Are Macs that important!?

Recently we had a client come back to us with some concerns over the fact that their site didn’t display properly on a Mac. Although we obviously fixed the problem it did make me wonder whether we have our priorities right.


The issue of Mac’s comes up again and again for me as a web designer. Clients always seem remarkably concerned that their web site looks great on a Mac. This is often because their advertising agency has made some comment that the site doesn’t look perfect on their system. In my experience this is often more to do with the fact that the advertising agency didn’t win the web design contract than a sincere desire to see the web site project the brand in the best light.

It’s a numbers game

But should Mac’s really be considered that important. Let’s put this in perspective. 2% of visitors are using the Mac operating system. Although significant this is remarkably low when you compare it to the 5% that cannot use Javascript!

Confused priorities

The same clients who are so concerned about making their site look great on a Mac are also demanding Javascript reliant functions such as pop up windows, dynamic HTML menus and Javascript driven shopping carts.

Accessibility for all

I am not suggesting we should ignore the Mac operating system. What I am saying is that we need to concentrate as much (if not more) of our efforts on ensuring our web sites are accessible to larger groups such as those without Javascript. Web sites should be accessible to all not just the vocal minority.

  • Ed

    It is interesting to see from those stats
    http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2004/May/os.php
    how low down Windows ME is! More people use Windows 95 than ME!

  • I would like to point out however, that global statistics generally don’t mean a thing to me when it comes to developing a site. The stats you link to are FAR to broad for and kind of useful interpretation, in my opinion. Narrow it down a bit (err, a lot).
    Doing a proper audience analysis and a monitor of a particular domain’s statistics should give you a much more clear idea of what browser/platform you need to target.
    Although (and I can hear you nodding your head on this one), web standards does mean having the availability of nearly any os/browser combination.
    Your own audience for example, since I would venture to guess that a lot of web designers come here, that your Mac OS ratio is far higher than the general network stat you point out.
    Cheers!

  • I don’t disagree with a word you said. In fact in my last paragraph says pretty much the samething about accessibility for all. The problem is that mac users are a pain in the ass and like to stamp their feet alot. I believe it is my duty to slap them about a bit from time to time and tell them to get a grip. The mac is not the centre of the universe ;)

  • Oh not this Mac / Windows rant again.
    My own academic sites receive about 1.8 million visitors a month, and Mac users make up about 4% of my users (there’s a Mac bias within academia). So 95% of my users are on Win32 with IE something or other, with a very few on firefox.
    Yet we develop on Macs and ensure that our sites work on the most common Mac browsers. Why? Well if a site is designed to be properly standards compliant (Paul’s favourite rant) it should work on any decent modern browser, whatever platform its on. Even 4% of my visitors is a substantial number of users and can’t be ignored.
    I don’t care about the Mac / PC argument. I just want my sites to be available to the widest audience possible. Paul’s company seem to have helped us make a site which works well in every browser and on every platform, so we’re quite happy.
    I think its wrong to dismiss Mac users as being a minority audience, if websites are designed properly, they should work on just about anything.

  • Hi Jonathan,
    can I ask what percentage of your users access your site using IE 5.5 for windows? My guess is that it is a lot higher than Mac users. Its a non compliant browser that still needs supporting so how do you test on that if you work with Macs? Do you have a PC environment for testing?

  • I use a mac where I work to create websites and magazines however I was trainned up on a pc to use a mac and noticably there are some differences in the way that the two view css and other elements when they are previewed. The main difference is in the fact that the type of browser they are viewed in is different. But I have to say that I believe the vast majority of users and potential clients are from the home and are pc and internet explorer based.
    Personally I test the same page I have made on the pc on a mac and vise versa, however as I am new to the web design industry I still have a lot to learn but in my opinion sure it is important that a website can be viewed by as many visiters on the mac as on the pc however as technology evolves and more browser versions are without a doubt going to be developed to keep up with the constantly changing medium of the internet then you can never really make a site that will always be accessable to every user no matter what the operating system until there is one browser type that is universally used so the arguement of pc / mac accesable sites will always be a problem as a client may want certain elements in there site that can not be viewed on a mac based internet browser.

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