As web designers, we all know how important it is that you are aware of your target audience, and what sort of browser they might be using to view your sites.
I was idly fiddling with the Sitemeter Stats for my blogs today, and was intrigued by the variation in browser share between them – largely reflecting their readerships, and how “geeky”/computer literate the visitors may be. They’re all hosted on Blogger and have referrals from a variety of sources.
First up, this blog shows the largest number of different browers – even getting a few percent of views with Konqueror and Opera 9. I see 2% of folks are still straggling along with Netscape 5 too! The majority are on Firefox 2 – just edging IE7 by 6%. I guess this wide spread of browsers reflects the “geekery” of the content and people using niche browsers are likely to read webhead stuff!
The second chart is my Rugby Mad blog – the first one I started back in Feb 2006. Although the subject is just limited to rugby, I’m guessing that the readers represent a more “average” web user – the blog was linked from the BBC’s Six Nations blog last year, and I got massive numbers of hits from that. They are certainly a less geeky crowd than above. This is reflected by the stats – nearly half of them are using IE7 – with IE6 the next largest chunk at 28% <sigh />. Firefox has plummeted 20% compared to the geeky blog. And it looks like around 8% read from a Mac (although I suppose some could be using Safari on a PC now). But no Netscape in sight!
My Photographic blog is most similar to the web design one – although there aren’t any die-hard Konqueror or Opera fans amongst the readership! The Netscape stragglers are back in about the same numbers 🙂
Last of all is my newest blog, My Year In Pictures. It’s been running less than a month, whereas the rest have been going for a year or more. I guess potential users of older browsers may have upgraded before this one went live (I think the stats are derived from the last 12 months if the blog has been going that long). The most surprising is Firefox 2 with a whopping 42% share, a good 8% ahead of IE7. There’s still around 18% of users clinging to IE6. Safari and Netscape figure in the few percent.
So, what does all this tell me? It just shows that with the proliferation of new browsers, while Firefox is doing well in the geeksphere, IE7 is gaining ground – but IE6 is still alive and kicking (us) amongst the “average” web user. And yes, there are still some poor folks using Netscape – people, if it’s within your power, upgrade to a nice shiny new browser!
When I build sites for clients, I’ll always design it for Firefox. Then test/fix for IE7 (some niggles but not major problems) and pesky IE6 (usually requires more tweaks). I’ll also have a look at them in Safari (PC) and Opera 9.02 – there may be slight presentational differences, but no show-stoppers.
For a laugh, I’ll also take a peek in IE5.5 (and 5.02 if I’m feeling masochistic), but I’m not going to waste any time fixing bugs for them. Let’s face it – none of the above readers have registered as using them – and I’m guessing on average, these stats are pretty applicable for most web users these days, no matter what content they are browsing – so why should I flog myself unneccessarily?