A new report, Culture on the Go, from UK web-watchers CIBER Research, shows how access to information is changing as people search for, read and use information on the move. A growing proportion of web browsing happens on smartphones like the new Mac iPhone 4S and tablets like the iPad, and no longer on PCs and laptops in homes and offices. This shift will have a radical impact on the design and functionality of websites, and will inevitably reflect back to the desktop screen itself.
The report sets out to show how people search the Web via mobile devices and compares this with use of the same platform by PC and laptop users. The data was collected for visitors to Europeana.eu using deep log analysis and data mining techniques during 2010 – 2011. The main findings were that visits from users on the go are very different in the aggregate to those from fixed platforms. Visits are typically shorter, less interactive, and less content is viewed per visit. The variation between different mobile devices is huge, with information seeking on smartphones substantially different from that associated with PCs and laptops, whereas from iPads the behaviour tends more towards PC-based browsing.
Most websites have been designed for access from a PC or laptop, and accessing the Web via a mobile device is quite a different experience. Many websites from the cultural heritage sector are attracting a new demographic that includes more digital natives. This, coupled with the fact that people are used to paying for content via mobile devices, heralds a transformation in the way cultural web services will be delivered.
The full report can be accessed here.