A Stats Snapshot

Stephen Yagielowicz
I’ve discussed stats here before, as well as Google’s free analytics tool, which I’ve been using on a couple of my sites for a few weeks now, and I’d like to share a brief snapshot of some of the visitor data that I’ve been gathering and why it’s important to know.

For professional website designers, nothing is as important as understanding the usage parameters of your target audience. Chief among these parameters is the user’s choice of browser software. My latest stats show that 76.26 percent of visitors are using Internet Explorer, with 17.27 percent using Firefox, 5.04 percent opting for a Mozilla-compatible user agent and the remaining 1.44 percent using the Safari browser.

Java and JavaScript are important design tools, but design lore often decries its use on the grounds that many users do not have it enabled on their browsers, primarily as a security and anti-pop-up measure. My own stats, however, show that 96.40 percent of my visitors have Java-enabled browsers, with only 3.60 percent not capable of using the technology.

Screen resolution is another important factor impacting web design. While the fact of the matter is that many users (especially those with higher screen resolutions) will tend to surf without their browsers maximized to their full dimension, this number is hard to quantify, leaving us to rely on the surfer’s actual screen size. Accordingly, 51.08 percent of my users now have 1024x768 displays, with the remaining half composed of 800x600 users with16.55 percent of surfers; 11.51 percent surfing at 1280x1024; 5.04 percent at 1280x800; 3.60 percent of users at 1152x864; 2.88 percent visiting at 240x160 (mobile resolution!); 2.16 percent at 1280x768; 2.16 percent at 480x272 (PSP users!); with 1.44 percent at 1280x854; and 640x480 representing only 0.72 percent of visitors.

Clearly, displays are increasing in resolution, but color depth is a better indicator of the quality of imagery that these displays can render. As such, 84.17 percent of my visitors have 32-bit displays; the highest quality level. Surprisingly, the next highest percentage, 10.79 percent, is surfing with 16-bit displays. These are most likely laptop users with older screens. Only 4.32 percent of users are at the higher-quality (and what I thought to be the most popular) 24-bit color depth; with 0.72 percent using 8-bit displays; surfers likely using those 640x480 displays discussed above.

While knowing the browser type, screen resolution color depth and Java capability of target users is vitally important, knowing their operating system can also help during the testing process. As I expected, 91.37 percent of my visitors are using Windows; 5.04 percent are on “unknown” operating systems, 2.16 percent of them are using a Macintosh – illustrating the disparity between the numbers claimed by Mac fans and the actual volume of users hitting MY site. Finally, 1.44 percent of visitors use Linux.

Connection speed is an important factor, especially when considering web page and file download sizes, as well as overall load times. Thankfully, broadband Internet penetration is rising, as indicated by the 78.42 percent of my visitors using cable or DSL connections. 10.79 percent are still on dialup connections, with 7.19 percent on “corporate” lines and the remaining 3.60 percent using unknown connection means.

Last but by no means least (and quite surprising to me) is the list of most popular visitor languages as indicated by their browser settings. “Only” 78.42 percent of my visitors speak English, with the next most common language, Chinese (!), representing 2.88 percent of my (or should I say, my wife’s) visitors. Who’d have thought it? Portuguese-speaking Brazilians also represented 2.88 percent of visitors; Polish surfers, 2.16 percent. 2.23 percent had no language set. The remaining top languages included French and German, both at 2.16 percent; with Dutch speakers accounting for 1.44 percent and Italians making up 0.72 percent of visitors. Clearly, some work needs to be done on my language optimization, geo-targeting, marketing and billing programs in order to properly capitalize on this information.

As you can see, the more information that you have on your actual audience, the better; especially if it helps you to discover that the people coming to your site are not as representative of your target audience as you would like. Chinese? Chinese? WTF? I’ve got work to do…