Just Browsing

How do you like to browse? Browse the internet, that is.

So many of us simply use whichever browser came pre-installed on our computers—and if you’re using a desktop PC, chances are that browser is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. If you click on a big blue ‘e’ to get to the internet from your computer, then you can count yourself among the Internet Explorer users across the country. 

But don’t get too comfortable there, Internet Explorer user! According to StatsCounter Global Stats, Internet Explorer usage is on the decline, in Canada and around the world. This tidbit of information prompted me to do a bit of digging into the usage stats of two of our BNC products, CataList and SalesData, to see how our browser usage rates compare.

Our product users—or their corporate networks—still tend heavily toward maintaining Internet Explorer. There are some logical reasons for this. It does take a small investment in time to learn how to use a new browser, and IT staff time may be needed to install new browsers if employees do not have permission to download and install programs on their own.

So why is all this important?

  • At minimum, you need to know which browser you are using. If you report a problem you are experiencing on a website, this one of the first questions you are going to be asked, and it’s often critical to resolving the problem.
  • Internet Explorer is the least standards-compliant of all the rendering engines, though that is changing with the release of IE 9 and IE 10. You may not even realize you’re missing advanced features on websites you visit, as many websites design for graceful degradation.
  • As more tools move online, and companies make greater use of SaaS applications, browser choice is going to become a critical factor in the efficiency of staff using web-based tools, and web security issues are going to be a primary operational concern.
  • Extensive browser testing and developing code for older browsers is time consuming and expensive. Needing to support older browsers adds and time and cost to website feature releases.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and your corporate network allow it), is to download Chrome or Firefox (or if you really love IE, at least make sure you’re using one of the newest versions), and take one of the modern browsers for a test-drive. Compare a few of your favourite sites in the new browser and your old browser. You just might find a new favourite way to browse.