The importance of mobile in the digital newsroom is growing at an incredible rate. More and more readers are engaging with online publishers through mobile devices, from the moment their alarm goes off in the morning to when they turn off the light at night. As traditional print-based publications are getting to grips with the concept of ‘Digital First’ publishing, they must now embrace the concept of ‘Mobile First’ publishing.
In early 2014, the INM data science team observed an increase of 90% in unique users coming to independent.ie on mobile devices in just a four-month period. Our mobile traffic was doing well, but we felt we could do better. Bringing together the talents of our editorial, design, and development teams we set about providing an exceptional reading experience for our content through the web browser on mobile devices.
“Mobile traffic now makes up 38% of our overall website traffic, a far cry from the 18% back in January 2014”
Using a number of data-driven iterations, we observed the navigation and consumption patterns of our mobile readers. We understood the type of content that users engaged with on mobile devices, how they used navigation components and where they became lost. These insights were used to continually refine the design and improve the user experience.
One year later and the reaction to this new mobile experience is unprecedented. Mobile traffic now makes up 38% of our overall website traffic, a significant increase from the 18% back in January 2014. Mobile is now competing with desktop for the position of top traffic channel, and the daily mobile audience on Independent.ie has trebled in size in just 12 months.
Reusing Data Insights
Many of the insights gleaned through the process of designing our mobile website experience were packaged up into the latest versions of our mobile apps for iPhone and Android. Reusing audience insights in this way has enabled our app designers and developers to hit the ground running, and the new versions have doubled the monthly traffic coming from mobile apps in just 3 months. Moving forward we will reuse these insights again to improve the mobile experience for users on our other group publication websites and their associated apps.
A particularly attractive quality of mobile traffic is its predictability and consistency across the week. While desktop users cut the physical cord and switch off their devices for the weekend, news consumption both in-app and in-browser on mobile devices continues at the same rate across the week. As the proportion of independent.ie readers on mobile continues to grow, this gives the newsroom an increasingly consistent audience across the entire week that are looking for new and fresh content.
“As the proportion of Independent.ie readers on mobile continues to grow, this gives the newsroom an increasingly consistent audience across the entire week”
As mobile continues to grow, it is key that digital newsrooms embrace mobile as the predominant channel for news consumption. This has implications across the board, from the technology we choose to the style, length and content of the news articles that we write. Data and data science have a key role to play as we can only be customer-focused if we observe and react to how customers are using our products on a daily basis.