Why Maintaining A List of Supported Browsers and Versions Is Important
All browsers are not born equal.
While most people have preferences for one browser over another based upon look-and-feel or specific pieces of functionality. Those same people probably feel that all browsers are inherently the same on a foundational level. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case: Internet Explorer is different than Edge who is different than Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. They are built upon different underlying code. For example, Safari uses Webkit, Chrome uses Blink, Firefox uses Gecko, IE uses Trident, and Edge uses EdgeHTML.
These foundational differences in how each browser was developed means that the experience that each user has when visiting the Innovation Portal will be situationally based upon the browser they use. The site may look beautiful in Chrome and Safari while it looks terrible in Edge. This situation is exacerbated when you start to include different versions of each browser.
Versions Matter, Too!
The individual versions of each browser that particulars use to access your site can present a WIDE variety of user experiences. To see this for yourself load a new Internet Explorer browser, hit F12, and select the “Emulation” tab. Under the “Mode” section you can change the “User agent string” to various versions of Internet Explorer. Select an old version (e.g., IE 6, IE 7, etc.) and navigate to your favorite web page. Many, such as CNN, will include a warning that your browser is out-of-date and the entire user experience will most likely be different than what you are used to seeing.
So what? The importance of maintaining supported browsers and versions is multi-purposed. On the one-hand, it allows you to focus your development process time and effort to providing your users a meaningful experience within the context of how they interact with your site. If a majority (or even plurality) of your users hit your site with a single browser and are all within the last couple major releases of that browser then you can direct your development processes to ensure that you meet your users with the experience that they have come to expect for the Innovation Portal. Conversely, you do not want to spend time and effort chasing a browser or version that is only used by a tiny fraction of your entire user base. Your development dollars are better spent providing most of your users with an increased experience.
Secondly, browsers are constantly being updated to ensure that they are safe and secure while providing enhancements that improve usability. By keeping your site’s code fresh and in line with these newer releases your site can take advantage of these improvements. This reduces the amount of “technical debt” that you could incur by letting your browser supportability lapse several major releases which could hamper user adoption.
I was told there would be no math…
As a matter of “comparison shopping”, the current global market share of browsers are:
– Chrome 52.5%
– Safari 28.36%
– Firefox 5.26%
– Internet Explorer 5.1%
– Edge 3.39%
– Samsung Internet 1.84%
Similarly, the current North American market share of browser versions are:
– Chrome 63.0 27.73%
– Safari iPhone 17.76%
– Chrome for Android 17.48%
– Safari iPad 5.17%
– Internet Explorer 11.0 4.47%
– Firefox 57.0 3.31%
Click here to learn more about CleanSlate and how we can keep you out of “technical debt” and on top of your web game!