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My web stats: Browser and Operating System usage

Using my web stats to see what browser and operating system by audience use.

Web statistics packages provide a convenient way of analysing web traffic and understanding the audience for a particular website. For sites with a commercial focus, this is especially important. For those of us with personal websites, the stats are more of a curiosity than anything else. But regardless which category a website falls into, web stats are very important for the web designer in assisting him or her to  make decisions about the technology that will be used on a website.

Last August, I made the decision to remove support for Internet Explorer 6. Coding for IE6 was a nuisance, and its lack of support for basic standards and technologies (as would be expected from a decade-old browser) diminished the experience that users of my website were enjoying. Before I made that decision, I had to have a look at the stats to see how many people were still visiting my site on IE6. At the time, 7.6% of my audience were IE6 users, so it was a tough decision to make but was worth it because now that audience is just 4.9% and falling. In part, the web stats guided the decision.

There has been much talk lately that Mozilla Firefox may be starting to decline in favour of Google’s Chrome. Various published articles have reported this, although it can vary between sites. For instance, ars technica reported in March 2010 that they have more visitors using Firefox than Internet Explorer which is most unusual.

According to NetMarketshare, the current percentage market share of each browser is as follows:

With the release of Firefox 4.0 and Internet Explorer 9.0, I thought it would be worth looking at my own website’s statistics to see how representative my audience is:

Pie chart
Browser usage statistics for this website

In my case, the usage statistics differ from the official market share percentages. I have a higher Internet Explorer audience (59.1%) at the expense of Google Chrome (8.0%) and Opera (1.3%). My Firefox (22.3%) and Safari (7.1%) usage figures are very similar to the published values.

In terms of key versions, my audience used the following browsers in May 2011:

Whilst I was looking at web stats, I thought I’d also like to take a look at operating system usage. Given that Apple Safari is the browser of choice for Mac users and that in most places Internet Explorer is bundled with Windows , the data should be of some interest:

Pie chart
Operating system statistics for this website

As can be seen, Microsoft Windows dominates with 88.2% of usage amongst my audience, followed by Mac OS (8.7%), then Linux (1.3%). Other miscellaneous browsers made up the remainder.

According to NetMarketshare, the market share of each operating system is: 88.7% Windows, 5.32% Mac OS, 2.38% iOS, 1.1% Java ME, 0.91% Linux and 0.76% Android. I can see from this that I have a disproportionately high number of Mac OS and Linux users and a negligible number of Android users. Unfortunately my version of AWStats has not been updated to distinguish Windows 7 from Windows Vista, so I can’t accurately extract data about operating system versions.

What all of this shows me is that ensuring that my websites validate and are tested with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome should ensure that the bulk of my audience will experience my websites as intended. However, it does tell me that it might be worth installing a version of Safari too, just to make sure all is well for my Apple Mac audience.



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