As an analyst at a marketing agency I get to monitor web analytics on over 200 websites. It’s great to query data across many sites to run comparative analysis. Recently I created a segment to track visitors from gaming systems such as Playstation, Nintendo, and Xbox/MCSE. I was very surprised to see that, while this segment is a very small % of overall visitors, on typical site visitors from this segment have been growing rapidly since 2009. I decided to expand the scope of this segment to visitors from devices other than laptops, smartphones, and popular tablets. In the new segment I included visitors from Television based systems (i.e. Google TV) and uncommon mobile devices (i.e. Sony Devices, Kindles, portable gaming devices, small BlackBerrys, etc).
Unsure what I should call this oddball segment, I decided to label as “the others.” When I looked at the data across several B2C and B2B websites I saw that the others have been growing by over 100% each year for that past several years.
Does that mean that we need to start designing our sites for the normal laptop/tablet/smartphone displays AND teeny tiny devices AND big screen TVS? Probably not yet. While this segment is growing very rapidly, it is still less than 5% of the traffic on most sites. But the others are definitely coming. In 2013 we will see some interesting product launches such as a new Apply TV system, a new XBOX 720 system, and even Intel has said they will launch web tv system at the upcoming CES. These systems will likely provide enhanced web surfing capabilities on screens with very large displays/resolutions. At this rate the others may account for 7-10% of the traffic on many sites by the end of 2014.
What does this mean for web teams?
In 2013 we need to stop thinking about fixed layout websites that are utilized by visitors with a mouse and keyboard. Buzz phrases such as responsive design, adaptive templates, and liquid layouts have been part of the web team’s vocabulary for years. In 2013 we will all need to start honing our skills at sites with more flexible layouts. This will span several roles as designers will need to think about scaling graphics and photos, writers will need to think about how content is perceived as sentences/paragraphs/pages, and engineers will need to think in percentages of height/width rather than aggregate pixels. The sites that will be prized by the largest audiences over the next several years will be adaptable to almost any resolution and will be designed around visitors that are using keyboards, gaming controllers, controller free (i.e. XBOX Kinect), multi-touch displays, or even voice recognition to interact with sites
Mark Ryan, Founder, Extractable
Mark Ryan has an extensive background in web application development, Search Engine Marketing, and Web Analytics. As a founder of Extractable, Mark manages the Strategy, Creative, Engineering, and Project Management groups at Extractable. Mark enjoys working with Web Analytics and sits on various committees of the Web Analytics Association. Mark started his career in Internet development at Applied Materials where he served an integral role in the design and development of the companies first online Inventory and Support Management System. He also developed applications for premiere clients such as Intel, AMD, and Siemens. After Applied Materials, Mark served as Senior Applications Engineer for USWeb’s Content Management group and worked on the design and implementation of the company’s first web based content management application.