For many smaller businesses thinking about a new website this year or indeed for any business that is looking at a revamped website for the Web 2.0 arena, there are some fundamental changes that are taking place online that will affect what they will need from their developers.
One of the biggest trends seen over the last year is the emergence of Firefox as a main browser, with Internet Explorer becoming less and less popular to the mainstream. In fact, the latest figures show that Firefox users almost double that of people using Internet explorer and are increasing month on month, while Internet Explorer’s popularity wanes.
So what does this mean to you?
Well if you are getting a website built or you are in the process of getting web development work done on your existing website, you could save yourself a lot of money in browser compatibility testing for a start. For example, Internet Explorer 6 is only used by 4.4% of Internet users worldwide while IE8 is still used by 16.5% of users so is probably worth the hassle of extra testing for now.
Charges for testing websites in browsers vary greatly and can be the difference of literally thousands of pounds to some high end websites, and hundreds of pounds for small business websites, so it’s worth looking at this more closely.
Firefox compatibility is probably the most important with Google Chrome and IE8 in joint second place, so if you are on a very tight budget and don’t know what you should and shouldn’t spend your development budget on, consider reducing the amount of compatibility testing for your site and leave IE6 behind.
A year ago more developers were offering browser compatibility testing that included IE6, IE7 and IE8, but now you can always expect to pay more for IE6 testing because it is time consuming when trying to make it work with a Web 2.0 site. Essentially it is just too old and outdated to work with things like Facebook plug-ins for example so it is problematic.
Effectively, some browsers could see an end to their life by the end of this year and IE6 won’t hold out much longer if previous statistics are anything to go by, so save money on your IE6 testing and use the surplus savings on marketing your site when it’s finished.
If you’re confused by all the terminology here, this helpful information below should help you understand the relevance of these changes to your website as it lists the browser launch year and some key user facts. It not only clarifies how old the browsers are, but you should be able to consider the web technology available when they were released compared to now, which will give you an idea as to how difficult or easy it is for a developer to get your website working in. Note also that Firefox is updated regularly to ensure compatibility with the most recent technology so although it seems old, the level of technology has been developed in line with Web 2.0.
Browser Started Percentage of users worldwide (Dec 2010)
Internet Explorer 6 2003 4.4%
Internet Explorer 7 2006 6.1% (Worth testing for now)
Internet Explorer 8 2009 16.5% (Definitely worth testing)
Firefox 2004 43.5% ( A favourite to most developers)
Google Chrome 2008 23.4% (Worth testing)
Safari Numerous 3.8% (Worth testing)
Note with the Safari browser, although the percentage of users is lower around the world, compatibility testing is very easy, as a lot of the Web 2.0 technology integration has been added regularly and as many people are turning to Apple as a brand, it should not be ignored.