The way in which we think about browsers and devices is hugely outdated.
The way in which these are discussed in CRO is almost as an inconvenience more than an opportunity.
"Let's put Chrome in and forget about Internet Explorer. Maybe we include Safari because of iOS, and Android too, but Firefox doesn't matter"
I'm sure we've all had conversations like this.
Sometimes, we arrive at these conclusions based on a brief look at Google Analytics when you start optimising a website, probably 3 years ago, and never look back at it again.
The truth is though, Google Analytics is hugely lacking and a thorough study of user agents reveals much more than you'd realise.
We did the work…
A study of a single experiment revealed a wealth of browsers we'd never thought about before:
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Android Browser, Mobile Safari, Samsung Browser, Instagram, Facebook, GSA, WebKit, Puffin, Silk, Chrome WebView, Waterfox, IceDragon, Vivaldi, MIUI Browser, Maxthon, UCBrowser, Oculus Browser, Avast Secure Browser, AVG Secure Browser, MetaSr, Tesla, Opera Mini, Electron, WeChat, WeChat(Win) Desktop…
But why so many? What on earth are Waterfox and Icedragon? And did I just read Oculus? Yes, you did.
What are Webviews?
Tech companies are greedy.
They don't want to hand you off to other apps, they want to keep you in their app for as long as possible, and control your experience through a web browser they own - potentially for nefarious reasons, although I'm sure they'd argue it's all about "providing the best possible user experience".
When you are in the Instagram app and you click through a link, you're taken to a website but you don't actually leave Instagram.
You enter what's called a Webview - a portable version of (probably) Chrome that they have easily embedded into their app.
That way, you stay in their control, and if you hit back you're straight back into Instagram.
Facebook, Slack and various other apps behave exactly the same way.
We're constantly looking to know more about our users.
So, when they tell us they're coming from Slack, this means someone's probably sharing links around at work.
Context. If someone's browsing from Instagram, they're probably clicking through a social ad. If it's Twitter, maybe someone shared a link tweeting about you.
Understanding the motive behind people getting to your website is the first step towards personalisation.
You don't need to know anything more about them, but in the same way that we personalise in the first second based off which campaigns they come from (right?!), we can personalise based on the knowledge that they've come from Slack or Instagram.
If users are on browsers supplied by their antivirus (Avast, AVG, etc.) or using browsers which are security-conscious ports of common browsers like Chrome or Firefox, this tells you a lot about what's playing on the mind of your users.
They care about their data and are at least somewhat worried about it.
In that case, what you ask them and how you reassure them are probably more important than your average user.
We caught users browsing from their Tesla
Tesla cars are cool. But being the nerdy guy that I am, I find it even more cool that we can catch users browsing our websites from their Tesla.
If you're selling cinema tickets, what does this device tell you about their browsing intention?
They're probably already on the way, and someone's buying some tickets in the car either at the start of the journey or whilst they're en route.
In this situation, they probably don't need selling on the plethora of options available - they need a simple, quick purchase.
And if they can afford a Tesla, they might be able to afford VIP seating 😉
If it's a restaurant website, or you're selling train tickets, or even a retail store with a physical presence - knowing someone is browsing from their car is hugely valuable data.
It at least speaks to possible intention, and you're probably right more often than wrong.
OMG, VR? WTF
Yep, we found the Oculus. If someone's using a VR headset, they're already tech-forward and into immersive experiences.
So, if you're a fashion brand, my mind races to think of the highly-visual and engaging experiences you could plunge users into - swiping through outfits, picking apart the bits they like and throwing it into a basket.
Walking around a superstore - the possibilities are endless and having that extra dimension or two to play with is hugely interesting (your perspective, and theirs).
1. Take device and browser detection more seriously. It's not just Chrome or Safari, it's Tesla and Oculus.
2. Build engaging experiences, get famous.
3. Win customers.