefox accounts for 20% of visitors, second to IE at 70%, and another where Firefox is #1 at 44% and IE is #2 at 40%.

    Firefox, the second-most-used browser, seems to have a marketshare of 10-20% depending on where you look. So you'll probably be blocking at least 10% of potential users, if not more, by restricting your site to IE users only. And that percentage continues to grow.

    Keep in mind also that IE is only available on Windows (not counting emulation, which is of limited use). The Mac version has been discontinued. Unless you want to block all Mac users, you'd better provide at least Safari or Firefox compatibility.

    Also, any site that already restricts browser access is going to have skewed results, because the potential audience using other browsers has either cloaked their browser to look like the supported one, or has gone somewhere else.

    Since you say this is a new application, you'll want to get statistics from a similar product that works cross-platform.
    • More than Firefox (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kelson (129150) *
      I forgot to mention in the first post, that it's more than just Firefox growing [informationweek.com]. Safari and Opera may be relatively small, but they're gaining as well. And there are quite a few other modern browsers [alternativ...liance.com] around. You can expect several of them to grow over the next couple of years, probably at IE's expense.

      So even aiming for just IE+Firefox support isn't enough to be sure that you're not still turning people away. Fortunately, many of the lesser-known browsers share the same rendering engine (or a variation
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by JuliaNZ (17473)

        Safari and Opera may be relatively small, but they're gaining as well.

        I don't see this. I look after about 20 recruitment websites in Australasia across a number of industry sectors. (The sites are almost all designed and tested for a wide range of browsers, screen sizes and platforms so I'm not trying to exclude anyone at all.)

        IE is still a solid 85-86% on our sites, with Firefox breaking the 10% barrier recently. Firefox has been slowly and steadily growing in an almost perfect linear fashion dur

        • by mgblst (80109)
          I don't see this. I look after about 20 recruitment websites in Australasia across a number of industry sectors. (The sites are almost all designed and tested for a wide range of browsers, screen sizes and platforms so I'm not trying to exclude anyone at all.)

          Ahh, but as the poster says, you need to look at the audience. So, your statistics tell us what the unemployed use. This begs another question, is there any correlation between being employed and using Firefox? (nobody gets fired for using Fir
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:01PM (#17987168)

      Browser marketshare varies widely according to audience.

      I'll second this. I do a little work on a Web based interface to a security product for very, very large network operators who can afford to shell out the big bucks. A major portion of our interface was nonfunctional in IE for about a year and a half before anyone noticed because all our customers use Firefox or Safari or Opera or Lynx. If you're actually trying to find information that is practical for your application you need to look at your market segment and similar sites.

      Also, any site that already restricts browser access is going to have skewed results, because the potential audience using other browsers has either cloaked their browser to look like the supported one, or has gone somewhere else.

      Yeah, IE only sites skew numbers because people fake it or go elsewhere. Likewise, sites that are defaults for a browser (like Google for Firefox or MSN for IE) will have results skewed towards that specific browser, so Google's numbers would not have been all that useful to you. Look for a Web site that targets the same demographic, but does not have any of these factors to muddle the numbers.

      I'd also like to echo other people here in voicing another argument against IE specific Web services. No one knows what the market share in five years is going to look like, and ripping out your working solution because IE is down to 50% would be a horrible snafu. Further, as more and more devices start to provide Web browsing capabilities, like phones, PDAs, PVRs, and televisions, standards become more and more important. Your company itself could standardize on Linux from some vendor in the next 5 years. It doesn't hurt to be a little forward thinking and keep your tools flexible. There just isn't much you could not implement to be cross-platform if you have a competent developer, and if you don't you're likely to have all sorts of other problems as well.

    • Very good poitns here.

      Also, I know Safari is based off of Konqueror, and both are pass ACID2 (I think Opera does as well?)

      So by having one of these in your compatability list, that should implicitly add the rest, even if all are a relatively lower market share compared to IE/Firefox.
      • Also, I know Safari is based off of Konqueror, and both are pass ACID2 (I think Opera does as well?)

        So by having one of these in your compatability list, that should implicitly add the rest, even if all are a relatively lower market share compared to IE/Firefox.

        This reasoning is nonsensical. The relation between "passing ACID2" and real-world site development isn't automatic. The scope of the ACID tests is narrow, and it's a trivial exercise to produce content that adheres to existing recommendation

        • After one version of a browser passes ACID2, regressions can make it not pass again after a while (konqueror/kde3.5.6 does not pass ACID2 -- at least on my machine)
          • After one version of a browser passes ACID2, regressions can make it not pass again.

            While this is certainly true, it doesn't validate ACID2 as a reliable (let alone sole) measure of any browser's competence in handling recommended development guidelines.

            • I personally do not understand the whole point of the ACID2 test. It is not valid CSS, so it does not accurately measure how well the site adheres to CSS.

              • by Bogtha (906264)

                It is not valid CSS, so it does not accurately measure how well the site adheres to CSS.

                What site? Acid2 tests browsers, not sites. As such, it needs to include errors to test whether browsers handle errors correctly. This is not only acceptable, it's actually a requirement to be a proper test. CSS has defined error handling, meaning that the Acid2 test might be invalid code, but it should be parsed in one specific way.

          • by jZnat (793348) *
            Works for me (3.5.6-0ubuntu6).
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by MaggieL (10193)
      Browser marketshare varies widely according to audience. And by audience I mean not just people's interests, but their geographic location.

      Not to mention IQ and gullibility index.
    • by evought (709897)

      Browser marketshare varies widely according to audience.

      Another thing to consider is the reverse: audience may vary by browser. For instance, some studies have shown that Mac users spend more on software and peripherals per capita. Certain categories of users may have different amounts of disposable income and different amounts of interest in your product and that may be correlated to browser use, so alienating certain categories of users may have more (or less) effect than the raw percentages suggest. I wo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      So to sum it up:

      If your site is called "IEBugFixes.com", you'll probably have 99% MSIE visitors. If your site is called "FirefoxPlugins.com", you'll have 99% Firefox visitors.

      Just run your own browser statistics or try to find out the browser statistics for your closest competitors.

      The real important question is; what MSIE-specific features would you want to include, and do they really improve your site?
    • My experience is much the same.

      My main site gets about 80% IE. However, there has been a significant drop over the last year (from over 90%) - rather to my surprise given the audience (UK oriented and a lot of people read it at work).

      On the other hand, my blog gets about 55% IE. While not a techie blog, it does have pages on my Wordpress themes and plugins, and a fair amount of content that might appeal to a techie audience.

      From a financial point of view, if this is revenue generating, and operational geari
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:27PM (#17986648)
    Unless you are Google, don't worry about what Google's browser stats are. Instead, look at the browser stats of your OWN web site. Those are your customers.

    I''ll mostly refrain from talking about the monumental stupidity of using IE-only functionality because I know the Slashdot crowd will be (justifiably) beating your head in over that momentarily. Good luck with that.
    • Dang, and I was gonna beat him over the head, too. Too busy laughing at your reply to beat anyone. Well played.
    • Unless you are Google, don't worry about what Google's browser stats are. Instead, look at the browser stats of your OWN web site. Those are your customers.

      Well if you have a website that doesn't work well enough in non-IE browsers, most likely those users won't return. Which means that using your own statistics will only reinforce your perception.

    • I see your point, but most people use google, no matter what their interests are and if they are advanced users or n00bs.
    • Unless you are Google, don't worry about what Google's browser stats are. Instead, look at the browser stats of your OWN web site.

      No, this is bad advice too. Walmart's just built a web service that only works in Internet Explorer. How many non-IE users do you think they are seeing in their logs compared with IE users? Looking at your current users can only tell you to keep doing more of the same.

      What you need to measure is not what your current visitors use, but what your target audience uses.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *
        No, this is bad advice too. Walmart's just built a web service that only works in Internet Explorer. How many non-IE users do you think they are seeing in their logs compared with IE users? Looking at your current users can only tell you to keep doing more of the same.

        That's a good point, but I was thinking from the point of view that they hadn't already implemented IE-only stuff.

        It IS really annoying that Google doesn't release their browser stats; I don't know what their reasoning is on that one. I'd also
        • by Bogtha (906264)

          Google used to include some of this information in their Zeitgeist, for example see December 2001 [google.com]. But just because they have representative users, it doesn't mean they can collect representative data from traffic analysis. Browser market share data culled from web statistics is good for entertainment, not for basing important decisions on.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tverbeek (457094) *

            But just because they [Google] have representative users

            Actually they don't. Their user stats are skewed away from IE users, because IE's default home page (which a surprisingly large number of people leave as their browser's home page) is MSN.com and its default search is Microsoft's; and they're skewed toward Firefox users, which have Google as their default home page and search engine, and slightly skewed toward Safari which uses Apple.com as its default page but Google as its default search engine.

      • by tacocat (527354)

        It wouldn't be an unreliable user-agent identification if web designers didn't restrict the access of their web sites to specific user-agents in the first place. I see no other reason to spoof who you are other than to get around some artards notion of what browsers can access a page.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thus retorted the owner of the 10th floor stairs-only accessible wheelchair store out the window to a customer on crutches at ground floor:

      "Only abled bodied people buy wheelchairs! What the hell do you want one for?"

      And so ignorance becomes truth.
    • Unless you are Google, don't worry about what Google's browser stats are.

      Thing is Google probably has the largest sampling available meaning that their numbers will be most accurate about true browser market share.

      As another poster pointed out, your web server logs will reinforce the policy your web site's already had, proving nothing to PHB's about enhancing your compatibility.

      A good conversation with a PHB would be: Our users on our sites are 99% IE. IE is 80% of the market, therefore in the long run we
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tumbleweed (3706) *
        I wonder if Google's stats might be a bit non-IE-centric, though, as IE browsers default to MSN searching, don't they? I guess that might apply to any non-MSN site, though. It would be interesting to base stats on router traffic rather than web sites. Is anyone making that kind of info available for free?
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:33PM (#17986732)
    Is 1% of your expected revenue greater than the implementation costs of supporting multiple browser platforms?

    For almost every site out there, the answer to this question is "Yes". If you are in that situation, it would pay for you to use technology that would work on all browsers, or have a browser specific page with equivalent functionality for non-IE browsers. You often see Slashdot comments in these types of threads that say the "extra 5% of the market is too small for the company to care about". Sure, 5% seems small, but the costs of developing cross-platform support for web applications is usually so low that you're throwing away free profit by ignoring even the least-used browsers.

    There are other arguments too... Many IE specific features are annoying even if you are an IE user, Using technology that isn't standardized across the industry make maintenance more difficult across platform versions, etc... But really it comes down to the money.
    • Is 1% of your expected revenue greater than the implementation costs of supporting multiple browser platforms?

      The answer is more complicated than the question makes it seem; remember that the implementation costs to support a new browser could be spent on adding new features that will grow your market for existing users. Thus you have to say, "What does it cost to support another browser? What else could I spend that money on? Which gives a better return on investment?" If I can spend $1000 to add supp

      • by ivan256 (17499)
        Actually, the answer is clear that unless you're strapped for cash, you do both.

        Asking whether you should do one thing or the other when the two things aren't mutually exclusive makes for a great strawman in an argument, but has no bearing on reality.
        • Even if you're not "strapped for cash", the only time you do "both" projects is if you only have two projects. In practice there are ALWAYS multiple ways money can be invested to get a return, including investing that money in bonds or putting it in a bank account, and a company has to look at all ways it can benefit from that money. If adding support for a marginal browser would give a 1% ROI, but investing that SAME MONEY in a bank account gives 2% ROI, the business would be foolish to add the support f
          • by ivan256 (17499)
            Yeah, you're argument isn't a strawman if you change your argument. (Actually it is, since your new argument includes a strawman too)

            In reality it's neither as simple as your most recent comment or as my initial comment make it out to be. For example: A better net ROI doesn't necessarily make one decision better than another for many reasons. For example, a net increase in revenue with zero overall ROI will probably be a better choice for a venture backed startup than having the investors money earn interes
            • Well, I'll agree that if the question is "Can it be worthwhile to support other browsers in some circumstances", then the answer is simply "yes", however I think it's pretty clear that we're talking about a business running a website, and it's a pretty safe assumption that a business has limited developer resources available for adding new features, and these features (one of which is additional browser support) need to be prioritized. Maybe you work in a company where there are tons of spare dev and test
  • The reason there is such a thing as IE-only functionality is the fact that one powerful company wants to break the open platform and force people onto theirs, in order to fill their own pockets. This is not something I wish to support in the least, so I don't create, use or promote any web-based things that require IE.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:37PM (#17986790) Homepage
    Just curious, what kind of IE-only content are you talking about here? Granted I've never developed a commerical web app but I haven't come across any major obstacles to implementing cross-browser functionality in anything I've written in recent years. OK so I usually end up with a couple of dozen IE-specific fixes that have to be made and maybe some browsers get less functionality than others but I've not come across anything which worked on one browser that couldn't fail gracefully on another.

    Or am I just being ignorant in thinking this isn't really a major problem anymore?
    • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:00PM (#17987154) Journal

      Or am I just being ignorant in thinking this isn't really a major problem anymore?
      It shouldn't be. These days, coding websites for IE only reflects the web developer's utter lack of current knowledge. It's like saying "Help me! I seem to have fallen in 1997 and can't get up!" It takes virtually no extra work to write stuff cross browser (or at least close enough), and if you think it does take too much work then your skills aren't what they should be. Just use web standards. Couple that with the good ole KISS* principle, and presto. Anyone who doesn't get that should never ever again write another web interface, IMO.

      *you know: Rock and Roll all night, Party everyday! (yes, I couldn't resist)
      • Wouldn't you know, I just lost my mod points. :-(
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *

        It takes virtually no extra work to write stuff cross browser (or at least close enough), and if you think it does take too much work then your skills aren't what they should be. Just use web standards.

        Correction: It takes virtually no extra work to write stuff for all browsers except when you need to support IE for non-trivial work. Getting things working in IE is a pain due to its lack of standards support, and shouldn't be necessary. Thankfully, it's possible to maintain a small list of Javascript and CS

        • thank you for the refinement. damn straight!
        • Getting things working in IE is a pain due to its lack of standards support

          There are lots of folks who have already incurred this pain for you and have written books and/or javascript libraries that you can use to mitigate the pain.

    • IE 7 is better, but the support for Cascading Style Sheets is still shite.

       
    • I'm not sure if this is an IE-specific, but it does limit who can use their page.
      OK full details:
      1. Mom finds sight that sells stuff to only retailers (not a problem as she runs a store and this would be good for the store).
      2. Fills out stuff, gets a username and password.
      3. Go to sign in, prices don't work. She complains and they ask what version of IE she is running? (She's running Firebird 0.7 aka Firefox 0.7 IIRC)(It's a Win95 machine that my parents don't feel like moving off of quite yet. It is hidden
    • by awful (227543)
      Seems like it is if you live in South Korea [slashdot.org]...
  • Enter webcomics... (Score:5, Informative)

    by strredwolf (532) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:38PM (#17986804) Homepage Journal
    Take it from a site that hosts 6000+ webcomics, so you get a good sense of what's being used out there.

    On average from CG, from the top of my head (not accurate!!!):

    * Firefox/IE are major contenders -- ether one or the other flops back and forth the lead.
    * Safari rounds out the third
    * Konqueror, Opera, Netscape 4, and web spiders scrape out the distant rest.

    What I would do is follow Google Mail's lead: Make a javascript version and a non-js version, and if there's a browser not on the tested whilelist, go non-js.
  • They are certainly not perfect, but it should give you some idea.

    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid= 0 [hitslink.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      How are you judging the accuracy of these statistics? I don't see any estimated error or confidence level. They don't describe their methodology. Are you doing what most people do and considering statistics "accurate" just because they reinforce your existing beliefs?

  • as it is the default search engine for pretty much every browser except internet explorer. A lot of ie users do change their search engine settings to google, but many will stick with live.com or msn.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Whatever happens to standards?
    http://validator.w3.org/ [w3.org]

    You can make anything you like available on a web server. If someone complains, and it follows the standards, then it's their fault. If it doesn't, then it's yours.
    • Responding to the majority of your customers' complaints about your site not working with "aha! but your browser doesn't follow web standards" is a fast way to get rid of all your complaints. And all your customers. The "just use web standards and screw everyone else" viewpoint is not a practical one. Especially if we're talking about a business. Bottom line, most people use IE and most people don't give a damn about web standards, they just want things to work. You don't tell ~80% of your customers it's "t
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:54PM (#17987084) Journal
    If you follow the standards your site will look good on most browsers, including IE.

    On the other hand, if you jump on all the IE specific functionality you have a few issues. Will it work on old versions of ie? Will it work if people have their active X controls set to "high security"? Will IE break your sites functionality in a security upgrade?

    Either way, you're writing off Mac's and all cellphones and pdas, you're writing off a lot of /.ers, and pretty much everyone who has a non-ie browser.

    Now, I think Walmart gives as much of a shit about me as I do about them (if I were bleeding to death I'd drive 10 more miles to get some bandages rather than go to Walmart), so no loss for either one of us. But your company isn't Walmart, whose main customer base isn't remotely online.

    If it were me, I'd stick with standards.
    • IE Upgrades (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kelson (129150) *

      On the other hand, if you jump on all the IE specific functionality you have a few issues. Will it work on old versions of ie? Will it work if people have their active X controls set to "high security"? Will IE break your sites functionality in a security upgrade?

      This is a good point. In case the submitter isn't aware, IE7 removed or disabled a lot of IE-specific functionality relied on by web apps. Functionality based on the standard specs, however, not only worked across IE6, Firefox, and others, but

    • Standards compliance is cheap

      Says it all. I am so sick of the misconception "We are gonna do it on the cheap and make it IE only".

      On the other hand, if you jump on all the IE specific functionality you have a few issues. Will it work on old versions of ie? Will it work if people have their active X controls set to "high security"? Will IE break your sites functionality in a security upgrade?

      Yes I've seen it all. I have a team member whose coding skills are stuck in 1998 and he writes stuff (on the intra

  • Perhaps 'only' 10-20% of your visitors will use non-IE browsers. However, perhaps only 5% of visitors to your website will purchase your product.

    Do you want to gamble on which 5% that is?

    - RG>
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I manage all web services for my employer. Not surprisingly, there are many ways to count "browsers" - by hits, by IP, by "user sessions", by "known users", or something else.

    I only count "browsers per known user per day". So users that come in more than once per day are only counted once; anonymous users (and robots/crawlers without a credit card in hand) are excluded.

    This, not surprisingly, results in a number that's quite different than traditionally published "browser" numbers. The net result is that
    • The parent post said: "I only count "browsers per known user per day". So users that come in more than once per day are only counted once; anonymous users (and robots/crawlers without a credit card in hand) are excluded."

      And *how* do you count users/day accurately? With proxy servers, you *can't* always know that kind of information from server logs, though many logfile analyzer s/w packages will try to make you think you can...

      See the Analog logfile analyser docs: What the results mean [analog.cx], and particula

      • Judging by the GP's remark about "robots/crawlers without a credit card," I'm guessing it means they're counting "known users" who have logged into the site. In that case, you can track them pretty accurately, as long as you're willing to ignore traffic from people who have an account, but aren't logged in.
  • Do you have any competitors, or are there any companies offering reasonably similar services? Visit their support or forums or Google for complaints that they don't support particular browsers. Also install the various browsers and visit their site(s). Just like features, the more they support the more you probably should. Likewise, if they have big holes in browser support it means something... it could be that you could fill a void for potential clients...
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:13PM (#17987352) Homepage Journal

    If you're even willing to entertain the idea, then why not take it to the next level? Instead of having an interactive ActiveX-heavy website, just have a website that contains one file, a MS Windows-only executable, for your "audience" to download and execute as administrator. Then you won't have to worry about "giving up functionality" at all.

    (BTW, you're never going to find the statistics that you want. Having MSIE be in the user-agent header, is practically part of the defacto http standard now. Why? Exactly because of the kind of abuse that you're contemplating. 10 years after the last copy of MSIE has been erased, it will still have 90% marketshare, at least according to the server logs.)

  • A Suggestion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by webheaded (997188)
    If you've already got some sort of website going, start logging statistics for it. Get a counter of some kind (like the kind at http://extremetracking.com/ [extremetracking.com] and you can look at who goes to your site. As you start to build the real meat and potatoes you will know what your primary audience. I look at these stats all the time for my websites to make sure that my site look good to the majority of my audience.
  • I'm not privy to what exactly "IE-only functionality" is in your case, but perhaps you should rethink your application design if you can't find a way to create a cross-platform solution. With AJAX, Java, and various other technologies with excellent cross-platform support, the only justifications for creating an IE-only site seem to be either DRM systems or laziness. Then again, we could also be dealing with the difference between a developer and an engineer. If you're hitting a point where IE-only funct
  • Bowser is bottom-tier, so he doesn't really get used much. Luke (grabfestbowser) is pretty hardcore with him, as are a couple of other folks like Magnum, but for the most part he doesn't see much play.
  • 81% (Score:5, Informative)

    by mshmgi (710435) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:42PM (#17987738) Homepage

    I manage dozens of websites reaching multiple demographics (i.e., business, home users, education, medical, engineering, agri-business, sporting goods). Our sites see roughly 1,000,000 unique visitors each week.

    Removing bots out of the stats, on average, I see:

    • Windows IE: 81%
    • Windows FF: 11%
    • Windows NS: 0.1%
    • Windows OPERA: 0.1%
    • Linux (all browsers): 1%
    • Mac OS X (all broswers): 6%

    If your site is geared towards highly technical people, expect to see double the FireFox & Linux traffic. If the site is geared towards the average home user, you might only be pissing off 10-12% of your potential customer base by having IE only components. I can't imagine many businesses surviving very long by pisssing off 1 out of every 9 customers ... oh, wait, Microsoft ... forget I said that.

  • by Selanit (192811) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:42PM (#17987740)
    For a snapshot of the web population at large, check this site:

    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/ [hitslink.com]

    Their stats are updated regularly, they've got a reasonable level of detail, and lots of pretty graphs.

    However, as others have pointed out, you need to be worrying about your particular audience more than anything else. A site like the one I've just given isn't all that useful unless you've got a really huge web site. So here's a three step plan for YOUR web site:

    1) At first, design it to work smoothly with as many browsers as you possibly can.

    2) Build up a profile on the types of users who visit your site. There are lots of programs that can help you do this. Google Analytics [google.com] does a decent job, and it's free of charge. Another one is Mint [haveamint.com], which some people swear by [mikeindustries.com] (it costs $30 USD). There are lots of others out there, of varying quality and abilities. Take your pick.

    3) Once you've got a profile built up, tune your web site to suit the abilities of the browsers that most of YOUR particular users favor. You might discover that only 0.002% of your visitors are using Safari, meaning perfect compatibility with Safari is not a major concern for you. Or you might discover that the Opera users of the world swarm your web site like ants swarm spilled sugar, in which case Opera becomes a priority for you.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Browser demographics are different from site to site. You should make your own statistics. I bet you that /.'s demographics will vary a lot from, say, amazon.com
  • One Data Point (Score:5, Informative)

    by localman (111171) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:55PM (#17987940) Homepage
    Here's the percentages for the site I work on. I can't reveal specific numbers, but we get many millions of unique visitors per day. As many other posters have mentioned, the answer of what to support greatly depends on who your audience is and what you're trying to achieve. Our audience is over 99% from the US, and represents a more average (read: less tech savvy) cross section of internet users, specifically, those that would buy shoes and apparel online. Your potential customer profile is likely much different, but here's the top 10 browsers/platform combonations we saw last week:

    44.93% - Internet Explorer 6.0 Windows XP
    26.48% - Internet Explorer 7.0 Windows XP
    5.26% - Firefox 2.0 Windows XP
    4.90% - Firefox 1.5 Windows XP
    3.98% - Internet Explorer 6.0 Windows 2000
    2.29% - Safari 419 Macintosh PPC
    1.82% - Safari 419 Macintosh Intel
    1.39% - Internet Explorer 6.0 Windows 98
    0.92% - Safari 312 Macintosh PPC
    0.52% - Firefox 1.0 Windows XP

    We do our best to support normal operation on all of these platforms (and several others) because at our volume alienating even a fraction of a percent costs real money. And also in our case it's not hard to make things work cross browser because we use simple HTML and minimal javascript.

    You ask what you lose by adding some IE only features. The equally important question is what you gain. Are the IE only features you're considering going to increase the value of your application enough to make up for what is lost in potential users? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. In general I think people overestimate how much fancy features are going to improve usefulness, so be honest with yourself there. Good luck figuring out where to draw the line.

    Cheers.
    • No Mac FFox, or Mac IE? Hm.
      • by localman (111171)
        That was just the top 10. The whole list is very long :)

        FYI, Mac Firefox 1.5 & 2.0 litter the teens under both PPC and Intel. All the prominent Mac Firefox entries combined pull about 1.8%. Mac IE really is dead, coming in at #44 with 0.05%.

        The version splits make some things look smaller than they should. The analytics I'm using doesn't allow very fine grained control over improving that. What I'd like would be a way to group by work-alikes. But then that concept may not really hold anyways.
  • Mod me off-topic if you must, but I think asking about browser share is definitely the wrong place to start. Start by asking why you want a web-based application, and you'll probably confront the fact that "universal client" was at least an important consideration at some point in the evolution (maybe back in the naive days before MS entered the browser market). For every feature you consider, before asking about browser share, think about whether the communication or functionality objective (user can get
  • we got to thinking, exactly how many users would we be alienating by using some IE-only functionality on our website?

    I know I might be playing Devil's Advocate here, but if users alienated >0, wouldn't common sense dictate that the move in question is a pretty bad one?

  • As others have said, it's really up to those who visit your site.

    If I was deploying a new web application I would start by writing it to standards and making it work with IE and FF out of the box. Then I'd keep track of what browsers hit my main page.

    Then I'd make a simple business decision:

    if (potentialLostRevenue > costToImplement)
    implement_browser(someBrowser)

    Lets say it will take $1500 worth of manpower to implement Opera. If I'm potentially turning away $5K in b
  • Also, maintenance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday February 12, 2007 @06:15PM (#17989056) Homepage

    Another thing to think about is future maintenance. Take a look at what IE7 did to IE-only Web sites. Lots of IE-specific things that worked find in IE6 suddenly didn't work or worked badly in IE7 because of changes in the browser. If you'd written an IE-specific Web site that actually used IE-specific features (as opposed to "we only tested it in IE" without using anything beyond bog-standard HTML/CSS/JS), you had headaches. Sites designed to work well in Mozilla, Opera and Safari, by contrast, made the IE6-to-IE7 transition with few if any problems.

    So you not only have to ask whether it's worth it to accomodate non-IE browsers, you also have to ask if it's worth it to target only IE and deal with the havoc when Microsoft moves your target again (and they will move it, the only question is when and how far).

  • Do your developers use Firefox and heavily utilize features/plugins such as Live HTTP Headers, Firebug, DOM Inspector, and the Javascript Console? Are you going to piss them off by making them work in IE? The cost of having to replace developers and the cost of decreased productivity alone may sway your decision.
  • First,you only need one disenfranchised user to sue you. For example, if you are operating a Web site in the US (or in many cases the EU or Canada) anti-discrimination laws mean you'd better make your site accessible. And that means accessible to someone using a text-based browser such as Lynx, as well as a text reader. See the American Disabilities Act and the "508" laws.

    Second, yes, you can make a Web site more cheaply that's aimed at, say, IE 6. Or IE 7. or maybe you could choose Mosaic 1.5, or Nets
  • I kept hearing about the "stick to the standards and it will work everywhere!" argument in the replies. But in my experience, this advice only works when you're making simple websites. Try a little bit of good old DHTML or even AJAX and your "sticking to standards" web page breaks down in no time. I would go as far as to claim even things you taken for granted in a sane programming environment would often break down in IE without you noticing what went wrong, I won't prove this claim here, but an example is
    • There's a difference between saying, "IE supports every aspect of every standard perfectly" (nothing does, although some programs come a lot closer than others, of course) and saying, "avoid single-browser extensions when possible and use only the portable subset of what is standard". I agree it's not easy though.

      Liam
  • I work for a major internet company that provides portals and premium services to our customers. Their users are 'average joe' types and with about 200,00 unique users on one domain alone I figure that these stats probably hold true for most 'general use' sites.

    The breakdown was about 85% IE, 10% FF, and 5% 'Other', which included Safari, Opera (1%), AOL Browser, even some Web TV clients. Over the last few months, IE6 has been shrinking with IE7 gaining and that continues to be the case. Don't expect IE6 to
  • by pen (7191) *
    Really, how much of a troll is this article. You are asking Slashdot about your existing web site's traffic statistics?

    Where can one get a current, accurate, and un-biased measurement of browser usage?
    In your access_log!

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