It’s 2007 what is your browser baseline?

It's 2007 what is your browser baseline?

Recently a developer was going over the browser baselines for a project, they listed them as: IE 6.0, Mozilla 1.5, Netscape 8.0, Opera 9.02 and Safari 1.2. I saw this and thought WAH? Mozilla and Netscape? No IE 7? Safari 1.2? Opera? Let’s take a look and see what should be the baselines for browsers in 2007.

First stop was to check out some global stats:

Browser Stats 1

Browser Stats 2

Looking at these two graphs, I think it’s safe to limit the browser testing to IE 6, IE 7, IE 5 (still has more market-share then Safari) Firefox and Safari.

A couple of points:

  • Developers are sometimes slow to trends, I’m assuming this is why Netscape was still on the list and IE 7 was not.
  • IE 7 is a automatic update for Windows XP and comes standard with Vista, you need to test it.
  • Netscape is now just a re-branded browser (either IE or Firefox).
  • Firefox is the Mozilla browser.
  • Safari 1.3 and 2.0 are functionally the same, they were released at the same time with the same CSS fixes.
  • The next question I hear from developers is “Why not just develop for IE? Look at the marketshare?”

    Well let me tell you…

    1) You should be developing for a Web Standards compliant browser (Firefox) then “breaking” it for IE and other browsers. This is the current trend in modern web development, get on the train.

    2) Firefox now has a large enough browser share to matter.

    3) Mac users (although low in % for browser share) are a segment of the market you want to cater to. They are willing to pay a premium for better experiences, and a large number of them are part of the creative class, making them a very vocal part of the web (writers, producers, designers, bloggers, etc…). A group you don’t want badmouthing your products.

    4) Ok, but why Opera? Well Opera really has the most potential out of the lot. This is due to Opera’s strong push to be included in embedded devices. I’ll just take one of the many examples – the Nintendo Wii – it comes with the Opera browser built in, and there are now 4+ million Wiis out in the wild with more and more being sold every day (or how about the 300+ million Nintendo DSs with Opera?). Opera is even being included in some DVD players.

    So what should the browser stats be?

    Here is my idea for some general guidelines when browser testing:

    Browser Baselines for Modern Web Applications
    Browsers: Versions:
    Internet Explorer 7.x (100%) 6.x (100%) 5.5 (Functional Only)
    FireFox 2.x (100%) 1.5.x (85%)
    Safari 2.x.x (95%)
    Opera 9.x (80%)

    If you notice, I’ve included %s next to the version numbers. This tells the developer what percentage “correct” it needs to be from the supplied mock-ups. Where as it needs to look 100% in Firefox, it only needs to be functional in IE 5.5 and 95% in Safari.

    How do you judge 95% in Safari? This should be up to the designers, if a image is off 10px off or some text is a little larger then in Firefox, then that should be OK – but if the tabs are broken and text is hovering outside a div, that may not be OK – it’s really up to the architect of the experience.

    I’ve attached a PDF to this post with some more information, something to pass on to your developers if you see they are testing for AOL 4.2 or something equally as awful.

    10 thoughts on “It’s 2007 what is your browser baseline?

    1. Hello, nice article! As a developer I tend to use the Yahoo compatibility charts (used in their YUI library). That is to say try to optimise (and even provide progressive enhancement to certain agents) for ‘A’ grade browsers and ‘X’ grade browsers, whilst providing graceful degradation for ‘C’ grade browsers.

      Its a useful chart, and Yahoo update it quarterly, meaning it is fairly up to date with current browser usage. I would say that IE 5 for mac is most definitely a ‘C’ grade browser.

      Keep up the good work! :-)

    2. Andy – thanks! Great resource, I keep forgetting Yahoo’s already been down many paths with patterns, designs, and guidelines.

      Also, I just heard of another way to categorize the browsers: Visually Supported, Functionally Supported, and Not Supported. That’s a pretty good breakdown…

    3. Great article, I definitely need to pass this on. We have literally hundreds of projects going on, and there is no single ‘baseline’. One of the projects I recently worked on still supported AOL6.0. Wha??????

    4. I’ve recently written an executive summary at work related to browser support. I work for a large university and our user base is about 70K students/faculty/staff. From our logs we concluded to test IE6&7, Firefox2 (Win & Mac), and Safari 2.x. Almost no one uses IE5.xWin or Mac and almost no one uses Opera or Netscape. The challenge was in figuring out how to prevent styling in IE

    5. Hi, I’m having all kinds of issues with our new site rendering in IE 6.0.2800 particularly (SP1 of XP) and minor issues in IE 6.0.2900 (SP2).

      I’m wondering if you have access to any statistics showing out of IE6 users, who’s on which version?

      Kind regards, and thanks for the good article.

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