Internet Explorer 6,7 & 8 Trends In 2009


As the Google Analytics Administrator at my work I was able to track the visitors to our site throughout the year that used different browsers. Of particular interest to me was how many visitors used IE6. Anyone who has coded a website to be browser compliant knows how much of a pain it can be to try to get your design to look and work right in IE6. Plus, with Microsoft releasing IE8 this last year and Chrome coming on the scene, I wanted to see how the different versions of Internet Explorer changed over the months. What I found was pretty interesting. My works’ website gets more than 1 million visits per month so I figure it’s a pretty good barometer. We get quite a lot of repeat visitors as well.

I created a spreadsheet in Excel to track the versions of IE (6,7 and 8) and have created a PDF of the years worth of data that you can download. I tracked by month each versions’ total amount of visitors and it’s percentage of the total amount of visitors to the site.

IE6 started the year at 23.04% of the total visitors to our site and proceeded to drop about 1% a month. Some months it was a little more than 1% and some months it was a little less but it stayed around that mark most of the year. By the end of the year it had dropped to 12.58%. A big contributing factor was the release of IE8 in April. You can see by looking at the chart that in April IE8 jumped 3%. In subsequent months IE8 jumped quite a bit. Especially when Microsoft included it in it’s updates in October.

Oddly enough, IE7 took the biggest hit. Losing almost 30%! IE6 dropped, but nothing like that. I theorized that people running IE7 were either just more likely to upgrade to the newest browser or they got upgraded when it came out in the scheduled update. IE6 users probably are not keen on upgrading otherwise they would have upgraded to IE7. Or they are using the computer at their work and, because of some proprietary software, they cannot upgrade their version of IE.

If the trend of IE6 dropping 1%/month continues we may try to gracefully degrade it out of the list of browsers we support. We have talked about including a message to those visiting our site using IE6 that advises them to upgrade their browser to one that is newer and give them links to do so.

I’m excited to see us drop IE6 from our supported browser list. I’ve been a proponent of moving the web forward for quite a while and moving away from a bad browser like IE6 will allow us to do more cutting edge stuff with our site that we just couldn’t do before because of the time it would take to make the design work in IE6. Or we just couldn’t do some things because of IE6.

Well, I hope this helps others see how the Internet Explorer versions are trending. We need to phase out IE6 so we can move forward with new technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 which will make for a better user experience for all.

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