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User agent validity

Browser statistics
One common usage analysis data tool you can use to get a snapshot of your website users is the “user agent” string provided by web browsers. Generally speaking, the user agent will tell you what browser and operating system the user is running. It should also give the versions of each. There are, however, some validity concerns.

The first problem is that some browsers are equipped with extensions that allow the user to mask their true user agent. They may even do this in order to get better functionality on sites that erroneously exclude them because of the browser they use. The next problem is that your data will be skewed by search engine bots. To correct this, you will have to exclude any known bots from your data before doing any calculations.

Finally, it is important to note that browser usage is subject to change, sometimes even several times within the same day. Some users may use different browsers on different computers or may switch between browsers, depending on the task they are trying to accomplish. To get valid statistical results, you need to keep all of these factors in mind and adjust your findings accordingly. Nevertheless, user agent data can go a long way in determining your audience and if that audience is the one you intended to have.

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