At the beginning of every semester I monitor the statistics generated by a program called Woopra. Woopra is a java-script based analytics system, similar to Google Analytics to give you great stats about your website and users. Woopra keeps track of where users are on your site at any given time as well as giving us data about what browser and platform people are using.
It's a big-brother-like tool that enables us to better troubleshoot student technical difficulties. Often times students don't know exactly what page they went to to generate an issue or environment specific information like browser / OS. Last year I wrote about how I noticed trends in IE6 and had emails sent out only to see compliance increase the next week to acceptable levels. Here's some of the stats we've been able to gather from Jan 4th through Jan 18th, what I consider the current active semester.
97.75% are accessing from the U.S. and 54.54% are accessing from University Park / State College Area
The Duration of each user's session has a wide range of values but 95% of our students access the site for 0 to 30 minutes in a given session. This suggests to me that learners on the go are more inclined to access a course, read through 1 or 2 lessons of instruction and then navigate elsewhere. It would be interesting to drill down and see the length of a random sampling of student's time on the site.
75.43% of students access via links from Angel, while 15.56% access it directly via the URL or bookmark. Going back over the Fall and current Spring semester this data doesn't change much with 76.58% accessing the site directly from Angel and 20.13% through direct access.
51.03% are using Firefox 3+ while IE 7/8 has 28.52% of our market. Safari 3/4 has 12.38% of our users while (thankfully!) IE 6.0 only has captured 1.36%. This is very good news because IE 6.0 is fundamentally flawed when it comes to a lot of the java-script and CSS rendering that we do in our courses, so much so that it is documented that we don't support it. Another interesting nugget is that of the iPhone OS penetration on our systems: 0.35%. Once again, Woopra's shown exactly why we don't pay specific attention to mobile browsers at this time.
OS Stats are very interesting as well because in 2010, Windows XP still is the most used OS by our students with 34.51%. Vista is close behind with 29.86% and Apple OS X has 25.13% usage. Linux based OS are almost unheard of to our users and the new Windows 7 has almost 10% share.
Screen resolution has a lot to say about the type of device we're being accessed on. 1280x800 and 1440x900 are both common laptop resolutions that have 49.75% of our audience. After that is a lot of wide and standard dimension monitor settings as well as some obscure laptop ones. We're also seeing that approximately 75% of our users view us on a wide-screen, 16x9 or 16x10 based resolution.
I'll be bringing some more analysis of our user base over the rest of the year from time to time but I was even surprised by some of the findings in this data. It's really good to see that most people are using wide-screen displays and that the majority are using compliant browsers, but I didn't expect iPhone penetration to be so low. Possibly in the future it will trend upward and I'll have reason to support mobile platforms but for the time being (and at least the next year) I don't see a reason to specifically support them. Most mobile platforms now can render java-script / CSS to the same quality as traditional desktop browsers so why build a special way of viewing on these devices (at this time)? Please feel free to comment on my findings and refute / question some of my conclusions.