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24/01/2012 | Webreality

Mobile website usage growth: some hard data

At Webreality we host and manage over 200 websites across a very wide range of sectors, giving us access to very rich data about usage trends.

Access to websites from mobile devices is the trend that’s been exercising our curiosity of late, so we decided to run some analysis on our usage data.

We selected 20 client websites across diverse industries. The 20 sites target different geographic and demographic audiences, range from very high traffic to lowly trafficked sites, and cover the commercial, public and third sectors. 14 of the websites belong to clients in Jersey, 6 to clients located off-island (5 UK and 1 Guernsey).

We analysed their traffic data for the month of December 2011, benchmarking against exactly the same period 12 months earlier.

The data we collected for each site was:

  • the total number of visits to the site from all devices, and 
  • the total number of visits from mobile devices.

For each site we then calculated the percentage of total visits in each period represented by mobile visits, and the growth rate in mobile visits from December 2010 to December 2011 as a percentage.

Finally, we collated all the data into totals for each data type and averages for the percentages.

The headline figures for the collated data across all 20 sites were:

Dec 2010

All visits = 107,006

Mobile visits = 3378

Mobile as % of all = 3.2%

Dec 2011

All visits = 121,829

Mobile visits = 12,553

Mobile as % of all = 10.3%

Some headline observations

  • The average rate of growth of mobile access year on year across the 20 websites is 226.4%.
  • This rate of growth extrapolated forward 12 months gives a projected average mobile access rate for Dec 2012 of 23.3% (all other factors being unchanged); so almost a quarter of all traffic to these 20 websites predicted to come from mobile devices in Dec 2012. In reality, we would predict that the growth rate will accelerate and that the mobile access rate will be over 25% in that month.
  • Websites in the travel and leisure sector showed especially high mobile access rates in December 2011. Four of the 20 sites studied were in this sector and their average rate of mobile access in Dec 2012 was 13.7%, 33% higher than the average mobile access rate across all 20 sites in that month.
  • Websites targeting predominantly Jersey-resident users also showed higher than average mobile access rates in December 2011. Seven of the 20 sites studied fell into this category and their average rate of mobile access in Dec 2012 was 13.9%, also 33% higher than the average mobile access rate across all 20 sites in that month.

Conclusions and recommendations

We expected mobile web access to increase significantly in 2011 and the results of this study provide hard evidence of the growth.

It is safe to assume that the rate of growth will at least be maintained through 2012.

Website owners cannot afford to neglect the rapid adoption of mobile devices as the default web browsing tool for a very-fast growing proportion of users.

Options for providing the best possible mobile browsing experience should be considered at the beginning of any website build or re-build project.

These options might include:

  • A website design using “responsive design” principles to ensure that the website adapts gracefully to the device in use;
  • A bespoke mobile version of the website; or
  • A mobile app, where merited.

Carefully planned at the outset of a project, such additional investment need not be burdensome, and in view of the proven rapid growth in appetite for mobile access to websites of all kinds, is likely to prove well worthwhile.