With the growing number of web browsers and mobile devices being used to access content on the internet, it has become increasingly important for organizations to solidify a browser/device support policy. Internally, this type of policy can help with the development and testing of new features and pages by focusing time, effort, and resources on a select set of browsers and devices. Externally, users will have a clear understanding of expected functionality and the adjustments they can make to ensure the best experience possible when using the site.
With approximately 2.7 million subscribers and hundreds of thousands of unique visitors a day all using their preferred browsers and devices to access our site, Ancestry needed to define where our teams should focus and prioritize their time. To accomplish this, a committee of development, product, and QA representatives was organized and tasked to develop a browser support policy that accurately reflected the latest industry standards, as well as our particular users’ preferences.
As a result, the following tier system is based not only on the latest global web browser and mobile device usage statistics, but also specific analytics and percentages for our own unique users.
Tier 1 – Both Functionality and Visual Design
Browsers accounting for at least 10% or more of unique visitors for two consecutive months will be fully supported. This includes basic functionality as well as proper visual design behavior. These browsers will be tested during regular regression and when pages are changed. All bugs will also be triaged and fixed in the indicated timeframe. Browsers in this category will continue to be fully supported until they account for less than 10% of visitors for two consecutive months. Those browsers will then receive Tier 2 support (until/unless their usage drops below 5% for two consecutive months).
Tier 2 – Functionality
Browsers accounting for 5-10% of unique visitors will receive Tier 2 support. This means visual elements on the site need not appear perfectly, but all features must be functional. Basic testing is required, and major bugs will be triaged and fixed in the indicated timeframe. A browser whose traffic falls below 5% for two consecutive months will receive Tier 3 support.
Tier 3 – No Support
Browsers accounting for less than 5% of unique visitors in two consecutive months will not be individually supported. This group will be separated into two groups: uncommon browsers, and out of date browsers. Since the majority of uncommon browsers tend to follow web standards, they will generally receive an adequate experience on Ancestry.com and therefore shouldn’t be prompted to download a supported browser. Visitors using out of date browsers who can upgrade to a supported browser, however, should be prompted to do so.
As for mobile devices, we have designed a majority of our pages to be responsive to the width of the browser. Pages that have been converted receive Tier 1 support, with all other pages receiving Tier 2 support.
The hope is that with this policy in place, it will save time and effort internally, while providing customers and users with the best experience possible on the browsers and devices they use the most.
About Jeff Lord
Jeff Lord has been with Ancestry.com for 14 years, and currently serves as the Director of Front-End Development. He lives in Lindon, Utah with his beautiful wife and 3 kids.