Published On: October 23, 2008
Most of us visit sites all over the web with only one experience. For example, I use Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista 99% of the time for my personal browsing. My monitor resolution is 1920 x 1200 pixels. When I design web pages however, I have to be aware that visitors to those sites are coming from several different operating systems, browsers and screen resolutions.
One reliable source, which I use for information on web statistics and trends, is W3 Schools’ pages for browser statistics, operating system statistics and display resolution statistics. They have collected the data from over five years worth of traffic in easy to analyze tables. While they are a site designed for people in the web design industry, their statistics are a decent mirror of most web traffic and not only their log files.
The current trends are most visitors (over 90%) are running some form of Windows operating system and most of those are XP (73%) or Vista (13%). Mac and Linux users combined account for less than 10% of internet traffic. This may also explain why Internet Explorer holds a narrow lead in the battle for browser dominance with around 50% of the traffic versus Firefox’s 43%. Although, by this time next year, Firefox may be the new champ as it has been gaining around 8% a year while IE has been slipping 5-6% each year. The other statistical trend worth noting is the most visitors, nearly 90%, are now using monitors that can display websites at 1024 x 768 or higher resolutions. This will likely keep expanding as larger high-end video cards and monitors keep coming down in price.
Of course more than statistics come into play when designing a website. You also need to take into account your target audience and the complexity of the page contents. If you are running an Apple fan club website you more than likely will have more Mac than Windows visitors or Safari browsers over IE or Firefox. Plain text with scattered images will likely work on any platform versus strict layouts which provide a more aesthetically pleasing look, but need tweaking to look right on all fronts.
So, is your website working for those you intended it for? Or, is it possible it is only working for a small percentage. Just because it looks good to you on your computer doesn’t mean it will for all. Check it out, or better yet have a test group check it out for you, across several platforms and resolutions to make sure all is right. You may be surprised by what your visitors see (or don’t see) when they visit your site.