Web Browser Statistics for Cross-Browser Compatibility

WASHINGTON, DC – Most of our clients insist that their websites be compatible with ALL major web browsers such as Internet Explorer IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc.  In addition, they expect it to look the great on mobile devices such as the Android and iPhone.

The problem is that many of these web browsers fail to comply with web standards.  If everybody complied with the same web standards then it would be very easy to make a website look great, and the same, across all major browsers.

Microsoft Internet Explorer IE6 Compatibility

Probably the most notorious violator of commonly accepted web standards is Microsoft and their Internet Explorer IE6.  At the time, Microsoft was making a push to create their own standard, to force the world to move in their direction, and to push the envelope with regard to functionality.

The problem is that the rest of the world didn’t go for it.  But, since thousands of United States government offices and universities are slow to migrate to newer versions and open source versions of web browsers, there are still thousands of people out there that still rely on IE6 to view web pages.

The real problem is this…

After we have invested many hours designing and developing a website.  We have to take extra steps to create extra code to make our websites compatible with proprietary web browsers such as IE6.  Often, developers call these extra snippets of code, hacks.  Because, we have to create an awkward band-aid of code to make it work.  It’s like using duct tape on your plumbing.  Have you ever been on the road and seen a car’s bumper being held in place by duct tape?  That is kinda like the code we have to create to make a website look good on IE6.

Browser Wars: Who is winning the Battle?

In the battle of the Browser Wars, the statistics vary depending on where you are in the world, what is the speed of the connection, what websites counties allow you to visit, etc.

The way we collect statistics on browser usage is by studying web analytics or traffic analysis patterns on the usage of various websites.  For example, one of our clients is The World Bank.  We study one of their websites which enjoys about 200,000 unique visitors per month.  That is a pretty good sample size.  Based on this particular World Bank website, we can report the following statistics for web browser usage:

Top 10 Web Browsers

Rank Web Browser % of Visits
1 Internet Explorer
49%
2 Firefox
25%
4 Chrome
15%
5 Safar
8%
6 Opera
2%

Internet Explorer Breakdown

Top 5 Internet Explorer versions

Rank Web Browser % of Visits
1 IE 8
32%
2 IE 7
13%
4 IE 6
5%
5 IE 9
0.5%
6 IE 5
0%

Battle of the Browsers

The World Bank statistics could be misleading because their audience is primarily government and academia.  Since IE6 has significantly more penetration within government and academia, it follows that the IE6 numbers will be inflated.  To balance the study, we have included stats from one of our own websites, SEO Quotient, which enjoys about 75,000 unique visits per month and continues to grow at about 181% per month.

100+ Browsers

It is interesting to note that of the 75,000+ unique visitors to SEO Quotient, a website that provides SEO analysis tools, real-time web analytics, and insight for webmasters, is that the web analytics detected 169 different web browsers.  Also interesting is that people are using their Plasma and LCD TVs and Playstation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii to access websites.  Pretty soon, unless all browsers respect commonly accepted web standards, like HTML5, it will be impossible to be 100% compatible across ALL web browsers.

Rank Web Browser % of Visits
1 Internet Explorer 58%
2 Firefox 20%
4 Chrome 11%
5 Safari 5%
6 Opera 2%

Internet Explorer Slapdown

Rank Web Browser % of Visits
1 IE 8.0 38%
2 IE 6.0 11%
4 IE 7.0 10%
5 IE 9.0 0.5%
6 IE 5.5 0%

It is very interesting to note that this commercial site had even higher penetration of IE6 users. I never would have expected that. So, for now, it looks like web designers need to keep doing hacks for IE6 until it goes away, like IE 5 did.  I have noted that IE 9 is quite buggy.  In fact, after installing IE9, I had to get rid of it and reinstall IE8.