Small Business Websites and Browser Choice

In the article Small Business Website Designs and Browser Wars, we shared the definition of Browser Wars as referring to two specific events - the first during the late 1990's where Microsoft's browser Internet Explorer became dominant and the second which started in 2003 (and continues...) where emerging, open-source, free browsers compete for dominance and jostle for market share.

The consequence of the later Browser Wars is that there is a wider Browser Choice in the market. Hence any Small Business Website Design must look great and function perfectly in many different browsers.

Small Business Websites and Browser ChoiceUsage Share of Web Browsers

The usage share of Web Browsers is the proportion of all users and all web browsers who use a particular browser. The figures are usually expressed as a percentage. Where it is vital to my role as a Nottingham Web Designer is that it provides the list of which browsers I must ensure render my Small Business Web Designs correctly.

It may come as a surprise, but the percentages representing the usage share are approximate. In our day and age, it would have been natural to assume an accurate measure. The figures are usually estimated from looking at the number of visitors using a particular browser to a group of websites. These figures vary geographically and through time.

Although Net Quality Nottingham Web Design provides accurate statistics and figures for our client's websites, it is impossible to obtain the overall statistics with the same level of accuracy for every website.

Problems with measuring Browser Statistics for Business Web Sites

Obtaining the usage share of Web Browsers from the number of page hits may be deceptive.
The figures may overestimate or even underestimate the true figures:

Overestimation of Business Website traffic

  • Upgrading  a web browser and then revisiting a website may be double counted
  • Some anti-virus software emulate Web Browsers to trick-attack websites in an attempt to try and reveal hidden content or to verify the correct performance of the website. For example, AVG Linkscanner software imitates the behaviour of Internet Explorer and has been shown to provide more visits to websites then human visitors by up to 10 to 1
  • Websites may be designed to effectively block certain Web Browsers to reduce the number of tests, where only the tested Web Browsers are permitted to access the site and its content. This occurs more and more infrequently as Web Browsers converge in standards and capabilities

Underestimation of Internet traffic to Business Websites

  • Most Web Browsers register an additional, unique, page hit when the refresh button is pressed or when the back button is clicked. Some browsers such as Opera store every page and displays this to the user rather than sending a distinct request to the Internet website, thus not generating a page hit and reducing the total figures
  • Some browsers use fast Document Object Model caching which can lead to JavaScript  not being executed to enhance performance - this can distort Browser Statistics, especially those using JavaScript based tracking systems
  • ISPs, especially mobile network operators, may choose to remove the user agent strings resulting in the statistics being reduced for these visits

Even with the difficulties of obtaining accurate Browser Statistics, there is a general consensus and a pragmatic approach to reveal percentages. If the results from the top 5 Internet usage measurement organisation which are StatCounter, Net Applications, W3Counter, Wikimedia and Clicky, are averaged, then the resulting figures can be considered indicative of the situation.

Usage share of desktop browsers for March 2012:
Source Internet
Firefox Chrome Safari Opera Other
StatCounter 34.8% 25.0% 30.9% 6.7% 1.8% 0.8%
Net Applications 53.8% 20.6% 18.6% 5.1% 1.6% 0.4%
W3Counter 30.0% 25.3% 24.3% 6.4% 2.1% 11.9%
Wikimedia 28.0% 21.8% 24.0% 5.7% 3.8% 16.8%
Clicky 39.0% 24.4% 26.7% 8.6% 1.4% 0.1%
Average 37.1% 23.4% 24.9% 6.5% 2.1% 6.0%

Therefore as a minimum, you should check that your Web Designer has tested your Business Website Design in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera, and in the various versions of each Web Browser. If he has not, ask him why not. All our Small Business Website Designs are carefully hand coded and crafted to look great in the browsers we use to develop them, and also in all the main browsers available in the market.

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