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Archive for May 18th, 2007

Stop referring to the W3Schools browser usage stats

Friday, May 18th, 2007

It seems like more and more people lately have been linking to the W3Schools browser statistics page mistakenly thinking that those statistics are supposed to represent the Web as a whole.

Stop it.

The W3Schools browser statistics page only gathers data from the W3Schools server logs, which means it only counts W3Schools users. Most people who go to W3Schools are web developers (usually of the amateur-to-moderate range). Web developers are well-known to have dramatically lower Internet Explorer usage than average people. Just take a look at Web Devout’s visitor statistics, which currently show Firefox ahead of Internet Explorer by 15 percentage points.

This is not average. Firefox doesn’t have around 50% market share. It doesn’t have around 33% market share. It doesn’t even have 20% market share yet, by most accounts.

Most major web analytics companies agree that Firefox usage right now is right around 15%, Internet Explorer usage is around 80%, Safari usage is around 5%, Opera is below 1%, and everything else is smaller. Trend-wise, Firefox usage is generally reported to be increasing at a quickening pace, Internet Explorer usage is shrinking at a quickening pace, Safari usage seems to stay proportional to overall Mac usage (likely due in large to the fact that it’s the default browser on the Mac, the same reason Internet Explorer is so widely used on Windows), and Opera usage isn’t changing much. The Wikipedia article organizes the various groups’ data pretty well.

The W3Schools browser statistics page shows drastically different results than this, since the measured audience is so far from average. The page even says this below the figures:

W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use Internet Explorer, since it comes preinstalled with Windows. Most do not seek out other browsers.

These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is used by at least 80% of the users.

There also seems to be a strong misconception that W3Schools is somehow related to the W3C. It is not. W3Schools is a completely different group from the W3C with a completely different purpose and no significant affiliations. In fact, W3Schools has a large amount of information which directly conflicts with the standards. Their webpages follow lots of bad practices including table elements for design layout purposes and other presentational markup, serious misuse of XHTML, and the use of nonstandard elements like embed. W3Schools should not be considered an expert source on web standards.