In 2015, we noted that access to websites through mobile devices was a vital consideration in any new website design. Back then the headline figures from Ofcom were somewhat exaggerated, being based on kB of data transferred, but claimed 61% of web traffic was through mobile devices. This was not reflected in statistical reports based on visitor numbers to ‘normal’ websites, or in own observation of browsing statistics on client’s websites.
A personal glimpse of current browsing habits (July 2020), suggests that our client’s websites are now more closely in-line with the earlier Ofcom report:
Visitors to commercial websites now split approximately evenly between desktop and mobile devices, while visitors using a tablet come in at about 20% of the total.
Visitors to our academic websites, in contrast, have more conservative browsing habits: Most academics have access to a larger desktop device which they use for research, and the statistical split is closer to 80% on desktops, with most of the remaining visitors being on smaller mobile devices, and only about 1% accessing sites through tablets. For some academic sites there will also be issues with getting access to an internal site that is only available over a VPN, but that is not a factor in these statistics.
Despite the change in visitor profile, very few modern websites pay more than lip-service to design for mobile use. The design principle stops at cramming a large desktop site (that the boss sees in the design briefs) into a smaller format, with no consideration to the reduced processing power and bandwidth that these devices have access to, or increased cost a visitor may experience in downloading a graphics heavy website…