What’s the Best Source for Browser Usage Stats?

What's the Best Source for Browser Usage Stats?The other day I sent out a tweet asking what everyone thought was the best source for browser usage stats.

I wanted to know if there were any sources I’d not yet heard of that offer reliable global statistics for usage stats for various browsers.

Well, I didn’t get too many responses to the tweet, but I decided to put together my own list of sources for reliable browser usage stats.

Analytics for the Existing Site

If you are redesigning, realigning, adding to, or maintaining a website or web app that already has an established audience, then the #1 place you should look for browser usage statistics is in the existing analytics data of that website.

And naturally, when I asked this question in the aforementioned tweet, the responses were mainly along those lines.

You might even want to take this a step further and use something like Google Analytics along with a server-side solution that doesn’t rely on JavaScript. This way, you’ll have something to compare with the Google Analytics stats, and this may be a more conclusive overall report.

But what if you want some general stats for a project not yet built? Well, in addition to doing research on the market and audience you’re targeting, there are a couple of sources you may want to use as a basis for deciding on what browsers you want to support.

StatCounter Global Stats

StatCounter Global Stats

How Does StatCounter Compile its Data?

Stats are based on aggregate data collected by StatCounter on a sample exceeding 15 billion pageviews per month collected from across the StatCounter network of more than 3 million websites.

Net Applications

Net Applications

How Does Net Applications Compile its Data?

We collect data from the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on-demand network of live stats customers. The data is compiled from approximately 160 million visitors per month. The information published is an aggregate of the data from this network of hosted website statistics.

W3Counter

W3Counter

How Does W3Counter Compile its Data?

This report was generated … based on the last 15,000 page views to each website tracked by W3Counter. W3Counter’s sample currently includes 47,262 websites. The browser market share graph includes data from all versions of the named browser families, not only the top 10 as listed below.

StatOwl

StatOwl

How Does StatOwl Compile its Data?

Our data is made up of an average of 28 million unique visitors per month to the network of web sites that we collect data from. We do our best to collect data only from web sites that have a broad appeal taking things like target market, audience, geographic location and type of web site into consideration. We attempt to cover a good mix of all of these indicators to provide as accurate a look as possible into Internet browsing trends.

Clicky

Clicky

How Does Clicky Compile its Data?

Marketshare is calculated from over 300 million daily page views across the 300,000+ web sites that use Clicky Web Analytics.

What About W3schools?

Unfortunately, if you do a Google search for the phrase “browser usage stats”, the #1 result will be the browser stats page from W3schools. And it’s very likely that many developers are using those stats as a guide for new projects.

How does W3schools compile its data?

W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to the browser that comes preinstalled with their computer, and do not seek out other browser alternatives. These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is a more popular browser.

Sadly, that quote appears buried near the bottom of their stats page. Thus, many developers use W3schools’ stats without considering where the data comes from.

This is not to say, however, that their data is useless. Far from it. It’s quite relevant for developers creating sites and applications geared at a tech-savvy audience. So it is useful, but clearly should not be the first result in a Google search.

Important Note: When I linked to W3schools’ stats page, I added rel="nofollow" to the link. If you ever link to their stats page, you should do the same. W3schools has nothing to do with the W3C, and there are many better and more accurate web development resources that you can link to if the need arises.

Know of Any Other Reliable Sources?

Much of the stuff I’ve compiled in this post was taken from this article on Wikipedia, but I’ve tried to summarize it here in a more digestable and easy-to-access format.

If you have any other sites or apps that provide good sources for web browser usage stats, let me know in the comments and I’ll add some links at the end of this post for future reference.

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32 Responses

  1. I like Statcounter. Its easy to use. Thanks for great post!

  2. Jeason:

    IE still occupy him into the first. This part may include the users who are using the browsers based on IE(They must have IE installed) such as Avant browser, maxthon or others?
    I will sit back and wait for the the final winner in this big and long war between browser and also the OS.

  3. bella:

    aha i used these browser ,i downloaded them when i saw the news about them.but i found it’s not as good as what they said .so i back to avant browser .it’s fit me in the world .

  4. http://upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat.htm is one I visit from time to time. Not as slick as the ones mentioned but I like the personal touch sometimes :)

  5. I like the way http://www.theie6countdown.com/ presents data.

    Too bad it’s just for IE6.

  6. Useful information….!!! Thanks for sharing…Keep it Up..!!

  7. The most relevant data for any particular web site is from the analytics program that’s installed. (OK, this assumes an analytics program has been installed. Also assumes a site without one isn’t going to be concerned with the data anyway.) All front-end web developers/designers concerned with what browsers may support a revision/modification that would be built in HTML5 or CSS3 should check the analytics for what percentage of the site’s users have a given version of a browser. Then, if support for an attribute/element is still in question, visit a site such as http://www.html5test.com (or http://beta.html5test.com) and see if a particular browser version supports the attribute/element in question.

  8. Thank you for your efforts. good statistics. beautifully decorated

  9. Agree with the above (I assume I’m correct in this interpretation) that the best source of browser usage stats is your own web server log. Different business sectors have different age and social class demographics, which heavily affect the browser and OS versions that the web apps see. Home shopping sites with a large constituent of older customers typically see a significant number of IE6 hits, whereas any development wishing to make the fullest possible use of CSS support would probably consider unsupporting IE6. Likewise, you would probably expect to see a higher than average proportion of Linux-and-Mac-coloured UA strings on sourceforge – and OS/platform testing is relatively disregarded compared to pure browser testing.

    In the absence of the above on a greenfield site for example, I’ve previously used w3schools, but this is a useful addition to the test design toolbox.

  10. Theo:

    Great overview, i like to belive that “Statcounter” is near to the real stats.

  11. Hey everyone,
    I use Stat Counter http://statcounter.com as well.

  12. I think Stat Counter is the best too…

  13. Analytics, no hesitation !

  14. karl:

    The stats are often given for desktop which is becoming less and less relevant. You have also to look for Mobile browser stats. The picture is widely different specifically if you look at it country by country. statcounter.com is not bad for this.

  15. Lee:

    I think anyone still using IE 6 should be shot anyway. Cant believe that Net applications data is an accurate representation putting it at 10%. Very useful post!

  16. Troels Hviid:

    Hi,
    Do any one know a stat site where you can get browser stat by version, country and OS and do NOT cost a fortune?

    Say IE 8 in Denmark devided into OSs?

    • In http://gs.statcounter.com you can get stats by country, browser, and OS. You can’t search by browser and SO combined though, but it gets close to what you want. It’s free also :P

      And I want to say loudly, as a front-end developer struggling with outdated technologies, Why in the world are IE <9 still so largely used, ffs? My life is a bit harder just for this :(

  17. Bart:

    As you say in your blog, Google Analytics is best for existing sites, or sites that have a similar demographic to one you are going to build. I find the Analytics interface a bit clumsy for getting the information I want, so knocked up a site (http://browsertest.info) that uses the Analytics API to present the data in a more useful format.

  18. jo:

    ie is the best browser for downloading firefox and chrome

  19. FJ:

    I ade a spreadsheet with the average of w3counter, statscounter, hitslink, wikimedia:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvDPn6IGEDe4dE5xMXo4MUJEYXFWYnBabUdyMDdwcFE

  20. Mateusz:

    I use Wikipedia – they inform about under- and overestimations done by all analysis mentioned above.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

    Regards,
    Mateusz

  21. You said that W3Schools are less reliable as they’re are aimed at more tech savvy people. However, I found that they are the closest to the stats we’ve collected for our site. The strange this is that our site sells artificial wedding flowers. As most people get married at some point in their lives, our potential customers of young women do not match the ‘tech savvy’ demographics you stated above, but consist of half of the population!

    • Hm. That’s pretty odd. The important thing is, you’re tracking it yourself. Your own stats are what really matter, so this list of resources is basically just for people who want to get an overall idea of what the browser stats are like for a new project that has no stats yet.

  22. sepelkA:

    Which Browser my development should work on?? http://www.freakzion.com/index.php/The-Blog-May-2013/browser-compatibility.html

    Thanks for this great post!!!

  23. Nice article and useful info. I think Statcounter is fairly accurate but can anything really compare to Google Analytics?

  24. Rob:

    What? This article doesn’t even answer or at least try summarise the question asked in it’s own title. “What’s the Best Source for Browser Usage Stats?”

    • Because there is no answer to the question, really. The best source depends on your needs and circumstances.

      For example, if you have existing analytics stats, then that’s the best source (as I explain in the intro). But if you want a general idea of stats, the ones I list are basically in general order of importance.

      It’s more of an open question, really, inviting everyone to think about it, rather than trying to be dogmatic about one particular source. Maybe I should have made that more clear, but whatever, I think most people understand that there really is no definite answer to that question.

  25. Huseynov_I:

    Thank you for the article, as for me all of your browsers cannot shrink data to 80-70 % like Opera does,no one. Even Chrome suggests only 20%(proxy option).And the matter isnt only in the traffic cost.Its also speed.Opera mini compresses even till 85%.of course some pages wouldnt render full abilities but in such cases you can just switch turbo mode off :)))

  26. Firebush:

    Good article that may finally prevent people from reading browser stats without trying to understand what the data they read is really meaning.

    In fact, there is no stat that can reflect the absolute reality of browser usage.

    First, the users can control their browser identity and/or block specific domains (the ones on which the tracking images are hosted for instance) in order not to be tracked or to get a specific content they would not get otherwise. It’s not all users who know how to perform this though, but with the web now being as «usual» as traffic lights, there are more and more of them who want to forbid tracking and who easily find how to do it on the web.

    Also, since all these stats do not include social data (age, profession, etc…), they don’t mean much and you can’t really try to mix them up. Thus, trying to true global vision of browser usage is just a bubble.

    Your Google Analytics -or other analytics- can provide you some hints that can help you to know about you own visitors on a technical point of view, in order to adapt you website to your target. For instance, if you notice more than 20% people visiting your website from a smartphone, you’d surely want to make your website smartphone friendly if it is not yet in order to make it fully efficient. But if you notice that there is a low percentage of mobile users on your website, that might mean -due to the impressive amount of web-enabled mobile devices sold up to date- that your website is not smartphone friendly and should be adapted.

    As stated in this article, most stats providers are absolutely true, but absolutely biased : many of them do not get stats from selected websites reflecting the reality of the web, they just deliver the stats from clients that they didn’t choose. They may provide a trend, but not the real marketshare.

    In conclusion, if you want to get a global figure of the browser marketshare, you should be aware that what is called «stats» are no stats but surveys.

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