graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

State of the Browser Market

While there is a current trend among web designers of ignoring statistics and just designing for your target audience, my general thinking is that a “target audience” for browser compatibility is just wishful thinking.

With the new year well on its way, it’s time to take stock on some browser statistics. While there is a current trend among web designers of ignoring statistics and just designing for your target audience, my general thinking is that a “target audience” for browser compatibility is just wishful thinking.

For instance, most bank sites, for some stupid reason, design for Internet Explorer; most do not take into account me, a customer and avid Opera user, and shut me out before I can even enter a password. They just assume I use IE. Closer to home, a lot of “professional” webdev sites ignore older browsers, but I recently received an e-mail from someone having trouble rendering graphicPUSH, in all its validating glory, in a version of IE for the Mac. This was unexpected; I (wrongly) assumed that people reading my site would use newer or “alternative” (read more compliant) browsers. I eliminated the bug and have been much more careful in my testing.

And while there is no definitive statistic, there are enough to get a good picture, and keeping tabs on general browser market share can do nothing but educate a designer. That being said, here are my general observations pulled from several different sources:

  1. People who use Internet Explorer have widely converted to version 6. The Counter lists it at 74%; observing Google’s Zeitgeist, there is a direct correlation between the plummeting share of 5.x and the rising share of 6.x. My guess is that with Service Pack 1 and several security updates, IT departments are confident enough to start shifting their enterprises over. And since we can count on not getting version 7 for a little while, this number will continue to rise at a healthy rate.
  2. While slow, the adoption of alternative browsers continues to rise. This is most evident in the Mozilla family (Mozilla, Firebird, Camino, K-Meleon), which have a gently rising market share. Opera has started to nibble on the pie, but in just about every case, it languishes at 1% or lower.
  3. All evidence points to Netscape 4.x disappearing almost completely. The Counter shows it dropping off with only 17% of January 2003’s numbers. Google’s pretty little line shows the browser almost completely disappearing, W3C puts it at 1% and Browser News sources average out to 1.2% as of today. This is nothing but good news for designers.