Viewer Behavior Differences Mobile vs Desktop

It’s no exaggeration to say that mobile internet usage has exploded over the past five years. With the advent of smartphones, users have changed the way they interact online. A recent report published by investment firm KPCB says that in 2008, mobile devices accounted for less than one percent of overall internet traffic. As of May 2013, they account for fifteen percent.

Here’s another way to look at it… In 2012, the world’s mobile internet traffic was twelve times the amount of all combined internet traffic in 2000. This is information that webmasters can’t afford to ignore, mainly because mobile internet users behave differently from PC users. If you want to succeed online, then a mobile-friendly web presence is a must.


Mobile User Point #1: Touch vs. Click

While it’s relatively easy to navigate a website using a mouse and a computer monitor, it’s not always so straightforward with a small-screened mobile device. Most everyone who has used a touchscreen mobile device has accidentally touched or typed something they didn’t mean to. A mobile website should be easily navigable with large navigation buttons and a simple layout. You need to use every bit of precious screen space in the smartest way possible.


Mobile User Point #2: The “Always On” Mentality

Mobile devices have become powerful tools for quickly accessing and retrieving data. Mobile users have an “always on” mentality, meaning that they expect access to data at any given time. This changes the way advertisers operate, and also brings about the need for webmasters to deliver a rich online experience “on-demand.” For one thing, a fast-loading, easily navigable mobile website is a must. It’s also a good idea to give mobile viewers the ability to access the full desktop site if they prefer.


Mobile User Point #3: Apps, Apps and More Apps

Mobile apps are very popular right now since they allow users to easily and quickly access information and services. A 2012 report published by Accenture shows that 71% of mobile users downloaded one or more apps to their mobile devices. If your website generates sales, then apps could play an important part in your overall mobile marketing strategy.

If your website is media-rich, then you’ll be interested to know that the average mobile user spends 82% of mobile media time using apps, according to Smart Insights and Comscore. Take the time to find out what percentage of your visitors access your website via mobile device, and what platform they use (Apple or Android). A useful app can go a long way towards promoting your website.


Mobile User Point #4: Accessing Email

A 2013 study done by Experian shows that mobile users spend 23% of their mobile browser time checking email. Creating mobile-optimized email is just as important as a mobile-optimized website, especially if you send regular email communications to your subscribers. Email marketing firm Emma offers five tips for creating the perfect mobile optimized e-mail:

  1. Use a simplified header that is 50-100 pixels in height.

  2. Enlarge your text and buttons.

  3. Choose bold images with a single focus.

  4. Link to mobile-friendly sites.

  5. Streamline your layout (a single column layout works best).


Mobile User Point #5: Super Social Networkers

The Experian study also notes that if total time spent online were condensed down to an hour, then the average mobile user spends sixteen minutes of that hour on social networking sites. The importance of a social media presence for webmasters can’t be stressed enough. With so many mobile users spending time on sites like Twitter and Facebook, social media presents a significant opportunity for webmasters to expand their online reach.


Mobile User Point #6: The Informed Consumer

The Mobile Path to Purchase study by Nielsen, xAd, and Telmetrics suggests that nearly half of the consumers they surveyed rely only on their mobile devices for pre-purchase research. They also found that 77% of people using their smartphones for research convert while in a store. Furthermore, they found that 30% of smartphone users and 25% of tablet users have immediate needs and purchase within an hour.

It’s also worth noting that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with making online purchases through their mobile devices. This has significant implications for mobile advertising, and also underscores the necessity of webmasters making purchase information readily available. Webmasters should also utilize consumer review sites like Yelp and Google Places to bolster their online reputations.


The Bottom Line

Although PC internet access is still going strong, people increasingly prefer to access the internet on the go. Professional demands, long commutes, multiple social activities, and other factors that keep people away from home make mobile internet access a necessity for many people. In fact, the CISCO global forecast estimates that global mobile data traffic will increase thirteen-fold between 2012 and 2017. Today’s webmasters must accommodate both PC and mobile users, as the need for mobile accessibility will only grow in the future.

2 thoughts on “Viewer Behavior Differences on Mobile Devices vs Desktop Computers

  1. I’ve been researching the difference in user-experience and internet usage between mobile & desktop users. This gives a good idea of what mobile is doing. Thanks

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