Web Browser Optimisation – The Most Expensive Second Your Business Ever Wasted

Web Browser Optimisation – The Most Expensive Second Your Business Ever Wasted

So how do people access our websites? Web browsers. Knowing the preferred browser of your target market should affect the web browser optimisation of your site. Take Mozilla’s Firefox for example, it’s probably the fastest overall browser yet Google’s Chrome bests Firefox when it comes to loading HTML5. Ultimately, developing your site in HTML5 to appeal to a Chrome user base will make a minuscule difference in load time, perhaps a second, maybe less… Though the reality is that today’s data churning consumers are all about speed, the research on internet traffic estimates that a single second of delay in page load time can result in a 7% loss of conversion; a three second delay will cause a 40% user drop-off rate. In the U.S.A. this is estimated to cost businesses $500 billion annually.

How does this information relate to the average UK business? Well in 2015, $2.2 trillion of global in-store sales were influenced by internet research (64%). In 2015, online retail sales in the UK equated to £52.25 billion of this with an average shopper spending £1,174.

Browsers at the Dawn of the Internet as We Know It

In a simpler time, the mid 90’s, Netscape Navigator accounted for 90% of user traffic, before eventually being replaced by Internet Explorer (IE) who held a 96% market share in 1998. During this time the concept of browser optimisation wasn’t one of significance to most. Now the tides have turned again. Microsoft, between Edge and all IE versions, only holds 14.52% of the market share. Though one request we hear all too often is for sites to cater for IE, especially IE8; even though support for IE 8, 9 and 10 has ceased. The below tables demonstrate the latest usage of popular desktop and mobile browsers.

Desktop browser usage global statistics March 2015-2016

BrowserMarket Share March ’16Change from previous year
IE (all)12.54%-5.34%

Mobile browser usage global statistics March 2015-2016

BrowserMarket Share March ’16Change from previous year
UC Browser19.60%-0.50%
Opera Mini/Mobile10.79%+0.05%

The Modern Browser Market

Unsurprisingly Chrome has dominated the desktop browser space with a majority share holding of 56.51%, with almost all other browsers, except Opera and others, losing some of their footing. Mobile is a different story with similar trends, though this time Opera and Samsung are the only climbers with all other browsers decreasing their share. Chrome remains the domineering force in this space with 33.80%. As I’m sure the vast majority of you aren’t familiar with UC Browser, don’t worry. It’s hugely popular in India, though has reasons to be popular globally as it allows for caching of video to watch offline later and it also boasts advanced ad-blocking functions. Essentially it sounds like a browser that has been designed with users streaming illegal online video content in mind.

So what does this mean for your websites? For most of us this means we should code them with HTML5 to compliment Chrome’s strengths. The internet can change rapidly, their is no denying this; though current trends have Chrome still climbing with no sign of a major upset in the balance of power being on the horizon. Please be aware these statistics wont be true for everyone, there are a number of tools available to find out what browsers your customers are using. These are relatively accessible for non-techy people, though if you have any doubts, consult your digital agency or ask us for help. We personally undertake browser testing across the majority of browsers, though we do pay special attention to Chrome given it’s significance within the industry.

Also keep an eye on Samsung’s presence in the mobile browser space, whilst the 4.12% increase in market share might not seem drastic, to Samsung, this represents a 292.20% growth in the browser’s usage statistics over the space of 12 months. Whilst this is a positive shift within the market, this does coincide with the release of the new range of S7 smartphones. As these stats are based on usage not the number of unique devices, it stands to reason that when the intrinsic value of the new range wears off, the usage statistics will plateau or indeed return back to the browsers more nominal statistics.

So this is where the market currently stands, Google continues to dominate and the much loathed IE is in decline. Whilst optimising your website for a certain browser is just one of many changes you can make, I hope this article has given you some awareness of how every second counts and a few moments of considering browsers can have a profound affect on your conversion rates.

Over the course of this week I will be playing with the new browser Vivaldi which is pegged to be a future player due to its high level of user customisation and integrations. Check back next week for my thoughts or subscribe to our mailing list and have the latest Purr blog sent to your email every Friday. Got a suggestion for a blog post, or got a question you want answered, drop me an email to stephencollins@purrdigital.com.

Stephen Collins