Tag: browser support

2016 browser usage round-up – some encouraging signs

Roughly once a year, we blog about browser usage, based on visitors to our applications.

This year, I’ve taken logs since April 2015, run them through some one-off analysis code and plotted results using matplotlib. These stats cover all our servers worldwide. I’ve broken them down by continent and I’ve also split out results for pages that only admin users use. Since our customers are primarily government organisations, the numbers for admin pages mostly correspond to what government employees are using.

For those who only have time to look at one chart

This is the one chart that makes me most happy.

Legacy vs modern browsers for all apps

The red represents people using bad web browsers that make me unhappy: IE7 and IE8. The yellow portion of this chart represents people using somewhat nicer web browsers  – IE9 and IE10. The green portion of this chart represents people using high-quality, modern web browsers that are pleasant to develop software for – such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Edge and IE11.

This chart makes me happy because it shows that about 80% of people visiting our sites are using high-quality, modern web browsers, and that this number portion is going up. ♥

(NB: I’ve omitted February 2016 from this (and all the other monthly charts) because we’re only partway into February, so there isn’t enough data yet to draw valid conclusions for February.)

Worldwide browser usage

The first thing I’m interested in knowing is how often our sites were visited from desktop devices vs mobile devices. This chart gives the split for January and February 2016:

Desktop vs Mobile in 2016 for all apps

We’re still mostly seeing hits from desktop browsers – which is understandable, since a) responding to a consultation is something that can take a while and b) a good number of participants will be at in a workplace/at a desk when they respond. It’s exciting to see people are using our sites from mobile devices too, though.

The next thing I’m interested in knowing is: which browsers are our visitors on desktops using?

I’m glad to see usage of both Internet Explorer 7 and 8 shrinking over the course of the last nine months. Given that Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge (the two latest browsers from Microsoft) are growing by about the same amount as IE7 and IE8 are shrinking, it looks like people are upgrading all the way to the newest available browsers, which is great news.

On the bottom of the chart, you can see that Google Chrome is responsible for a large quantity of hits all by itself, so it looks like Google’s advertising for its browsers has been paying off.

The next thing I’d like to know is what browsers the mobile visitors are using:

This isn’t quite as pressing as the desktop browsers breakdown, because there isn’t such a disparity in technical quality between the different widely-used mobile web browsers. Apple’s Safari, Google Chrome, mobile Internet Explorer 11 and Android’s built-in browser are all technologically excellent and currently very easy to write good software for.

It’s interesting to see that we receive more hits from Apple’s Safari on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and iPods) than from Android devices running Google Chrome or the Android Browser, despite the fact that Android devices are sold very widely at low price points. There isn’t any clear trend of market share change between the two.

What browsers are people in government using?

This chart shows what desktop browsers are being used in the admin sides of our products. (I’m only showing desktop browsers here because the people who use our apps as admins very nearly never use mobile browsers to do so.)

You can see that the variance in this chart is much higher than all the previous charts. The number of requests sampled for measuring admin usage is a small portion of the apps’ total usage, so there are accordingly fewer total hits.

While the chart is fairly chaotic at all points, I’m quite happy to see that there’s clear evidence here that many admin users have been upgraded away from IE7, 8 and 9 and on to IE11. I’m also very glad to see that the portion of admin users using IE10 has shrunk rather than grown in the last couple of months, since this indicates that peoples’ computers are being updated all the way to the very latest version of Internet Explorer available, rather than just bumped up to the next one.

Seeing Chrome and Firefox usage go up is also pleasant. It’s hard to claim a clear trend here because there is a lot of noise in this data, but it does look like a growing portion of admin users have had their IT department either allow them to use or provide them with one of these two Evergreen Browsers.

What browsers are people using in the United Kingdom?

In the United Kingdom, we see a slightly higher proportion of mobile device visits than elsewhere:

This chart shows the desktop browser breakdown in the United Kingdom:

Again, I’m glad to see IE7 and IE8 shrinking and that people are upgrading from them to Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge. This is pretty much identical to our worldwide chart.

Here’s the chart for mobile browser share in the UK:

This, too, is almost identical to the worldwide chart.

What browsers are people using in Australia?

We see less mobile uptake in Australia than in the UK, but more than in New Zealand.

Here’s a breakdown of the desktop browsers in Australia:

We were receiving a relatively large amount of traffic from a single location where people were still using Internet Explorer 6, which has slowly dwindled. There’s a distinct trend in the last couple of months for IE7 through IE10 to go away in favour of IE11, which is a good sign. I’m not quite sure why the “Other” line suddenly jumps up at the end…

Here’s a breakdown of the mobile browsers we see in Australia:

It looks like almost everyone in Australia who bought a smartphone or tablet went with an iPhone or iPad, and the fact that that market share grew in December is interesting. Perhaps a large number of people in Australia got shiny new Apple hardware for Christmas this year!?

What browsers are people using in New Zealand?

The vast majority of people who visit our sites in New Zealand are doing so using desktop browsers:

I won’t dive into those mobile users because there aren’t enough of them to draw good conclusions, but here’s the breakdown of the desktop usage:

This one is intriguing. It looks like a large number of the visitors to our sites in New Zealand started using IE10 in October (or we gained a large amount of traffic from a single group of people using IE10 in October) and then they were immediately upgraded, by December, to IE11 and other current-generation web browsers.

It looks like these numbers include a lot of people using corporate- or government-managed machines with active, diligent operations teams keeping them up to date.

Small print

These statistics are compiled from visits to all three of our products: Budget Simulator, Citizen Space and Dialogue.

For comparable browser usage statistics from previous years, see our posts from 2015, 2014 and 2013.

2015 Browser Support Roundup: 3 reasons you need to transition off IE7 and IE8 ASAP

Roughly once a year, we produce a roundup of browser usage based on Apache logs from our web applications: Citizen Space, Dialogue App and Budget Simulator. I recently spent a morning running (a modified version of) an open-source log analysis program called Visitors against our log files and now I have a few charts to share.

We especially wanted to see the numbers of people still using Internet Explorer (IE) 7 and Internet Explorer 8. Why? Because everyone should be hoping for the day when the number of people using IE7 and 8 is precisely ‘zero’.

Now, that might sound harsh. Maybe you really like your old version of IE. Or, more likely, certain systems you work on are dependent on it, or the upheaval of switching everyone’s computers over to a different browser is just too much to contemplate. But I’m afraid that sticking with old IE is a false economy and a bad move. If you’re an IE7 or 8 user, you really need to be gearing up to transition to a newer browser ASAP. Here’s why:

1. No more support

Microsoft have announced they will be dropping support for all but the latest-available versions of Internet Explorer for each version of Windows on the 12th of January 2016.

On Windows Vista, this means that only IE9 will be supported. On Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, only IE11 will be supported. There are no other supported desktop versions of Windows, Windows XP having been discontinued some time ago.

This leaves IE7 and IE8 as unsupported software. On the 13th of January 2016, Microsoft tech support will not help you out with issues on Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 8. Microsoft want people to use a modern IE; they ran a ‘kill IE6’ campaign and 7 & 8 now look to be headed in a similar direction.

2. Serious security vulnerabilities

Using unsupported browsers like this will expose you (and potentially citizens on whose behalf you’re working) to unnecessary risk of having sensitive information leaked or stolen.

If the next big, scary, security bug like Heartbleed or FREAK to be unveiled after the 13th of January 2016 turns out to affect Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 8, no fix or patch will be forthcoming.

Your choices will come down to: running a web browser that may permit your computer to be broken into or connections to be spied on at any time; ceasing to use a web browser at all; or switching to a different web browser in a hurry with no warning or time to test that the applications you need to use still work with the new browser.

If your organisation is currently deploying IE7 or IE8 to end users, you need to already be working on migrating to a web browser for which security support will exist on the 13th of January 2016 so that you can deploy before the official cut-off deadline.

3. Outdated browsers cost you (and everyone else) money

The harsh reality is that these browsers are deprecated, dreadfully faulty and have very poor support for modern web standards. They each include an enormous quantity of bugs that must be worked around by every developer trying to target them. And there’s no getting around the fact that this costs money.

The ecosystem of open-source and commercial libraries that most contemporary web applications rely on has been moving away from these antiquated browsers for some time now. For instance, Internet Explorer 9 is the oldest version of Internet Explorer which the jQuery project’s main 2.x branch now supports. This makes writing applications that support obsolete browsers more expensive by the day. Programmers who have to target obsolete browsers often can not reuse software components that their peers and middleware vendors publish. Not being able to reuse off-the-shelf software means that programmers must re-build, from scratch and at great expense, functionality that already exists elsewhere.

The ecosystem of commercial application vendors is moving away from antiquated browsers, too. Organisations that are stuck on obsolete Internet Explorer versions are cutting themselves off from the ability to use best-of-breed web applications. Commercial vendors have been deciding that it is not financially viable to provide support for the dinosaurs of the web. For instance, Google Apps dropped support for IE8 in 2012 and then dropped support for IE9 in 2013. Even Microsoft’s own Office 365 supports only versions 9 and later of Internet Explorer.

Old IE helps nobody

As I said, it really is in everyone’s interest to see an end of IE7 & 8 usage. Switching away from these old browsers will save you money, save you security nightmares and save you the frustration of unanswered requests for help.

Are we there yet?

So…to the statistics. Will we find that we’ve already made it to the promised land of a world without IE7 & 8?

How many people are using obsolete browsers in the UK?

When we look at all visits to our customers’ sites in the UK, we’re seeing a pleasing uptake of the so-called evergreen browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. “Evergreen” web browsers are those which always keep themselves up to date without bothering users. This is fantastic news for us and any organisation that makes web applications since we only need to worry about the latest stable version of each evergreen browser, rather than having to develop against all of the historical versions at once.

Browsers used by all site visitors in the United Kingdom

The fact that the two most widely-used versions of Internet Explorer are version 11 and version 9 is also good news. IE9 is the latest version of Internet Explorer that Microsoft has made available for Windows Vista, and IE11 is the latest version available for all newer versions of Windows. The fact that these versions are widely used by the public indicates that many users of Internet Explorer are getting their browser upgraded by Windows Update.

However, it seems (for the moment, at least) that the public sector has still got a way to go to catch up to the general public on this front.

How many people are using obsolete browsers in the UK government?

Here I’ve filtered things down to just visitors to management pages in our applications. These management pages are used by our customers in the UK, who are mostly staff in the UK public sector. Of course, the situation isn’t precisely comparable – here, browser usage will mostly be determined by IT departments who have to decide how to transition hundreds of users at a time, rather than individuals who can simply click ‘update now’.

Browsers used by government users in the United Kingdom

These numbers are…not great. There’s a little good news here: the second single most-used browser is IE9, which is okay. Not the greatest browser ever, but okay. There’s also a little bit of relatively-early IE11 adoption. That’s good to see.

But mostly, this is a troubling picture. About a quarter of our UK government users are still using Internet Explorer 8. And 3.1% of our UK government users are still on Internet Explorer 7.

While 3.1% doesn’t sound like much, it’s enough that developers like us still have to write workarounds for IE7’s numerous bugs and deficiencies into our software on a regular basis, which means it’s costing these clients money. And, more than that, this chart represents a lot of people who’ve not got a whole lot of time to get switched over to a supported, up-to-date browser.

How many people are using obsolete browsers in Australia?

Evergreen browsers are not so common in this case. People using Internet Explorer seem to mostly be using the newer versions, but not so often the versions that I would have expected Windows Update to give them. (Not sure why this would be – possibly a consequence of Australia’s high bandwidth prices?)

Browsers used by all site visitors in Australia

There’s a very surprising spike of IE6 users on our sites from Australia. When I’ve dug into this, it turns out to be all coming from a single institution and going to a single site, so it’s not really representative of the population of Australia at large. I would have expected these to have stopped when we (and pretty much every other organisation running services on the internet) switched off SSLv3 support because of the POODLE vulnerability, but presumably this group has switched on TLS 1.0 support manually as a workaround.

Browsers the government use in Australia

Happily, the situation amongst government customers in Australia is less worrying than in the UK. Internet Explorer 8 is a small minority here and Internet Explorer 7 is gone entirely. The browsers in use tend to be far more modern on the whole. (It looks like IT departments haven’t started to pick up IE11 just yet.)

Browsers used by all site visitors in Australia

This is pretty much exactly the picture that I would expect to see from a population of IT departments that are determinedly working their way through an update schedule, being conservative because of the need to take the time to test everything before moving to on to the next version.

The 1.1% of Internet Explorer 6 users is due to the same one holdout. I’m not particularly worried about it: since they’re still using IE6 in the year 2015, I expect they’re probably already quite used to the fact that some things on the internet just mysteriously don’t work.


For everyone’s sake, we’re intending to drop Internet Explorer 7 to level 3 in our browser support policy as soon as we possibly can. To this end, we plan to start working with our customers to help them move off IE7 as soon as possible.

With Microsoft ending their support for it, IE8 needs to go the same way, too. Because 25% of our UK customer base currently use IE8, that’s a not-insignificant challenge. But it does need to be overcome at some point soon.

Also, we may start dishing out cookies/champagne/pictures of cats* to any IT department that pushes all the way up to IE11. The newer versions of Internet Explorer cause significantly fewer compatibility problems and run much faster than their coal-fired cousins, to boot. The lesser-spotted win-win!

*probably not really. Maybe the latter. Maybe.

2014 Browser Usage roundup: Will IE7 soon go the way of IE6?

Roughly once a year since 2011 I’ve been doing a roundup of browser usage, based on visitors to two of our apps: Citizen Space and Dialogue App*.

As in previous years, I took the last month’s logs from our web servers, and ran them through an open source analysis package called Visitors.  In contrast to previous years, these stats now cover all our servers worldwide – not just in the UK.

Since visits to our Australian servers now account for a notable proportion of our apps’ traffic, this year I have also included a separate breakdown just for our Australian stats.

Worldwide browser usage

I’ve generated two different reports: one for our apps’ management pages (i.e. pages that can only be accessed by logged-in admin users), and one that includes public-facing pages as well. Here are the figures for our admin users:

March 2014 admin visits by browser: IE8: 41.4%; Chrome: 16.5%; IE9: 13.4%; Firefox: 12.4%; IE7: 9.5%; Safari: 3.7%; IE10: 2.1%; IE11: 1.0% Visits to admin pages by browser, March 2014**

It’s a relief to see that IE6 has not made a reappearance in the past year, and also that IE7 usage has dropped from 15.3% in April 2013 to less than 10% a year later.

We currently provide Level 2 support for IE7, which means that all functionality and navigation must work, and all content must be readable in IE7.  However, we’d much prefer to spend our time developing new features that benefit everyone, rather than fixing bugs that only appear in this eight-year-old browser.  Over the next few months we hope to encourage our customers to move to more modern browsers so that we can drop admin support for IE7.

The second chart shows visits to all Citizen Space and Dialogue App pages, including visits from members of the public:

March 2014 visits by browser: Chrome: 21.1%; IE8: 17.4%; Firefox: 14.8%; Safari: 14.0%; IE11: 5.1%; IE7: 4.8%; IE9: 4.3%; Opera: 4.2%; IE10: 4.0%; IE6: 3.9%; Other Mozilla-based: 3.6% Visits to all pages by browser, March 2014**

As you would expect, this shows a much wider range of web browsers, including a few visits from IE6. By the way, I’ve excluded visits from crawlers, bots, RSS feed readers and other things that aren’t conventional human-controlled web browsers.

It’s interesting to compare these stats with last year’s numbers.  In particular, the most popular browser is now Google Chrome, which has overtaken IE8 – last year’s frontrunner.  However, usage of IE8 still remains far higher amongst our users than you’d predict based on global figures from StatCounter.

Browser usage in Australia

Although the majority of traffic to Delib’s apps is served from our UK servers, traffic to our Australian servers now constitutes a notable proportion of visitors (8.5%, based on last month’s stats).

March 2014 australian admin visits by browser: IE8: 28.7%; IE9: 25.9%; Chrome: 23.5%; IE10: 8.0%; Firefox: 7.6%; Safari: 4.8%; IE11: 1.2%; IE7: 0.4% Visits to admin pages on Australian Servers by browser, March 2014**

IE8 is still the most popular browser amongst our Australian admin users, but its lead is far less marked than in the UK.

March 2014 australian visits by browser: Firefox: 20.2%; Chrome: 18.6%; Safari: 14.9%; IE7: 11.0%; IE9: 7.0%; IE6: 6.4%; IE11: 5.8%; IE10: 4.6%; IE7: 4.5%; Opera: 2.3%; Other Mozilla-based: 2.0%; IE Unknown Version: 1.2% Visits to all pages on Australian servers by browser, March 2014**

When we consider all pages, not just admin pages, it’s interesting to see that the most popular browser used to visit our Australian sites is Firefox.  This is in contrast to StatCounter’s figures for Australian Browser usage, which pegs Chrome usage at more than double that of Firefox.  The numbers here are fairly small (16K visits a month) so this could have been skewed by one particularly Firefox-heavy demographic of survey respondents, for example.


* Visits to our newest app, Budget Simulator, are not included here, as a lot of the administration is done by Delib account managers, and our choice of browser would skew the statistics quite a lot.  Also, the visitor profile of Budget Simulator leans quite heavily towards mobile users.  I feel another blog post coming on!

** For the purposes of these statistics, a ‘visit’ comprises all the requests from a given IP address and useragent on a given day.

Browser usage: could UK government finally be rid of IE6?

In what seems to have become a roughly annual tradition, I’ve just done a survey of the browser usage amongst our UK Citizen Space users. As in previous years, I took the last month’s logs from our UK-based web servers, and ran them through an open source analysis package called Visitors.

I’ve generated two different reports: one for Citizen Space’s management pages (i.e. pages that can only be accessed by logged-in admin users), and one that includes public-facing pages as well. Here are the figures for our admin users:

IE8: 43.2%; Firefox: 16.6%; Chrome: 15.5%; IE7: 15.3%; IE9: 5.7%; Safari: 3.1%; IE10: 0.5%; Other Mozilla based: 0.1%

Admin visits by browser, April 2013*

This first chart shows something wonderful: last month, nobody used Internet Explorer 6 to administer their UK Citizen Space site.

For those who don’t know, Microsoft’s venerable Internet Explorer version 6 (AKA IE6) was released back in 2001, and is notorious for rendering web pages very differently from modern, standards-compliant browsers. To support IE6, web developers have to spend a lot of time writing workarounds to make web pages display correctly in all browsers. Of course, this increases the cost of product development without benefitting those users who don’t use IE6. Last year Delib decided to stop actively supporting IE6 in our apps, and these latest figures clearly vindicate that decision.

The second chart shows visits to all Citizen Space pages, including visits from members of the public:

IE8: 20.6%; Firefox: 15.3%; Chrome: 14.6%; Unknown: 10.8%; Safari: 9.7%; Opera: 6.7%; IE7: 6.6%; IE9: 5.0%; IE6: 4.9%; IE10: 3.0%

All visits by browser, April 2013*

As you would expect, this shows a much wider range of web browsers, including a few visits from IE6. The ‘Unknown’ useragents are mostly made up of crawlers, bots, RSS feed readers and other things that aren’t conventional human-controlled web browsers.

It is interesting to compare our statistics with current worldwide browser usage. At the time of writing, Google Chrome and Firefox are the most widely used browsers, followed by IE9 and then IE8. In contrast, our stats show that IE8 is by far the most common browser used to access Citizen Space.

My theory is that most of the activity (both administration and participation) on our Citizen Space sites takes place during the working day, where people are less likely to have a choice about the software they use, and are more likely to be stuck with a slightly out-of-date standard-issue browser. Incidentally, Edd at GDS made some interesting observations about this same phenomenon last month.

* For the purposes of these statistics, a ‘visit’ comprises all the requests from a given IP address and useragent on a given day.

Good news on IE6: government usage plummets in 2012

Almost a year ago, we published some interesting browser statistics based on the logs from one of our Central Government Citizen Space servers. We ran the logs through a piece of open source analysis software called Visitors, and this gave us an anonymous breakdown of all visits to Citizen Space, showing the browsers and versions that were used. We looked at the statistics for all pages, and compared them with the stats for pages only accessible to admin users. The results were insightful but rather scary: Internet Explorer 6 accounted for more than 1 in 3 visits by our Central Government admin users.

For those who don’t know, Internet Explorer version 6 (lovingly known as IE6) is a web browser that Microsoft released over a decade ago. Because it renders web pages differently (in some cases dramatically differently) from more modern browsers, web developers spend a great deal of time creating workarounds so that IE6 users can still access our websites. Of course, this increases the cost of product development without necessarily offering any benefit to the majority of web users who don’t use IE6. Coupled with the fact that IE6 now only receives limited support from Microsoft, almost everyone is in agreement that this ancient and decrepit browser must be phased out.

This morning, we had a comment on last year’s post from a reader who was interested in how Citizen Space’s browser stats had changed. Thank you Perry – you reminded me that I’d been meaning to re-do this analysis soon. So here are the graphs comparing the numbers 11 months ago with where we are today:

Central Government Citizen Space – all users (admin and public)

All users by browser, May 2011

Breakdown of visits by browser: IE8: 23.0%, Firefox: 15.6%, IE9: 14.9%, IE7: 14.9%, Chrome: 13.2%, Safari: 10.8%, IE6: 5.9%

All users by browser, April 2012

These statistics roughly follow the browser trends of the general internet population*, with IE8 and 9 increasing in popularity while the older IE versions decrease as expected. Pleasingly, IE6 usage has roughly halved since last May.

Firefox, Chrome and Safari have gained more of a stronghold in the past year, although interestingly, Internet Explorer as a whole has retained a far larger share of Citizen Space users than worldwide browser usage statistics* would predict.

Central Government Citizen Space instances – admin pages only

Admin users by browser, May 2011

Breakdown of visits by browser: IE8: 60.3%, IE7: 29.3%, Chrome: 3.8%, IE6: 2.4%, Firefox: 1.8%, IE9: 1.3%, Safari: 1.1%

Admin users by browser, April 2012

When looking at the statistics for our admin users, the most exciting thing is that usage of IE6 has crashed by 90% – from 35% down to 2.4% of visits. This is a great relief to us, and shows the huge effort that has taken place in government IT departments to upgrade users away from this insecure, ill-supported browser.

It’s worth noting that overall, usage of Internet Explorer among our Central Government users is more than 90%, compared to 34% worldwide*.

What next?

The interesting question is what levels of support to provide for different browser capabilities. We currently provide Level 2 support for IE6, which means that all content must be readable and navigable, but differences in styling and layout may exist. This works OK for our products at the moment, but as web users come to expect a richer and more fluid experience, the likes of IE6 are going to lag further and further behind. How small does the percentage of IE6 users need to be before we can stop supporting it at all?

To other web developers: when do you stop supporting ancient browsers and those with limited functionality? How much can you rely on the presence of client-side technologies like Javascript, cookies, HTML5, CSS3..?

To government IT managers (thank you for phasing out IE6 btw!) what level of support do you expect for older browsers? Do security constraints dictate that you disable features like Javascript or cookies?

As always, I’d love to hear your views.

*Worldwide browser statistics from statcounter.com.

IE6 – the facts: 1 in 3 of our government clients still using it

We spend a lot of development time ensuring that our software is usable across all the commonly used web browsers. A disproportionate amount of this time is spent ensuring compliance with Microsoft’s archaic Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), which is 10 years old this year.

From time to time, we wonder whether we could provide better value for money by dropping support for IE6 and making more use of the facilities provided by newer browsers; a decision that has already been taken by the likes of YouTube, Facebook and Google.

Steph Gray recently blogged about whether Alphagov should have dropped IE6 support. Steph critiqued this decision, pointing out that a lot of civil servants still use IE6. We thought it might be useful to share the breakdown of browser usage by our civil service clients.

What do the numbers show?

Here is a chart of browser usage on the admin pages of our Citizen Space app, for the servers used by our Central Government clients:

IE7: 47.5%, IE6: 35.4%, Firefox: 7.1%, Chrome: 5.9%, IE8: 3.4%, Safari: 0.7%

Breakdown of admin pages by browser

And here is a graph of browser usage across all Citizen Space pages (admin and public-facing) on the same servers:

IE7: 21.2%, IE8: 20.3%, Firefox: 14.3%, Unknown: 13.2%, IE6: 11.0%, Chrome: 9.3%, Safari: 6.6%, IE9: 3.0%, Others: 1.2%

Breakdown of all pages by browser

Here you can see that IE6 is used by more than a third of our Citizen Space administrators, but only about a tenth of the total visitors. At the moment, there is clearly a need to continue supporting IE6 for our clients, but it does seem a shame when this investment could be put towards improving the user experience of the site’s end users.

I could write more words about these differences, but here’s another chart that tells the story pretty clearly:

Comparison of browser usage by admin users and all visitors

We’ll be keeping an eye on these figures to see how they change with time, and we’d also be interested to know how they compare with data from other sites aimed at government clients around the world. Does anyone else have any data they’d like to share?

The science bit:

  • Data was taken from May 2011’s Apache access logs from one of our Citizen Space servers. Data is anonymised.
  • We parsed the logs using the open-source Visitors software (which we modified to include the most recent versions of IE). The software can be downloaded from http://www.hping.org/visitors/doc.html.
  • Statistics are based on visits rather than pageviews, where a visit is all requests for a given useragent and IP address on one day.
  • We excluded any visits from our own IP address and from our server monitoring services.
  • We did not exclude crawlers and other bots, which probably account for the majority of the ‘unknown’ useragents in the second chart.

Internet Explorer Increasingly Less Used

It’d be no surprise to anyone I wouldn’t think, that Internet Explorer is not exactly our favourite browser here at Delib towers. Not only do none of us use it at work or at home, it’s also the one that causes far and away the most trouble when developing sites for clients, in terms of making sure the site looks right and works correctly.

So it may be schadenfreude, but it’s still pleasing to read here that the percentage of web users using Internet Explorer has for the first time dipped beneath the 50% mark. There’s an interesting article in the pie chart about which browsers are most used as well.

Tragic then, that in response to a recent petition, the UK Government has stated that it’s going to keep on using Internet Explorer version 6, despite the fact that it’s getting on for 10 years old, and Microsoft is now on Internet Explorer version 9.

But surely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? If IE6 still works, then why should government change? Well, for one thing, the internet’s moved on a huge amount since 2001 when IE6 was released, and does things now that weren’t even dreamt possible then. The more people stick with IE6, the less they’re going to be able to do online, and the more they’re going to have to spend on software to make sure that it still works with a browser fewer and fewer of their actual customers are using.

In reality, a lot of the cost this generates is shouldered by software companies rather than government, and I guess we have an obvious interest to declare in this regard. But it seems like a backwards move not to at least upgrade your version of IE, let alone move to another browser.

It’s also an odd position to take for a government that claims it wants to encourage businesses to generate money to get the economy back on track.