When the number of searches on mobile devices surpassed those on desktops in 2015, it was about people ditching their desktops and everyone working from their phones and maybe a tablet here and there. Laptops would be important, because desks would turn into floating spaces without permanence. The very idea of the desktop seemed so old school, stuck in the office or home office, while interactions with mobile websites were back and forth.
That was in 2015. Six years later, what are the numbers? Has the use of desktop websites become minimized and should everything be accommodated with the smaller screens and the design constraints of smartphones?
Not so fast. When the data from Google Analytics is aggregated, it shows that while mobile website visits continue to increase, desktops are not going anywhere. Plus, desktop website visits get longer and more pages are visited, which is exactly the kind of user engagement healthcare practices need.
Let’s look at Google’s statistics for 2020 compared to 2019.
In 2020, mobile devices accounted for 61% of visits to U.S. websites. That figure was up from 57% in 2019. Desktop computers were responsible for 35.7% of all visits in 2020, and tablets led the remaining 3.3% of visitors. This seems to make the case for website design around mobile first and desktop second.
But let’s not jump at the gun. Let’s check the time spent on the websites visited.
Google’s statistics are virtually identical from 2019 to 2020. Desktop users spent 0.16 billion hours on websites, while mobile users spent 0.13 billion hours. This has only changed from the respective figures of 0.17 and 0.12 from 2019.
This makes sense because larger screens and keyboards make it easier for in-depth research, entertainment, and other activities on the desktop.
You would expect this to equate to longer sessions for the desktop, and it does. The average time spent on site in seconds for the office fell from 289.48 seconds in 2019 to 323.47 seconds in 2020. For mobile, it was far behind, from 136.40 seconds in 2019 to 158.21 seconds last year. This means that desktop users spend double the time on websites compared to mobile users.
Bounce rates are also much higher on mobile. Bounce rate is defined as a session where the user visits only one page and leaves it. In 2019, bounce rates for mobile users were 53.66%, compared to 41.63% for desktops. In 2020, bounce rates fell somewhat to 51.36% on mobile and 40.18% on desktop.
Of course, part of this difference could be due to what mobile users are doing with their phones. They might be looking to meet an immediate need, such as finding a phone number or an address. In contrast, people are more likely to use the desktop if they want to read multiple pages or do in-depth research.
It also plays into these statistics. Desktop page views in 2019 were 3.59 per visit, increasing to 3.68 in 2020. Mobile is one page less at 2.59 in 2019 and 2.54 in 2020.
When you break the numbers down into categories, such as beauty and fitness, finance, or shopping, desktops lead in each category for time spent on the website, with two exceptions: books, literature and games. These were not earned by mobile, but by tablet. This makes sense considering reading eBooks and games on larger tablet screens, combined with their portability.
What does this mean for health websites?
At Advice Media, we’ve been designing the web’s most beautiful and engaging websites for the medical world for over two decades. Every site we build works seamlessly on mobile devices from the minute the site is launched. But that doesn’t mean we’ve downgraded the scope and quality of our office designs. Everything but.
This is because, as these statistics show, as people use their smartphones for more research and visit more sites with them, the quality of those visits cannot replicate the desktop. This is especially important for more complex decisions such as plastic surgery, dermatology issues, dental procedures, orthopedics, and other medical specialties. For these kinds of page visits, users want more information to help them make decisions, and that’s difficult with the constraints of smart phones.
This is why the sites we build at Advice are not reduced to a minimum of copies or chips to cater only to mobile visitors. Instead, we build sites with solid content that educates potential patients about the procedures and treatments they are considering. Sure, the sites work seamlessly on mobile, but they work largely on desktop because that’s where visitors do this type of research.
So don’t erase the desktop anytime soon. As this last year of COVID madness has taught us all, a nation forced to work from home has suddenly rediscovered its home desktop computers. This is a good thing for all medical practices.
If you have any questions about these statistics and how they relate to your practice, call your Advice Media representative and let’s talk. If you are not a customer, fill out a contact form and let’s rectify this situation.