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“Mobile First” Isn’t Supposed to Mean “Ignore Desktop” — Here’s Why You Still Need a Solid Desktop Experience

Your brand’s desktop experience still matters a whole lot, despite our mobile-focused world. Some brands may even want to make desktop their first consideration during website design and strategy.

That assertion may sound contradictory in an era where many marketers — us included — strongly recommend that mobile-first should be the default. But, to clarify, when people say “mobile first,” that doesn’t have to necessarily mean “desktop last.”

There’s no question that all businesses need to consider mobile a leading priority for their digital marketing development strategy. But, they also have to consider the volume of users who migrate between mobile and desktop as a natural part of their browsing habits.

Desktop browsing still comprises a huge portion of how we spend our free time. For certain tasks or certain personality types, “desktop first” may actually be the default — not mobile. The key is to research how your own website visitors, customers, and leads use desktop computers within their personal journeys. By uncovering how and when your audiences use desktop, you can determine appropriate strategies and content that accommodate their browsing habits.

Desktop Browsing Isn’t Growing, But It’s Still Huge!

The first thing to recognize is that when people talk about how much mobile is growing these days, they don’t always mean to imply that people are browsing on their desktops less. Because mobile devices give us convenient, accessible methods for browsing in nearly any situation, we spend more time online overall.

In 2008, we spent around 2.7 hours a day on average online. In 2016, we spent 5.6 hours a day online. The biggest swathe of growth occurred within — you guessed it — mobile. While people spent a paltry 20 minutes a day on mobile in 2008, we now spend over three hours today. Yet, the entire time desktop browsing habits have not changed — around 2.2 hours every day.

So, people are browsing constantly on mobile, but they still take the time to sit down at their PCs and laptops to do a different sort of browsing. During these times, their habits and intent changes, too.

Aim Your Content at Mobile/Desktop According to Users’ Habits

According to data gathered by Stone Temple, people spend about twice as much time on each site when using desktop compared to mobile.

In addition to having longer site dwell times, people tend to look at different sites and content on mobile compared to desktop. For instance, people searching for restaurants, entertainment and locally-based services usually look at mobile. Yet, when it comes to research, people tend to spend more time looking up reviews and product information on desktop.

The best way to think about it is that people tend to discover things and resolve immediate needs via mobile, but they explore content deeply on the larger screen format. They also tend to make most “big” purchases — like airline tickets, more-expensive items and important services — on desktop.

So, if you want to provide answers or draw people into the top of the funnel (or hook them back into the funnel), then perhaps mobile-optimized content heavy on engaging, beautiful visuals and sparing on text would be best. But, for longer consideration purchases or deeper information, you can predict that your audience will choose to view content on desktop.

But, keep in mind these are generalizations. Every brand has different relationships with their audience, and their audience is also going to be segmented into people who use certain devices for certain purposes. You will have to look to your own data to determine when someone is likely to view certain content via mobile versus mobile, and then you must respond with the best-fit approach.

Essentially, the goal is to always think about context and intent. When designing a webpage or piece of content for any reason, consider:

“How does this particular asset fit snugly within the natural customer journey?”

Then, you can decipher the best way to approach your content or page layout accordingly.

Determining user habits can be accomplished by looking at Google Analytics’ device metrics, but you should supplement this information with surveys of your own audience base, if possible. By discovering how and when they they move across devices, your content can conform to their needs and improve their likelihood to convert at each stage.

Need help structuring your content for specific purposes, or want to strategize better so you can accommodate your audience’s unique, multi-device journey? EverSpark Interactive can help you with audience research, marketing strategy, content marketing services and more. Contact us today to start your own journey towards better, more effective marketing.