Back in 2014, I chartered the rise of mobile web traffic, just based on our UK business directory. The talk at the time was whether you need a separate mobile site, as responsive websites at that time were not particularly great. But there were still far too many businesses that hadn't woken up to mobile web traffic.
So as an early adopter, I created the below graphic to demonstrate not only the importance of mobile traffic but also to make sure your website was displaying correctly on tablets, as that new type of device started to take off in popularity.
Now lets fast forward from 2014 to 2021
Looking back, and reviewing the stats since 2013, it's interesting to see what actually happened next.
Far from tablets gaining 20%+ market share, they peaked at 13.4% before declining back to 6.6% as it currently is in 2022.
Then look at mobile traffic. The talk at the time was mobile would surpass desktop/laptop web traffic as we all became mobile and searched on the move. So website design had to allow for ease of functionality and for use on small screens, with speed and good layout being essential.
While that is true, and today easily achievable with responsive designs that automatically change the look and feel based on the type of device, actual smartphone traffic peaked in 2019 at 42.1%. Combined with tablet traffic, it overtook desktop traffic for the first time, with just 48.7% of traffic coming from desktops or laptops.
Then everything changed. From 2020 desktop traffic started increasing, going to 55.3%, then reaching 61.2% in 2021. Meanwhile, tablet traffic steadily declined pointing to less usage from this kind of device, along with mobile traffic.
The obvious answer is the pandemic. From 2020 we had lockdowns, and we're encouraged to work from home, reducing time outside. The end result is more web surfing on desktop devices and less mobile and tablet traffic.
From January 2022, you might expect the picture to reverse and mobile traffic to dramatically increase. Whilst mobile traffic has picked up looking at the figures from Jan to May 2022, tablet traffic has remained in decline and it paints a picture of changing work habits. More hybrid working, more people permanently working from home, less train commuting and it looks like this is going to become an accepted way of working.
What can we learn from this?
In 2014, the mantra was all about the mobile site. Don't forget your mobile traffic, don't alienate potentially 50% of your visitors. In 2022 I would argue you could reverse that, and don't forget your desktop visitors! I suspect more people are surfing during the working day, whilst sitting at home with no boss looking over their shoulder. So make sure you capitalise on this market.
Check out your site and call to actions. They may be obvious and look great on a smartphone, but do they still have the same impact on a 1920 x 1080 resolution monitor?
There are some great tricks you can use in responsive designs to show more or less data depending on screen size and to change layouts. But make sure your web designer isn't just obsessing with the look and feel of your site on an iPhone.
- How does it look on your laptop?
- Where do most of your customers come from, mobile or desktop, or a mix of both?
- Analyze your analytics and make sure you are optimised for the right audience, or all audiences on all devices.
Does anyone have any of their own experiences? Have you seen customers or visitors change searching habits?
Do your stats and analytics echo the same picture, or are you seeing something different?