I note with interest that Microsoft have been forced to notify all of their Windows users across Europe that there are other web browsers they can use as an alternative to the ubiquitous Internet Explorer. They will do this by popping up a window to offer users the choice of a bunch of different browsers to install.
I’m sure that most users will continue to use IE or their favourite other browser, and that in notifying them of the choice nobody is expecting a mass move away from IE, but many users will be made aware of alternatives that they didn’t previously know existed. Let’s face it, there are many browsers around, all free, all easy to install, and most with the same, or similar, functionality and add-ons, and I would expect a decent number of people to at least try out a few of these browsers. Whether they stay with them or not is another matter, but they will try them out.
So, if you operate a website or blog, what might this mean to you? Well, at the moment around 70%-80% of your website traffic is probably from IE users, but have you tried looking at your website in any of the other browsers? I come across so many sites that don’t work as they should in these ‘alternative’ browsers, so if your site is one of these you could be impacting 20%-30% of your website visitors – and this is likely to increase as more users are encouraged to try out different browsers.
I don’t want to get into a discussion about which browser is best. I use Mozilla Firefox mostly, but IE often and Safari and Google Chrome occasionally. I am a PC user, rather than Apple, and am a web developer, and so it is important for me to try my sites out to make sure they work on different browsers. Typical website visitors probably do not move browsers so frequently. As browsers are easy to install I recommend that you try out a couple of alternatives and then stick with, and get used to, what looks best to you.
If you are a website owner, you really do need to check for yourself that all pages in your site work ok in at least the top 2 or 3 browsers that bring visitors to your site. If your site worked ok a couple of years ago it might not still work ok today! If you find problems then they should be easy for you or your website developer to resolve. Remember – all of the time and money you spend on improving your website, on marketing it, and on improving its Search Engine effectiveness, may be wasted on 20%-30% of your website visitors. Improving your cross-browser support may be the best website investment you can make right now. Take a look at your website stats / Google Analytics reports to see how many of your site visitors don’t currently use IE.