Back in 2016, we saw an increasing number of people using tablets and mobile devices instead of desktop computers to browse the internet. On average, the combined number of mobile and tablet users finally surpassed the number of desktop users globally and the upwards trend is still continuing.
This fact means that web developers often have to create two or three versions of a website to make sure people on screens of all sizes have a good user experience and are therefore more likely to convert. Website owners may also use a responsive web design or create a business app to offer a good user experience on all devices.
Since April 2015, having a website that’s not mobile friendly now affects Google’s search engine rankings for mobile searches. Google has also recently launched mobile first indexing which exclusively looks at the website experience for mobile devices.
Visitors using a smartphone to browse a website that’s not mobile friendly will on average:
- spend less time browsing the site (smartphone users are quick to give up on a bad website)
- be less likely to perform any desirable actions (such as making a purchase or calling a phone number)
- be more likely to return back to the search engine results (to visit another website)
It’s really important to look closely at how your mobile and tablet users interact with your website, so you can find out if there are any significant concerns which need to be addressed. Luckily, Google Analytics has the ability to separate out desktop, mobile and tablet traffic so you can look into important statistics once analytics tracking is correctly setup.
Comparing Desktop Vs Mobile Vs Tablet Traffic
In Google Analytics you can see an overview of the different device categories by visiting the “Reporting” tab and then: Audience > Mobile > Overview
On the mobile overview report you’ll see a wealth of data, especially if goal tracking or ecommerce tracking is implemented. Ensure that you have a large date range set in the top right corner to make the results statistically significant. The more historic data you select, the more accurate the results will be.
The quickest way to see useful statistics is to click on the little pie chart icon on the right hand side. Here you can see what share of traffic the different devices get, or their contribution to the total amount of goals achieved or revenue generated:
Another great tool is the comparison tool which shows you how a metric is performing compared to the site average and usually highlights the best and worst cases. The better than average results are shown in green and the worse than average results are shown in red (see image below). Make sure you choose an insightful metric where all the traffic is on a level playing field, such as the ecommerce conversion rate or the average session duration:
Rather than simply measuring the volume of users performing a desirable action on your website, it is more useful to measure the percentage of users who perform that action. This allows you to say confidently that “For every 100 mobile users we have just over 2 sales, but for every 100 desktop or laptop users, we have nearly have double!” as shown in the example above. For most websites, the number of visitors on different devices is not as important as how well visitors on different devices convert.
One other report to look at is the mobile device report within Google Analytics which can be found in the same section: Audience > Mobile > Device
You can break down the reports into individual devices, brands or even different screen resolutions:
This same comparison report option can be used for many useful reports within Google Analytics and is well worth having a play around with.
Creating Custom Device Reports
If you are feeling particularly adventurous then you can segment mobile traffic further using a custom report from the “Customisation” (or “Customization”) tab at the top of Analytics. The example below would show just the organic (SEO) traffic for mobile users who land on the homepage [shortcut link to custom report]:
Custom reports can be used to segment data in many useful ways on important reports such as landing page, campaign or search query reports.
It’s often important to segment out desktop, mobile and tablet devices as the look, feel and way people interact with the websites on each device is very different.
The three device types are also used in different places at different times. For example, a mobile phone user could be hastily viewing a website whilst on public transport, but a tablet user may be casually browsing a website whilst simultaneously watching television at home.
Improving Mobile and Tablet Performance
Improving mobile and tablet performance can boost the number of overall conversions by ensuring that visitors either stay on the website longer, or that they find it easier to perform a desired action such as a call, signup or sale.
Certain areas on a website may not function properly on mobile or tablet devices due to many reasons such as:
- Widgets not being supported on a mobile device (for example Flash video players do not work on iPhones)
- Un-clickable popups stopping a website being used on a small screen (obtrusive mobile interstitials)
- Tiny text links or button images which cannot be selected easily on a touch screen (bad mobile user experience)
- Elements of the website overlapping each other (hidden or un-clickable content)
Since most websites have over 50% combined mobile and tablet traffic, it’s vitally important to get mobile right by identifying where improvements could be made. To make the best improvements, ensure that you compare metrics such as conversion rate for different devices before and after the change, ideally using split testing software such as Google Optimize, Visual Website Optimiser or Optimizely:
One great test is to simply pick up different smartphones or tablets and give your website a thorough test on each device. You’d be surprised how many website owners have never tried this simple method out!
An even better test is to watch a real person try to perform a task on your website without giving them any help. You can specify the task you’d like them to complete, then note down where they got stuck and ask them to talk you through their thoughts on the process so you can identify any issues.