Cross Browser Testing and Browser Usage Stats

In my group, I’m one of the few sticklers for testing our web applications in browsers other than Internet Explorer. I can understand that - it’s there and it’s buried so deep in Windows that a Microsoft patch to change even a button color often requires a reboot. Developers are subject to inertia like everybody else.

But there is rarely a time I test an application written in Visual Studio/ASP.NET and don’t find something that, rendered in Firefox, looks like it came out of the southern end of a north-bound kangaroo.

Testing web sites on multiple browsers is no longer something you need to do to humor the recalcitrant Linux geek out there. Take a look at the latest browser usage stats from Onestat:

Browser July 2006
Internet Explorer 79.78%
Mozilla Firefox 15.82%
Apple Safari 3.28%
Opera 0.81%
Netscape 0.20%

These stats are on par with others I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a number of polls that show IE usage even lower. Here in the USA, home of Microsoft, IE usage is below 80%. That means out of every five people that visit your web site, at least one of them is not using Internet Explorer. I don’t see IE 7 changing that, as it simply improves IE to be mostly on par with the last versions of Firefox, Safari, and Opera*.

So, if you currently do cross-browser testing, thumbs up, and if you don’t, you should start right away. And Firefox isn’t the only player out there. If you have Javascript that only checks for IE and Firefox, you’re usually (but not always) OK to have everything not IE run like it’s Firefox instead.

To can view the original Onestat article and browser statistics here.

*I’m dismissing the IE 7 security claims out of hand - I’m old enough to remember Microsoft describing IE 6 before its launch as being a virtual Fort Knox, and there have already been security patches released for IE 7 - and it’s still in Beta.