Basing Your Compatibility Matrix on a Press Release, Redux

I’ve said it’s dangerous to base your Web browser compatibility testing matrix on a press release.

But this story might have some use to you:

Google’s Chrome edged past Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) last week to become the world’s most widely used browser, according to data from an Irish metric firm.

Chrome’s average usage share for the week of May 14-20 was 32.8%, said StatCounter, an analytics company that tracks browser and operating system trends. For the same week, IE’s share was 31.9%.

If you read the whole story and not just the headline, you’ll find that this metrics-providing firm used some data modeling to conclude as it did, and that other firms with other ideas about data models continue to come up with different results.

However, you can learn something from this:

  • It’s important to continually re-analyze your assumptions.
    If you thought it was important to test a browser last year, you might need to change your Web testing to accommodate the changing realities. I acknowledge this so much that I’m no longer mentioning testing in Netscape or AOL Explorer even though I still have those browsers installed in the lab.
  • Just because it’s a cool browser doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test in it. Or, more to the point, because it’s an IE and Firefox world in the popular culture consumer mindset world (in the popular culture, the world runs Safari. Inspect every television program, commercial, or print advertisement showing a Web page, and 97% of the time, you’ll see the Safari browser window around it, or I’m not a guy with an English degree just making statistics up). More to the point, it’s important to remember that sometimes you do need to test using the things your designers and developers think is cool. They’re not always wrong, just mostly.

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