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Browser statistics and Internet Explorer 6 usage

Posted on by Clive Walker in News Web Design

I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.

Six months ago, I collated browser usage statistics for a personal website and reported that Internet Explorer 6 hangs on. I have repeated the exercise for the six months ending 10th December 2008 and here’s my update. The overall summary is that IE6 usage is still quite high and is only showing a slow decline.

Firstly, the website in question gets about 5000 unique visitors per month so I am not claiming that these figures are in any way representative of general usage. However, I am using the figures to try and assess when I can start adding some advanced CSS methods to this [and other] websites.

Note: All the figures were obtained using Google Analytics.

Overall, as expected, Internet Explorer is the most popular browser with 79.5% [a slight decline compared with six months ago], followed by Firefox with 13.6% [a small increase], and then Safari with nearly 5%. Google Chrome usage is not significant yet but that’s unsurprising because it was only released in the middle of my six-month period.

Pie chart showing browser version usage

For Internet Explorer versions, the IE6 usage shows a decrease from 38.8% last time to 32.1% now. IE7 usage has increased from 61% to 67.6% [almost the same as the decline in IE6].

Pie chart showing IE6 and IE7 usage

These figures show that the decline in IE6 usage is still slow. At this rate it will be another two or three years before IE6 usage drops to near zero! It’s all rather depressing considering that IE6 was released in 2001.

Perhaps the imminent release of Internet Explorer 8 will persuade a few IE6 users to jump straight to the new version? I hope that corporate IT departments who remain on IE6 do the same thing.

Please… let’s put IE6 to rest.

Note: The figures for the last few weeks since December 10th show that IE6 usage has now dipped below 30%.

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  • 21 Jan 2009 15:28:07

    Amen! It is my biggest headache as a designer to have to accommodate the clumsy and horrible IE6. It’s a shame that it’s still used so significantly. W3’s statistics show that just over 19% of web browsers are still on IE6 as of December 2008. Eeek!

  • 25 Feb 2009 22:39:42

    Disappointingly, our corporate site has received almost the same stats. We also have 32% (of IE users) still clinging on to IE6. Overall we’re getting around 250,000 unique visitors a month, so it’s a fairly accurate picture. I agree with the author, once IE 8 is given the hard push there might be a rapid decline in usage, but until then we’ll have to resort to all manner of hacks.

  • 14 Aug 2009 13:38:56

    W3Schools Browser Stats shows 14.4% now. Looks like IE6 is shedding at about 0.5% per month. Not fast enough! But at least we’re gettin’ there now.

    As for me, I just designed a site that renders fine in every browser except IE6 and I’m perfectly content NOT spending weeks mangling my code to compensate for IE6 flaws. I’ll wait it out.

  • 09 Sep 2009 17:36:20

    Ummm, what is the point in quoting browser statistics from W3Schools Browser Stats?! You do realise that those are just figures from their website don’t you? Now what kind of visitor do you think the W3C website will attract?

    Real world IE6 visitor percentages will be higher, around 20% if not more. I run a travel website in the UK and see 20% IE6 usage now. Down from 30% this time last year.

  • 11 Jan 2010 16:29:47

    Looks like IE6 is going to die soon, maybe by beginning of 2011, it’s already on 10% market share now.

    Now that makes me happy :)

  • 19 Jan 2010 13:30:17

    Why can’t it just die?
    Reminds me of Brucie Willis in “Die Hard”.
    By the way did you hear about background-no repeat problem in IE8. Apparently it ignores it.
    I think Microsoft should stop making anything at once. The only reason we use their products is because there is no alternative.

  • 04 Aug 2010 06:03:11

    I don’t trust the stats, I bet they are lower. Webmasters test sites with IE6 just to see if it breaks or not causing non-user hits from IE6.

  • 05 Aug 2010 08:44:03

    @Geoff: There might be some of that but I test my sites with Adobe Browser Lab and locally and I am not so sure that they will be counted in the stats. It might depend on the stats package used though.

  • 19 Jul 2011 12:40:49

    Hopefully, this dinosaur will finally die out and we can concentrate more on content instead of catering for a 10 year old web browser that is just a conduit for malware. The only IE I have tested my site with is IE 8.0 & IE 9.0. Internet Explorer 9.0 is just about OK rendering modern CSS, but IE 8.0 is still lacking.

  • 17 Aug 2011 06:53:19

    My opinion on this matter is simple.

    Don’t spend time designing for Internet Explorer (any version).

    1. Design in google chrome, then firefox. then if required make sure that users of explorer can still use the site… don’t spend time making the site look good in explorer.

    2. insert a element that spans the entire page width across the top, style it so that it is hard to miss, and the text inside will make the user aware of the fact they are using a web browser that will not provide them with the best experience on the web. then suggest chrome and firefox as the better options.

    This does three things for us web designers, your website, and yourself :

    1. it reduces the time you need to spend on making your style sheets work in internet explorer

    2. lets users know why the website looks different on their internet explorer window than it does on their android or iphone browser.

    3. make users aware of the fact that using a freely available browser like google chrome will enhance their online web browsing experience.

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