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Fun with analytics: Browsers and resolutions.

Web analytics fascinate me. It is amazing how greatly your visitor’s browsers and screen resolutions can vary depending on what type of product or service your website offers. While I have access to several of my client’s analytics, I knew that they probably wouldn’t be a good forecast of what types of visitors a portfolio site would bring, so I was excited to see what technology capabilities my audience had.

Browser Support

I knew Firefox was likely to be the heavyweight, but I was really curious to see how webkit-based browsers would fair. With CSS elements like anti-aliasing, your coded site can look virtually identical to the PSD, and with webkit transitions, you can make your page come alive without a lick of javascript. While Firefox has great all-around support, it lacks some refinement, leading me to believe that webkit is the future of modern browsing technology.

Browser Analytics
Fig. 1a Webkit-based browsers are really making moves.

Here is the breakdown of browser percentages for the first 50,000 hits at foundationsix.com. I am quite surprised to see the percentage of webkit browser visits hovering right around 34%, and I am excited for the lack of hits from IE, which is running around 5% for all versions.

Ie analytics
Fig. 1b Could this finally mean the long, drawn-out death of IE6?

When you dig a little deeper into the IE numbers, you will see that at 222 hits, IE6 users only account for 0.04% of Foundation Six’s traffic. For those of you that questioned it, clearly there is a justified lack of support.

Display Resolution

When I started designing the new foundationsix.com, I knew I wanted to make a strong visual impact with the homepage, so I figured, “Why not try a 1080 pixel-wide layout?” I felt like I couldn’t get all of my desired content on a 960px wide homepage, and I thought it was a good time to experiment with modern display resolutions. Going into the project, my biggest concern was, “How many monitors will be able to display foundationsix.com without offering up a horizontal scroll bar?”,  when it should have been, “How many pages of the site actually look correct with that wide of a layout?”

Once I got over that minor design block, I am glad I chose 1080.

For the few comments I received on the site being too wide, I had dozens more praising the fact that it went beyond 960 pixels. I presently work on a 30” Apple Display with a resolution of 2560 X 1600, and needless to say, current websites tend to look a little puny. No, I don’t think everyone has this large of a monitor, but even my mother who is pushing 60 uses a 23” display. What is your excuse?

Resolution Analytics
Fig. 2a Looks like a 1080 pixel-wide layout was a safe bet.

Well, the numbers backed up my theories, and 1080 pixels is definitely a safe width, provided you add some minor tweaks for iPhone and iPad support. Only around 4% of my visitors have a screen resolution that is below the acceptable range for foundationsix.com, and even for them, the viewing experience is relatively the same as long as you don’t mind scrolling a few pixels horizontally.

Bottom Line

I am not naive. I know that many foundationsix.com visitors are probably fellow web designers visiting from CSS galleries, and are more likely to use modern browsers and take advantage of higher screen resolutions, skewing my statistics. I know that some companies won’t allow an update past IE6, and are still making employees work on a radiation-emitting 17” CRT fishbowl. You just have to decide who your audience is. If this is your audience, break out the custom IE6 style sheets, and the 960 grid system.

But these aren’t the customers I generally work with. If it were, you better believe my site would look stellar on old Windows beige boxes.