One our goals for the WhichWayNC.com project is to achieve 50 percent of our site visits on mobile devices. Like all news outlets, we analyze our website statistics to help us figure out how to reach our goals. The problem with tracking both mobile and desktop usage for one website is recognizing the differences in website interactions these two platforms can have based on one set of analytics. The interactions can skew the analytics in interesting ways.
Our analytics allow us to track how far down on a page our visitors are scrolling. We noticed that the majority of our visitors were scrolling either 25 percent or 100 percent down the page. This didn’t make sense because a visitor would obviously have to scroll 50 percent and 75 percent to get to the bottom. However, when examining how the site appears on desktops, we realized the larger screen allowed more of the story to be displayed. The visitor could read most of the story and scroll once to read the last paragraph, triggering the statistics to show that he or she jumped from the top of the page to the bottom. On mobile, a high percentage of visitors scrolled all the way to the end of story, but because of the extremely short average time visitors were staying on the page before leaving (less than 10 seconds on average), we concluded most mobile users were simply flicking their fingers across their screen to scroll and see if there was anything of interest. In the end, we concluded we would add bolded subheads and spread our visual content out to catch the mobile visitor’s quick eye.
The desktop usage could have led us to focus on the top and bottom of the page, but understanding its influence on the statistics helped us separate them and identify what mattered for our mobile focus.