ICYMI: Mobile Traffic Is Taking Down Desktop – What You Need To Know

by on June 14, 2017

The rising use of mobile over the past decade has pushed responsive web design into standard practice, making most websites easily compatible with a variety of devices. In fact, if you’re reading this, you probably already have a responsive site!

In the US, desktop usage still reigns overall at about 52% (StatCounter). That gap is rapidly closing, though, and if we look at the rest of the world, we see the tide has already turned.

As of this past November, mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage worldwide – a trend that only continued to grow over the last six months (StatCounter). If there was ever a doubt about the importance of mobile traffic, by now it’s been squashed!

So – we know that users come from both mobile and desktop, but now we need to know WHY? When are users more likely to visit your site from mobile? From desktop? And how can we cater to each of those experiences so that users get the most out of your site?


Let’s turn to a quick breakdown of what studies are telling us:

  • 77% of Americans now own smartphones and that “growth… has been especially pronounced among Americans 50 and older” (Pew Research Center)
  • 51% of Americans today own a tablet (Pew Research Center)
  • Globally, consumers own 3.64 devices on average (GlobalWebIndex) (though we’re curious to see what .64 of a device would look like…)
  • Between January and March of 2016, 57% of (nearly 12000) Chrome users aged 18 to 49 switched back and forth between devices on a typical day (Google)
  • 40% of those users perform searches exclusively with smartphones (Google)
  • Location impacted device choice for participants in the study – smartphones get used when people are out and about (work, shopping, errands, bars and restaurants) but the usage increases overall in the evenings (Google)
  • People use their desktop devices for more involved tasks, like trip-planning or researching big ticket items (like a household appliance) (Google)
  • Tasks performed on mobile tend to be more spontaneous (businesses near me, quick searches) (Google)


To top it off, Dave Chaffey from digital marketing company Smart Insights confirms: “The reality is that while smartphone use is overwhelmingly popular for some activities such as social media, messaging and catching up with news and gossip, the majority of consumers in western markets also have desktop (and tablet) devices which they tend to use for more detailed review and purchasing.” (SmartInsights)

So, what can you do with all this information? Look at your own users and leverage the data you have on them to shape the way you think of your site. Trends change quickly – what’s desktop today may be mobile tomorrow.

And of course, as always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!


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