Social Enterprise

Internet trends and your web development strategy

Ryan Boudreaux looks at some of the latest reports on how users are spending their time on the web. Keeping an eye on trends is one way for web developers to stay current.

Recent figures in Internet activity include several interesting trends, including:

  • the number of smartphone-user adoption rates
  • Cyber Monday sales figures
  • mobile banking app usage
  • social networking on mobile social media
  • hours spent online
  • search habits

Trends in worldwide Internet activity may or may not translate well into changes and updates to an organization's web development and design plans. As a result, many organizations may be missing out on capturing more visits, more page views, increasing their customer base, and ultimately, increasing sales and exposure. So what do these trends mean for your organization's web presence? Let's take a look at several trends as reported by comScore, the organization that does a great job of measuring the digital world.

Mobile social media

According to this report, the on the go social media audience has increased 37% in the past year from comparisons of two three-month averages ending in August 2010 and August 2011; survey respondents  stated they had visited a social networking site at least once in the last month. Total audience grew from 52.7 million to 72.3 million visitors. "Social media is one of the most popular and fastest growing mobile activities, reaching nearly one third of all U.S. mobile users," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president for mobile. "This behavior is even more prevalent among smartphone owners, with three in five accessing social media each month, highlighting the importance of apps and the enhanced functionality of smartphones to social media usage on mobile devices." Does your organizations web presence also include social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter?

Mobile banking

According to a study reported on October 26, 2011, 32.5 million Americans accessed mobile banking information from apps on their mobile devices at the end of Q2 2011 in June, representing 13.9 percent of all mobile users. This number represents a 45% increase from the Q4 2010 figures. Mobile banking information access showed a 21% increase, access to mobile credit card information showed a 23% increase, access requests for mobile auto or property insurance information showed a 19% increase, and mobile access to stock or brokerage information showed a 10% increase. If you support the web within a banking industry firm, does your organization provide mobile apps for access to banking information? This seems to be a growing trend among mobile users.

Smartphone adoption rates

According to this report released September 2011, the smartphone adoption rate in Canada has reached 40% of the total mobile device market share. Leading the pack in smartphone platform usage in Canada is RIM at 35.8%, Apple at 30.1%, and Google at 25%, followed by small usage rates from Symbian, and Microsoft. According to the report,  mobile browsers were a popular way of accessing mobile content, used by 36.9 percent of the total audience and 74.8 percent of the Smartphone audience. 39.5 percent of the total audience and 79.3 percent of the smartphone audience used their phones to stay up-to-date on the latest news. Increasing numbers of Internet users in Canada are adopting mobile access for their online content delivery.

As for the U.S. rate of adoption, GigaOm.com cites the newest Nielsen report findings that 44 percent of U.S. residents own smart devices (compared to only 18 percent in 2009) with the iPhone leading the way. Does your website have mobile browser friendly web pages?

Online shopping

Cyber Week sales figures for 2011 are in and according to reports, nearly $6 billion dollars were spent online the week ending December 2, with three days totaling just over $1 billion dollars each starting with Cyber Monday. "Cyber Monday kicked the week off with a bang as consumers opened their wallets to the tune of $1.25 billion, but it was only the beginning of a very strong week of online holiday spending," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni:

Tuesday and Wednesday followed with billion dollar spending days, helping Cyber Week reach a record weekly total of nearly $6 billion in spending. As the deals from this week expire, it will be important to see the degree to which consumers return to the same retailers to continue their holiday shopping, thereby helping improve retailers' profit margins, or if we experience a pullback in consumer spending - which has occurred in previous years - before promotional offers and spending intensity pick back up in earnest around mid-December.

Does your organization show increased sales from online shopping opportunities?

Hours spent online

Why should you care how many hours visitors spend online? In one recent month in France, online users spent on average 4.1 hours per month on social networking sites, in April of 2010, the average Internet user in Singapore spent more than 10 hours viewing online video, and Internet users in Peru spent an average of 27 hours online during July 2011, and ranks as one of the most engaged markets in Latin America. And, according to another report, the average Internet user in Malaysia spends at least one-third of their time on social networking sites such as Facebook, Yahoo, CBS Interactive, and Google. These statistics display visitor trends represented from three separate continents, and also highlight the diversity found among customers across all borders. How much of the across-border customer base has your organization captured through your Internet presence?

What do these online trends mean for the average web developer? It could mean the difference in keeping your organization ahead of the pack or losing out on opportunities for increased business and exposure. Unless your organization is paying attention to global trends, you may not realize that your web development strategy is falling behind. Overall you may start seeing changes in the way your content gets delivered from traditional web browser-based searches to new sources including complete web enabled devices that go beyond the mobile platforms we know today.

Smart phones are the rage today, and I would venture a guess that more smart appliances are just around the corner; several smart refrigerators now include features such as automatically creating grocery lists based on product usage and being able to connect to mobile apps to update grocery lists while out shopping. Internet access to more domestic smart home devices is probably just around the corner. LG has a smart home solution that includes Internet-enabled washers, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, ovens, and dish washers. This could equate to more opportunities for mobile apps being developed that connect owners/renters to their home/apartment, giving them more control over the things they possess.

Keep up with the trends - they'll probably point your web development skills in the right direction.

About

Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

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