Forget the Mythical Mobile Visitor — Identify Your Site’s Hot Mobile Tasks

If you’ve been looking at your site’s mobile analytics lately — and you should be – you’re likely seeing mobile visits continuing to rise, especially if your corporate or government site has applied a responsive or mobile design.’s dashboard shows that mobile now accounts for about 30% of sessions. Similarly, on the Canadian site below, we can see sessions from mobile devices and tablets rising over the course of the year, until by August 2015, mobile sessions account for 35% of the traffic.  By the way, the dip in winter traffic is normal for this site, as it serves warm weather tasks.

Chart of increasing mobile traffic for one year

Aggregating the data this way can bring management attention to the rise in mobile visits. Serving your citizens and customers requires that attention. But looking at the data this way can also trick you.  You might start to think of those mobile visitors as a consistent layer of your web traffic cake!

This layer approach can be misleading. Drill into the data, and you’ll see that mobile layer in your cake doesn’t reflect a consistent set of ‘mobile visitors’. In fact, Uk data from Comscore shows that people use different devices at different times of the day. Web visitors are also choosing which device to use according to the task they have in mind. For example,  Google reports that in Canada, 80% of mobile searches happened where a computer is available. Google has conducted extensive research on tasks that people tend to do from their mobile devices – check out their Micro-Moments studies.

This pattern of using different devices for different tasks will show up in your site analytics if you drill down from the layer approach to viewing device sessions for pages. At the page level, you’ll likely see hot mobile pages on your site – pages with very high mobile traffic and other pages with very low numbers of mobile visits. The chart below shows how drilling down to look at the device proportions by pages reveals that the mobile layer can be quite uneven. For the site shown above, the top pages range from 6% mobile to 40% mobile.

Device proportions by page for site











Inspired by this approach, a colleague at Netlife Research analyzed the device traffic for the pages of a client’s site, producing the incredible green & black image below of the client site’s range of traffic. Sessions from mobile average about 60% of traffic on this site, yet some pages show very few mobile sessions, others are predominantly mobile. Seeing this range helps the team identify outliers and tune the design of those tasks to the devices used.

Chart of pages of site with traffic by device type

Once you confirm that a range does exist on your site (and we haven’t seen a site yet without a wide range!),  focus in on your site’s mobile hotspots by charting just the ten pages with the highest amount of mobile traffic. Those are your hot mobile tasks.  Those pages are the priority – they need your mobile optimization attention far more than the pages with few mobile visits. In the chart below, from the same site, pages with the highest mobile traffic have been pulled out of the data and identified for the web team as priorities for mobile optimization.

Bar chart of top mobile pages stacked by device













Now that you’ve identified the hot mobile pages on your site, your next step should be optimize them for mobile task completion. Take a Mobile-First approach to that optimization.

Learn about Mobile First at LukeW

There’s no such thing as a ‘mobile visitor’ — just visitors using a mobile device for different tasks at different moments.


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