25 October 2011

Web display - some statistics to bear In mind these days

Windows 7 overtook Windows XP at last a little while ago. Mac and Linux maintain a small but constant share and it will be interesting to see how Android and mobile browser use statistics grow.

There are three clear leaders in the browser field: Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Google and Mozilla continue to eat away at Microsoft's domination. Will IE9 halt that decline? Will Chrome take over the No.1 spot?

Time was when we designed web pages for users with 800 pixel screens with some nods towards the 1024 folk with nice backgrounds to occupy the space either side. Now, it would seem safe to move to utilise an extra 25% of monitor estate although we may have to make mobile versions more readily available too. Unless your site is going to appear as a small box on the screen it may be time to look again at all those 760 pixel pages! But let us hope text lines don't start stretching.

These charts have been made using Google Documents' Spreadsheets and feature data from W3Schools. The nice thing about Google Charts is that now you can add them to sites not as a mere image but as an interactive feature where you can move the mouse to see more data and if I change the 'home' spreadsheet these will be automatically updated too. That is just so cool.

Google Charts are still in development and I noticed that I wasn't able to add a text box (for the thanks to W3Schools bit, for instance) and the Spreadsheet is still a bit clunky compared to Excel. Try as I did, changing the dates so that they would actually be interpreted as dates not text proved impossible (unless I added 1 to each which would have been a drag) and percentages seem to have to be either 0 or 2 decimals (or umpteen, perhaps) just not 1 decimal point as I wanted. No doubt someone will tell me how to fix these things under the bonnet before long!

Beware! Statistics Are Often Misleading

You cannot - as a web developer - rely only on statistics. Statistics can often be misleading. Global averages may not always be relevant to your web site. Different sites attract different audiences. Some web sites attract professional developers using professional hardware, while other sites attract hobbyists using old low spec computers. Also be aware that many statistics may have an incomplete or faulty browser detection. It is quite common by many web-stats report programs, not to detect the newest browsers. (The statistics above are extracted from W3Schools' log-files, but they are also monitoring other sources around the Internet to assure the quality of these figures).

No comments: