Last week, I was looking at a large data set to confirm the “pre-launch” iPad engagement numbers I mentioned in my prior post on the impact of mobile optimized experiences. Post-launch numbers confirmed visitors using the iPad were much more engaged when presented the standard/desktop version of a website than when those users received the mobile-optimized version. For the particular data set I reviewed (see chart below), engagement levels were 160% higher for iPad users on the standard site than for iPad users on the mobile site. You’ll also note iPhone users are more engaged on the mobile-optimized version of the site.
Before you run off and tell your tech team to alter your browser redirection strategy, you’ll want to confirm this behavior on your own data set. However, as you can see from the chart above, providing the right experience to the right set of users can significantly improve engagement.
Right device, wrong experience
I was sharing these findings with a colleague and he mentioned visiting a website on the iPad where he was forced to the mobile site and was unable to browse back to the standard site to reach the specific content he needed. I had a similar experience last Monday, while browsing the web on my iPhone using the newly installed Opera Mini for iPhone browser. Some sites I visited presented the full version even though the optimal experience would have been the mobile version.
Fortunately, neither of these issues are difficult to correct if you know the right way to identify devices and browsers. One of the most common methods of mobile device detection is to examine the User-Agent (a bit of code in the page’s http header) for attributes indicating a mobile browser.
Here’s where it gets tricky: the iPad Opera Mini User-Agent looks identical to the iPhone Opera Mini User-Agent. Sites (correctly) redirecting Opera Mini users on mobile devices to their mobile site will also be sending iPad users there.
iPhone and iPad Opera Mini User-Agent:
Opera/9.80 (iPhone; Opera Mini/5.0.0176/764; U; en) Presto/2.4.15
Give Users a Choice
While browser detection and redirection for mobile devices can be a very good thing and often yields significant increases to visitor engagement, the issues above illustrate why users should always have the option to change which version of your site they are viewing.