By the numbers: how users are browsing the web and the impact it has on how we build websites

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It’s no secret that the way in which we browse the internet has been changing. However, keeping on top of the data we use to inform strategic, aesthetic and technical decisions can be difficult. New mobile devices are being introduced on a seemingly daily basis. Software is being iterated upon at an ever-increasing pace. Stepping back and looking at the numbers is key to providing a stable user-experience and being ahead of emerging trends.

At ckd we use two techniques to help keep us on top of this task:

1 – Analysing external large sample size data

There are many sources of high-quality, large sample size data freely available on the internet. We regularly check against StatCounter’s Global Stats. When filtered down to UK data, the sample size is 770 million page views over a yearly period.

Here’s how the numbers look at the moment:

Web traffic by browser

Chrome: 48
Internet Explorer (all versions): 19.6%
– IE11: 12.99%
– IE10: 2.36%
– IE9: 3.24%
– IE8: 2.48%
Firefox: 16.73%
Safari: 10.63%

Mobile device web traffic by operating system

Apple iOS: 58.09%
Google Android: 32.33%
Blackberry: 5.4%
Windows Phone: 2%

Web traffic by device type

Desktop: 62.95%
Mobile: 23.38%
Tablet: 13.66%

2 – Viewing our own analytics

All of the websites we manage are set up with Google Analytics, providing us with vast insight into user engagement.

A big benefit of having our own data is that we can see how users interact with websites in specific sectors that we service. External data might have a larger sample size but it often lacks the ability to be filtered by sector – a metric that often impacts the types of users that browse a website. For example, our own data shows that parents browsing a school’s website from home will likely be using more up-to-date software than employees of a large corporate company.

Conclusion

It’s easy not to put the time aside to check movements in user behaviour. However, it is more important than ever to ensure we do. Assuming user behaviour is following a certain pattern can be dangerous and lead to decisions that could negatively impact a website’s performance. We also have an opportunity to make unbiased decisions on what technologies we should carry on supporting. We currently test against Internet Explorer 8, but with a slipping market share of 2.48%, it’s difficult to see support lasting too much longer. The positive impact is that we can focus less on supporting older software and invest more time innovating with newer, exciting technologies.