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Are you testing your website in the right browsers?

Today I was casually checking the stats for this website on google analytics when I thought it would be useful to look at the comparative figures for browsers people have used to visit the site recently and a year ago.

Now, if you’re a web developer and you’re like most of us, you’re probably testing in the following browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 7 and upwards (surely you’ve dropped support for IE6 by now?)
  • Opera (possibly)

If you’re developing mobile or, even better, responsive sites, the chances are you’re testing for mobile Safari on iOS and the Android browser. You may also be testing for Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 and/or Opera Mobile.

But are we all targeting the wrong browsers?

An anaysis of this site for the last month shows the following statistics:

  • 27% using Google Chrome
  • 21% using Firefox
  • 16% using desktop Safari
  • 14% using IE (with only 1% on IE6 and 4% on IE7)
  • 11% using Safari on iPhone
  • 5% using Safari on iPad
  • 1.5% using Android
  • 1.5% using Opera and 1% using Opera Mini.

It’s worth making the comparison with the same site a year ago, around the time it became responsive:

  • 33% Internet Explorer (5% on IE6 and 8% on IE7)
  • 18% Safari desktop
  • 14% Chrome
  • 13% Firefox
  • 9% Safari on iPhone
  • 1.5% Safari on iPad
  • 1% Opera

In both cases the figures don’t quite add up to 100% because of unidentified or more obscure browsers.

Have you noticed the main trends?

  1. The percentage of visitors on Chrome has doubled.
  2. IE6 is very nearly irrelevant now and IE7 has less visitors than almost all other browsers including Safari on iPad.
  3. The proportion of mobile visitors has almost doubled and there are now as many visitors on Opera Mini as on IE6.
  4. Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 visitors are nonexistent and Android visitors are surprisingly few and far between.

I think there’s a lot here that’s relevant to the way we develop and test websites, and the fact that many of us are probably testing for the wrong browsers. I imagine more developers test in IE7 and even IE6 than test in Opera mobile and certainly Opera Mini, for example.

Over the next year, it’s lalmost certain that the proportion of people visiting websites from their mobiles will increase even more, especially for sites like this one that are responsive.

So, the questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are you using your analytics figures to determine which browsers you target? Are you monitoring trends in browser use to futureproof your site?
  • Are you spending as much time tweaking your site for iPad (including size of buttons, touch compatibility) as you are spending on IE7 layout hacks?
  • Have you considered how your website renders in Opera Mini?
  • Are you building mobile or responsive websites? Could your website attract more mobile visitors if it was better signed for them?

So – are you testing for the browsers people actually use to visit your sites? It’s worth looking at your comparative analytics figures from time to time to check. I certainly plan to do this again next year to see how things have moved on. My prediction is that there will be more visitors on mobiles and that Chrome will be close to eclipsing IE on Windows (hurray for that!).