Global Internet Stats & Why They Matter

Written by Don Spidell

In 1999 Bill Gates said, “’Know your numbers’ is a fundamental precept of business.” This applies not only to revenue, profit margins, and valuation, but to the myriad of metrics you can tap into in our digital world. If your business lives online, there are a few important sources of data to pay attention to that can help you stay ahead in a constantly changing digital landscape.

The first area to look at is global internet statistics, which you can find here and here. These stats include platform usage (desktop, mobile, tablet, and console), browser usage, screen resolution, operating system, and many others. Looking at these stats over time shows how technology is trending. For example, we see that mobile device usage is quickly catching up to desktop usage and even surpasses it for some use cases, such as searching. Another trend is that Internet Explorer has fallen out of favor with users and Chrome is the number one browser.

Insights gathered from global internet stats can help businesses decide which direction to go with their online technology. Years ago we saw that mobile was on the rise, so we created mobile-friendly versions of our digital publications. These days responsive websites are all the rage because of the large amount of different screen sizes and aspect ratios that need to be supported. Responsive sites allow one version of the site to look nice on a wide variety of screens.

Twenty years ago, 66% of internet traffic came from the US. Now it’s around 10%. This information shows that visitors from all over the globe are trying to get to sites hosted in the US. It is vital for a business to build their online presence so that it is a fast and responsive experience for not only US visitors, but for visitors abroad. Optimizing the size of web assets or using a global content delivery network can make websites fast for visitors all over the world.

Global internet trends can show the general path that technology is on and can provide general guidance on where to concentrate your online efforts, it’s not enough to take very specific action on. Your business can gather these same metrics – platform, screen size, operating system, browser version – using your choice of analytics tools such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics. You may find that your stats trend slightly differently than the global ones. Perhaps your main audience is medium to large businesses. They usually lag behind a bit on browser version and operating system version. Perhaps the mobile usage will be different too.

Using global internet stats and private analytics, businesses can take specific action regarding allocation of development resources, direction to take development in, and platforms to target next. Keying in on browser version usage can help a company decide when to stop supporting older browsers. This can make code simpler, reduce support cases, and allow development to move faster on building new things.

The information is out there that businesses need to decide their future path regarding technology. Knowing your numbers regarding internet usage statistics and trends is key in getting your business on solid footing for the future.