How to Use the Browser & OS Reports in Google Analytics, Plus 15 Reasons Why

The Technology reports in Google Analytics contain a whole host of fantastic data. It is an essential place to look when you’re thinking about making changes to your site that may work differently in various browsers, operating systems, and screen sizes – it shows so much more than just browsers!

There are six main sections to the Browser & OS report and these also come with extra information that you can access by clicking through or adding as a secondary dimension:

  • Browser (extra: Browser version)
  • Operating System (click through for Operating System version)
  • Screen Resolution
  • Screen Colors
  • Flash Version
  • Extra: Java Support (found under Other and used to see which version of Java is installed – nothing to do with JavaScript)

They are all relatively straightforward in what they show; the key is in using them to help you make the best decisions.

So when and why might you use them?

  • Building a new site – understanding what technology to build for.
  • Making decisions about layout.
  • Proving why you need a responsive design – see how many different Screen Resolutions there are.
  • Testing new (or existing) content and functionality.
  • Testing on newly released devices/software.
  • Choosing functionality to use.
  • Comparing conversion rates to see if there are any issues with platforms.
  • Profiling valuable users to ensure you can get more users like them.
  • Profiling users who are not valuable, in order to turn them intovaluable users.
  • Reviewing reporting issues (such as iOS6 search traffic being reported as direct).
  • Proving to developers why they still have to build sites that work in old Internet Explorer versions.
  • Identifying drops in traffic / conversions.
  • Understanding why mobile websites are so valuable (in addition to the Mobile reports).
  • Seeing how different users interact and what you can do to make all tech successful.
  • Deciding what platforms to develop apps for – Android usage is on the rise.

Make sure you don’t neglect the Goal and Ecommerce reports that are available through the links above the graph. These are vital for spotting trends and problems, for example, a quick look in this account shows that Android has a much lower conversion rate than others and that Internet Explorer is performing the best:

Google Analytics Ecommerce Data for Browsers

Immediately you can look to gain more conversions by investigating and resolving any issues on Android and think about how to get more of those high converting Internet Explorer users.

Another way to look at it is using the pie chart functionality which can show you the percentage of revenue being generated from each dimension you’re reviewing, like so:

Google Analytics Revenue Pie Chart by Browser

This can help you decide what’s important to you and what needs to be pushed.

Something to always remember is that all data needs context and comparison! Don’t make decisions off one data set or graph alone. Always find the full story and make sure you understand the bigger picture before you make any decisions.

As a final note on these reports, often you may just want a snapshot of the most common tech used to access your website. For this I use a handy Dashboard, which you can apply by signing into Google Analytics and clicking this link: Google Analytics Technology Dashboard.

Just for the record and in case you’re wondering, in the Mobile Traffic widget, mobile includes tablets. The pie chart still shows yes or no, rather than being broken down, as the Mobile report now is, but click through and you’ll see the data for tablets too.

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