knowing your user base

Original post – 09.24.2007

Designing web sites is tricky business in today’s market. Knowing your user base is a key to developing optimal designs that will render correctly in your user’s browser. The market is continuing to change as users are buying better resolution flat screens and moving away from the dominant IE browser as their only choice for surfing the web.

Browser usage across the Web is continuing to change and overall the stats are showing around 58.5 percent of users viewing web sites using Internet Explorer top three versions, around 34.5% of sites using Firefox and the remaining 7% utilizing Mozilla, Safari, and Opera. Firefox usage continues to climb as well as adoption of IE version 7 based upon mid 2007 figures. In order to build your web site to be used across these browser platforms, there is a certain amount of care and testing that needs to be done to optimize your site for each and every visit. There is a great article posted last week on how to develop Web sites for both Internet Explorer and Firefox by Info Week.

The tide is turning for optimal screen design and W3schools.com reports that the latest trend is optimizing web sites for a high display resolution. The trend is moving away from the 20% user base using 800×600 screen resolutions. As of January 2007, only 14% of web users are using a 800X600 screen resolution size and the trend is more usage of 1024×768 resolution and higher, which is at about 80%. If your site is not optimized to 1024×768 then you are losing valuable real estate with unused space on your web site.

Another thing is Flash usage on the Web. Flash player is enabled by more than 99% of users that are on the Web. One thing to keep in mind is the version of flash that your user might have. Newer versions of flash player allow streaming video and some of the cool technology that you see being utilized using video in flash. To get the latest breakdown of the usage of flash versions that users have, access Adobe’s statistic site for a breakdown.

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