Recently, my web development team came to me asking if we could stop validating and testing websites in IE (Internet Explorer). The question was asked as a result of the challenges of making websites validate in different versions of IE and the low number of people who use the browser, from a developer’s perspective.
I thought about the early days of the web when websites like Netscape and AOL were popular and IE dominated the browser market. Since then, many new browsers have come onto the scene and the market share has shifted in numerous ways. So, I thought it would be worth investigating this further and evaluating the feasibility of this idea.
I first researched the changes in the browser market share since the very early days of the web...
Depending on your source for browser statistics and how the data is collected, you will likely see major differences in market share. Different sites have different audiences using different computers and devices.
Stats collected from W3Schools were from people with an interest in web technologies tend to be web developers or those who are more technically savvy. This group shows a very different browser preference then the global average. The introduction of Firefox in 2005, as the "cool" new browser to savvy web users, quickly picked up popularity. By early 2009, it had become more popular than IE. Today among the tech savvy group, Google Chrome is the most commonly used browser, with about 56% market share. Currently, IE sits at about 10%.
However, according to W3Counter's global usages trends, IE lost its dominance to Chrome in January 2013 - a lot later than the tech savvy crowd showed with Firefox.
So far in 2014, Chrome has the most global market share, followed by IE and Firefox at around 18% each. Next is Safari, a few percentage points below.
I then thought about our Canadian client’s usage patterns and how they differ from the stats collected by others...
We collected all the website statistics in the last 12 months from our Canadian clients and found that about 27% of visitors to our clients’ websites used IE - higher than the global average. We have done a lot of website design and development work for B2B companies so we decided to further dissect this number. We found that about 34% of B2B website visitors used IE versus B2C at about 27.5%. This distinction showed that B2B sites are more likely to use IE versus the B2C market.
So is IE still an important browser to the masses? Based on the numbers, yes! IE remains a browser that is still used by many. You should really look to your specific visitor base and see how different they may be to the statistical averages. Don’t forget to test on different versions of IE. You may be surprised how many still use older versions.