Three ways rising mobile consumption should inform web strategy

I’ve just published a piece at the Press Gazette which explores a significant milestone for the BBC and anyone else involved in the world of fast moving, content-rich websites. For the very first time more people visited the BBC online via mobile phones than via desktop and laptop PCs. It happened on Sunday 14 July. And then again on Saturday 20 July.

As I note in the piece this is merely an extreme case (for now) of a trend that has been apparent for a while:

The direction of travel is clear: more and more people are accessing news-based websites from mobile devices (tablets as well as smartphones) and we have plenty of evidence that this is the case.

In an effort to identify the meaning of this milestone, I suggest that it matters in three ways*:

  1. It should inform web design
  2. It may change newsroom shift patterns
  3. It may make you rethink your app strategy

Anyway, you can read the piece in full here: The BBC passes mobile landmark. And that matters why?

*It probably matters in more than three ways.

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How to use Tumblr

Tumblr is a blogging platform but it isn’t WordPress. If that feels like a distinction so minor that it’s not worth making, I do think the differences between the two platforms, however small, do matter.

Tumblr tends to be more visual, more instant; less of the analysis, more of the bite-sized. Of course all these rules are there to be broken but those truths about the platform most likely explain why lots of people (and by people I mean newspapers, magazines, broadcasters etc) are struggling to work out how to use it.

As a counterpoint, here are four traditional media outlets that are using it well:

  1. Financial Times
  2. The Economist
  3. The Times
  4. New Statesman

In my Press Gazette column this week I explain why they have mastered Tumblr.

Apple’s iPhone and the production, distribution and consumption of news

Earlier this week, I was asked the following five questions by a student researching the impact of smart devices, particularly the iPhone, on news.

1. Why did people start reading news on mobile devices? And when?

2. How has the technology since the first iPhone changed the way we consume news on devices?

3. Why do you think Murdoch’s tablet-only newspaper ‘Daily’ failed?

4. How has the newswriting changed since the first iPhone? (i.e. shorter, punchier, use of images, headlines etc.)

5. We are available, and everything is available to us, at all times. Has this changed how many times people read news each day to keep updated?

They are interesting questions and I offered him my initial thoughts which I published on my Press Gazette blog.

How the iPad is extending the Guardian’s web day

Nine out of every ten visits to the Guardian website from tablet devices still come via an Apple iPad. This compares to 98 per cent two years ago and is despite the proliferation of Android-based alternatives since then (Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire are distant runners-up).

That was just one of the figures provided by Anthony Sullivan, the paper’s group product manager for journalism products during last Thursday’s Press Gazette News on the Move conference.

He also demonstrated how tablet usage was altering web consumption patterns across the weekday. Note the large green peak in the graph below which shows heavy tablet usage during the evening.

Guardian5

By cross-referencing the means of access (mobile network, WiFi, fixed network etc) the Guardian is able to make an educated guess that most of that tablet consumption is happening at home rather than on the move.

How? Well, according to Sullivan, 93 per cent is coming via WiFi which strongly suggests sofa/kitchen table/bed rather than train/bus/office.

Anthony intended to show this and four associated graphs during the session I ran at the conference but issues with the audio visual — familiar to any regular conference goer — meant he was restricted to describing what we couldn’t see.

Belatedly, you can see all five graphs over on the Press Gazette.

And you can watch the entirety of News on Move on this Google+ hangout. The panel session in question, starts at around 23 minutes and 50 seconds.

Finally, it is worth revisiting the FT graph I posted last week which shows some really interesting weekend consumption patterns brought about by increased mobile device usage. Both trends are reflected on other news and current affairs websites.

UPDATE: I was alerted to this analysis of tablet activity by the BBC based on access to the iPlayer. It was published a month ago but adds to the overall told above.

Weekends are the new weekdays: how mobile is changing user habits

There was a really smart piece of analysis by Jasper Jackson over on The Media Briefing yesterday where he looked at the impact of mobile device usage and how it affects “when consumers access your content”.

His findings, based on data from the FT and the Guardian, mirror the experience of the New Statesman and the Press Gazette – specifically how heavy usage of smartphones and tablets at weekends is filling the deep Saturday and Sunday troughs previously typical of news-based websites.

The FT graph also shows clearly the pre- and post-work ‘check-in’ via mobile devices during weekdays.

FT weekly consumption where blue is desktop and orange is mobile

Jackson notes:

A key point here is that the bulk of this traffic is additive – the FT is seeing high levels of traffic to its website during times when there was previously very little, simply because people now have a way of accessing it.

Again that mirrors my own experience.

So what lessons can digital publishers draw from this data? For one answer Jackson quotes Tom Betts, FT’s head of data:

We are starting to see a number of changes to the way editorial teams publish. Obviously having someone working nine-to-five on mobile publishing doesn’t work.

And if you don’t have a weekend operation, perhaps now is the time to start. More over at The Media Briefing.