When the number of searches conducted on mobile devices surpassed those done on desktop in 2015, there was talk of people ditching their desktop computers and everyone working from their phones and maybe a tablet here and there. Laptops would be important, as offices would transform into floating spaces without permanence. The whole idea of the desktop seemed so old school, stuck in the office or the home office, while mobile website interactions were out and about.
That was 2015. Six years later, what are the numbers? Has desktop website usage become minimized, and should everything be geared to the smaller screens and design constraints of smart phones?
Not so fast. When data from Google Analytics is aggregated, it shows that, while mobile website visits continue to climb, desktop isn’t going anywhere. Plus, desktop website visits are longer, and more pages are visited, which is exactly the kind of user involvement healthcare practices need.
Let’s check out Google’s stats from 2020 compared with 2019.
In 2020, mobile devices made up 61% of visits to U.S. websites. This was up from 57% in 2019. Desktops were responsible for 35.7% of all visits in 2020, and tablets drove the remaining 3.3% of visitors. That seems to make the case for designing websites around mobile first and desktop second.
But let’s not jump the gun. Let’s check out time spent on the websites visited.
Google’s stats are virtually identical from 2019 to 2020. Desktop users spent 0.16 billion hours on websites, while mobile users spent 0.13 billion hours. That only changed from the 0.17 and 0.12 respective numbers from 2019.
This makes sense because the larger screens and keyboards make in-depth research, experiencing entertainment, and other activities easier on desktop.
You would expect that to equate to longer sessions for desktop, and it does. Average time spent on site in seconds for desktop rose from 289.48 seconds in 2019 to 323.47 seconds in 2020. For mobile, it was far behind, rising from 136.40 seconds in 2019 to 158.21 seconds last year. That means desktop users spend double the amount of time on websites compared with mobile users.
Bounce rates are much higher on mobile as well. Bounce rate is defined as a session where the user visits just a single page and leaves. In 2019, bounce rates for mobile users were 53.66%, compared to 41.63% on desktop. In 2020, bounce rates dropped somewhat to 51.36% on mobile and 40.18% on desktop.
Of course, some of that differential could be due to what mobile users are doing with their phones. They could be seeking to answer an immediate need, such as finding a phone number or an address. In contrast, people are more likely to use desktop if they want to read several pages or conduct in-depth research.
That plays out in those stats, too. Desktop page views in 2019 were 3.59 per visit, rising to 3.68 in 2020. Mobile is a full page less at 2.59 in 2019 and 2.54 in 2020.
When you break the numbers into categories — such as beauty and fitness, finance, or shopping — desktop leads in every single category for time spent on the website, with only two exceptions — books & literature and games. Those weren’t won by mobile, though, but by tablet. This makes sense considering reading eBooks and playing games on tablets’ larger screens, combined with their portability.
What does this mean for health websites?
At Advice Media, we’ve been designing the web’s most beautiful, engaging websites for the medical world for over two decades. Every site we build functions seamlessly on mobile devices from the minute the site is launched. But that doesn’t mean we’ve downgraded the expansiveness and quality of our desktop designs. Anything but.
That’s because, as these statistics show, while people are using their smartphones for more searches and are visiting more sites with them, the quality of those visits can’t replicate desktop. This is especially important for more involved decisions such as plastic surgery, dermatology concerns, dental procedures, orthopedics, and other medical specialties. For those kinds of page visits, users want more information to help them make decisions, and that’s difficult with the constraints of smart phones.
That’s why the sites we build at Advice aren’t downsized to minimal copy or bullet points to cater solely to mobile visitors. Instead, we build sites with robust content that educates potential patients about the procedures and treatments they are looking into. Sure, the sites function seamlessly on mobile, but they work expansively on desktop because that’s where visitors are conducting this type of research.
So, don’t write off the desktop computer any time soon. As this past year of COVID craziness taught us all, a nation forced to work from home suddenly rediscovered their home office desktop computers. That’s a good thing for all medical practices.
If you have questions about these statistics and how they relate to your practice, give your Advice Media representative a shout and let’s talk. If you’re not a client, fill out a contact form and let’s rectify that situation.