Stats ⮞ Browser Trends

This discusses browser trends and resolution trends for designers who want to decide what to support.

Caution : browser stats are of limited use to designers. First, stats will vary from site to site, so it is only the stats for your sites which matter. Second, stats can be skewed by many factors, so the true numbers may be higher or lower than the numbers reported. Third, and most important, browser stats are really only useful to designers when deciding which browsers are so little used that they need no longer be supported: it may be entertaining to know, for example, how well Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are competing with Internet Explorer, but so long as the numbers are large enough that the browsers must be supported, the exact numbers are irrelevant to the design.

Browser Trends 

This discusses trends in the usage of the major families of browsers.


1% or more use each of the following: Gecko-based browsers (mainly Firefox); KHTML-based browsers (mainly Chrome, Opera, and Safari); Internet Explorer 6-11; and Edge. Close to 1% use mobile browsers, mainly Opera and WebKit-based browsers.


A good way to ensure that sites will work for as many users as possible is to (a) design sites to the HTML, CSS, DOM, and other standards, avoiding “bleeding edge” features of the stan­dards, (b) to test sites with common browsers that implement the standards well, then (c) to test sites with other browsers and to tweak the code to make sites work well enough for an­tique browsers still in common use.

Older versions of Internet Explorer — chiefly IE 5 and 6 — cause the biggest problems. The prob­lems can typically be overcome by adding minor CSS code changes, often within IE conditional comments to ensure that the changes are visi­ble only to those versions which need them.


As the Stats show, the number of people using a browser depends a lot on the site. The numbers on this page are, at best, guesses of “typical” users: in any case, what matters most isn’t the exact numbers, but rather which browsers are used enough to be supported. You should use the stats for your site, and remember that, if your stats indicate that few people use a certain browser, it may be that your site may not be working well with that browser, so that potential users are going elsewhere, to similar sites which do support the browsers your site doesn’t.

Gecko-Based Browsers (Camino, Firefox, Flock, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, etc.)

I suggest that ~11% typically use Gecko brow­sers. Use of the Gecko browsers is dropping slowly as users switch to Chrome.

Most people use recent versions of the Gecko browsers, but many still use old versions with security defects.

KHTML-Based Browsers (Chrome, Konqueror, Opera 15+, Safari, Vivaldi, etc.)

I suggest that ~64% typically use KHTML brow­sers, mostly Chrome and Safari, with Chrome holding a significant lead, and with Safari mainly being used by those with MacOS. The percentage of KHTML users is increasing slowly, mainly due to users who switch from Firefox and Internet Explorer. The percentage jumped a few percent when Opera switched over from its Presto browser engine to a KHTML browser engine in Opera 15.

Most people use recent versions of the KHTML browsers.

Many smartphones use Apple’s WebKit, which is KHTML-based.

Microsoft Edge & Internet Explorer

Roughly 25% use Microsoft browsers, with the percentage shrinking slowly as users switch to Chrome. About 6% use Edge, 15% use IE11, 1% use IE10, 1% IE9, and 1½% IE8, with the IE8-IE10 percentages dropping as users upgrade to Edge and IE11. Browsers older than IE6 may be considered extinct.

Many sites under-report Edge because the Edge userAgent string can be confused for Chrome or Safari.

Many people use very old versions of Internet Explorer. Since old versions comply more poorly with the standards, the old versions obstruct attempts by designers to fully exploit the standards.


The reported percentage of users varies a lot, largely because different sites attract different types of users. I suggest that under 1% use Opera browsers, though the percentage of users is difficult to assess because Opera keeps changing its use of the userAgent string, resulting in many modern Opera users being wrongly identified as Opera 9 users or Chrome or Safari users.

Many people use somewhat older versions of Opera.

Many cellphones use Opera browsers.

Many sites under-report Opera because the Opera userAgent string can be confused for Chrome or Safari.

Mobile Browsers

Few people use mobile browsers, e.g. with cellphones or tablet PCs, but the numbers are growing fairly quickly as phone technology improves. Site designers should seriously consider making selected sites friendly to these browsers, even for sites not made specifically for users of mobile browsers: this author does. Opera has the most popular mobile browser, but WebKit based browsers are becoming increasingly more popular.

It is becoming easier to make sites mobile-friendly: partly because mobile browsers are becoming much more capable, with the latest Opera and WekKit-based mobile browsers being comparable to desktop browsers; and partly because more mobile browsers support CSS 3 media queries, which makes it easier for sites to adapt to smaller display resolutions.

Resolution Trends 

This discusses trends in the resolutions of browser displays.


Resolutions vary a great deal. Most users have 1024×768 or higher, but a large minority have less.

It is important to note that (a) the display resolution says little about the size of the browser window, and (b) users can normally resize the browser window. Consequently no particular browser window size should be assumed.


A good way to ensure that sites will work for as many resolutions as possible is to design sites to be resolution-independ­ent, i.e. not to specify font sizes in absolute units (e.g. pixels), and not to specify widths in absolute units unless a width is that of a fixed-width object, e.g. a GIF, JPG, or PNG image.

Mobile devices create a special challenge. CSS 3 media queries may be used to force the use of CSS files which make pages automatically adapt to devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs.

Many modern browsers have zoom features which may be used, among other things, to resize pages which are designed for specific resolutions, in order to fit the entire width of the page within the browser window. When, however, a browser resizes images, image quality suffers, and therefore the user experience suffers. This makes it all the more important not to design sites for specific resolutions.


According to Net Applications’ Market Share, in Jul 2017 about 38% of users have resolutions of 1024×768 or more, 60% less than in 2010. The great difference is because, in 2017, about half of users were using smartphones or tablets, and many were using what must be deemed to be small laptops.

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