I was quite surprised to read yesterday that apparently Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser (as of February 2010). By why should this surprise me? I used to be pro Internet Explorer (IE) however recent problems with IE7 and IE8 such as constant crashing, pauses and high memory usage (and much more besides!) forced me to change to alternative browsers such as Firefox and Chrome. Firefox is my new primary browser, and from an SEO point of view it’s very handy to have all the available plugins at my disposal for quick analysis of websites. I think Chrome is great, but for some reason I just don’t use it very much for reasons I can’t explain. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m just supplying Google with all my browsing data (not just the searches I use from their search engine!).
Here are the latest statistics on the browser market share as of February 2010:
As you can see, IE has a 62.06% share (a combination of IE6, IE7 and IE8) with IE8 supposedly being the most common. This is largely due to the fact that IE8 is part of the windows automatic updates and it comes with Windows 7 (which any PC user with Vista was pretty much forced to buy!). Firefox is 2nd with 24.44% which is slightly down from last year, with Chrome increasing to 5.29% from about 1%! Impressive. Safari is in fourth with 4.51% and I’m assuming that this includes the Safari browser on the iphone? If so, I would definitely expect this to increase over the next 12 months with the huge number of iphones being purchased.
Okay, so why was I so surprised that IE had such a dominant share? Well here are the browser statistics from everyone who has visited our website in the last 6 months:
Now as you can see, this tells a slightly different story with Firefox having a majority of the share with 51.65%, IE in second place with 29.42%, chrome in third with 8.93% and Safari in fourth with 7.08%. Basically it paints a similar picture, but with the roles reversed for IE and Firefox. Now I realise that the type of visitor that we get to our website is most likely going to be a little more tech savvy or will have some SEO knowledge or background (so they will most likely be using Firefox for the available plugins) so that will skew the results, however I was still surprised by the 62% to 24% share. Because I was pro IE for so long until finally giving up on it out of pure frustration, I guess I assumed other users were experiencing similar issues.
So what does all this mean? Well from a web design point of view, I find that Chrome, Safari and Firefox tend to render HTML and CSS in very similar ways making them easy to develop for. IE has known issues with it’s dual rendering engines etc and so your designed pages can look a little different sometimes, although if I’m honest I rarely check websites in IE6 now (unless specifically requested by the client). There are differences even between IE7 and IE8, so make sure that you have checked your site in at least the top 3 browsers before making it live. As the popularity of mobile browsers increases alternative styles will need to be created to help them display in an easier to read format.