The team behind the U.S. Web Design Standards (the Standards) held their first Ask Me Anything (AMA), in August, to answer questions from their public Slack channel community. There was great excitement in the channel leading up to the chat, and more than 40 new people joined the already robust community of federal, state and local government, higher education, industry, nonprofit, and U.K. and Canada government officials that are interested in working with–and growing–the Standards.
The Pew Internet and the American Life Project released a report recently that analyzed the use of digital tools for different groups of tech literacies and found some interesting ‘digital divides’ and levels of trust, usage, and skill. The report broke out 5 personas of the American people: Digitally Ready (17 percent of U.S. Adults) are the ardent digital learners confident in online information Cautious Clickers (31 percent of U.
Trends on Tuesdays: Mobile Phone Camera Upgrades Offer Interesting Opportunities for Government Agencies
Professional photographer and early “iPhonography” pioneer, Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” The recent jumps in mobile phone photo technology presents interesting opportunities for government agencies to consider as mobile phone cameras are starting to rival and surpass professional gear. When Google and Apple both announced their annual flagship phone upgrades this past month, the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, the most talked about and touted features were the cameras.
The seemingly sci-fi world envisioned in the movie Her is very close to becoming our reality. Several new developments merging hardware, artificial intelligence technology, chatbots and persistent audio assistants are now available, with software developer kits to expand the platforms. Amazon was first to market with their Echo device, and since have added the Echo Dot, both using their voice assistant “Alexa” to allow users to play music, buy goods from Amazon, call for a cab, check the weather and other tasks—all just using their voice commands.
The wildly popular, augmented reality game we reported on for Trends on Tuesday a few weeks ago and the focus of a piece about government agencies using it to engage citizens appears to have hit a ceiling and is slowly losing active fans in August according to a recent report in Bloomberg. While the mobile game may be losing audience, from a brand perspective Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise was reinvigorated for a new generation of fans which will pay dividends in the future.
This spring, the eRegulations Notice & Comment team began building out a new feature set for the platform — adding the ability for agencies with proposed regulations to show the public more precisely the changes being proposed and allow agencies to receive more granular, contextual, and better-organized comments. One of the challenges we wrestled with was how to share our work out frequently and openly with the dozens of interested parties, while not making that a blocker in focusing on our work of doing many demos for the many different parties interested in and informing our work.
The Pew Research Center released a report in July that shows people of Latino descent are heavily reliant on mobile phones for their Internet access, more than other ethnicities. The report said that since 2012, the percentage of Hispanic adults who used mobile devices to access the Internet jumped from 76% to 94% in 2015. These percentages are higher than both white and African American usage in the same years.
Augmented Reality games have existed for years, but have mostly failed to catch a mainstream audience; Pokémon Go just changed all that this weekend. The game that launched early this month has exploded in popularity and is close to surpassing Twitter in daily active users, according to Forbes’ Jason Evangelho. “The data gets even more staggering. As of 48 hours ago, Pokémon GO was installed on 5.6% of all Android devices in the United States, and is installed on more Android phones than Tinder (insert “Pokémon is now more popular than sex” joke here),” he cited.
International telecommunications network operator, Ericsson, released their Mobility Report around the future of mobile recently with a bunch of interesting data around the future of telecommunications and mobile. The surprise star of the report is not mobile phones though—although it will continue to grow, especially in emerging markets where it hasn’t reached saturation like it has in the U.S.—it’s the Internet Of Things (IoT), which is projected to surpass mobile phones by 2018 according to Ericsson.
Internet strategist Mary Meeker delivered her 2016 Internet Trends report this month, and there are several key takeaways for government agencies to consider and continue tracking as our connected world continues to evolve: Mobile phone adoption and Internet growth is meeting saturation. Incremental global growth will continue (especially in India, which she called out for their wild expansion) but especially for Americans, most people that want to be on the Internet can be on the Internet.
Last week, Recode published an articlefocused on a recent report from industry consultant Chetan Sharma that found the largest number of new mobile activations in the first quarter of 2016 came from a ‘different’ kind of mobile tool—cars. There are still a lot of phone and tablet mobile activations happening—31% and 23% of all activations, respectively—but for the first time, cars edged out the smaller mobile devices with 32% of new cellular activations.
Flurry Analytics, a mobile application analytics company owned by Yahoo!, released a new report about app retention. Unless your app usage is around “gambling”—with cards (game apps), with your money (finance apps), with whether or not to bring an umbrella (weather apps), or with your health (fitness apps)—user retention and re-engagement is often a steep wall to climb. The research shows that top trends across Android and Apple apps are similar, but Android users appear to be a little more choosey when it comes to re-using an app: after 30 days, Android app retention clusters around 10%, compared to 14% for Apple.
ComScore released a report with a lot of great data about how mobile digital media usage continues to explode in 2016. It has 70 pages of charts and information to digest. Here are seven key mobile trends and takeaways: Smartphones are exponentially driving digital media usage.** ** Digital media has tripled since 2013 and digital media use is being driven heavily by smartphones—up by 78% since 2013.
Last year Google began changing their search ranking algorithm to direct mobile users to mobile-friendly sites, and they recently announced that beginning in May they will be implementing an update to focus even more exclusively on boosting mobile-friendly sites. In the announcement, Google encourages website owners to test their sites using the Mobile-Friendly Test and Webmaster Mobile Guide, to learn how to improve your site for mobile friendliness. Previously we’ve covered how to prepare for “Mobilegeddon” (an industry term for the Google mobile-friendly shift) for government agencies.
A new report about email usage reinforced the importance of always building responsive websites. Yesmail’s quarterly report showed that mobile and desktop email click-to-open rates are converging to almost the same level for the first time ever. As people become more mobile-first and mobile-only users of the Internet, users opening emails on their desktop devices has dropped continuously for the past 2 years, from 22.6% to 15.3%. The report from Yesmail states: “The results certainly support the argument for responsive design,” as those who used responsive design in all of their emails had:
Comscore released new data this month about trends in the smartphone space. The data showed that the Android platform grew in market percentage (when combining all Android manufacturers). Android overall grew 1% from September to December at the cost of Apple and Blackberry, which dropped 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively, in smartphone market share. Comscore’s data on the most popular mobile applications showed Facebook and Google properties continue to dominate usage, with the top seven spots owned by the two corporation’s app properties.
John Connor can’t save you. Robots are here to take over the world. Two interesting new consumer mobile and digital content experiences were launched in the past week, signaling some of the first mainstream brands embracing this new paradigm of interactive, bot-driven content experiences: Quartz’s News App and The New York Times Election Slack Bot. Both leverage different scripted technology but signal that large consumer-facing brands are using messaging technology as an experience and interface for interacting and sending and receiving information smartly.
Google Product Director and author, Luke Wroblewski, wrote a piece about how perfecting your Day 1 experience for users is critical because retention after that point is incredibly difficult. Wroblewski said that 25% of native mobile apps are abandoned after their first use and that the number of active users drops 77% in the first three days after installation. To combat that drop off, he suggested focusing on your onboarding and the user’s first experience with the app through things like gradual sign-ups, since many people will turn off completely when they hit that wall.
__Phablets, once mocked for their large size, may be the next big form factor dominating mobile devices, if new data from the holiday season is any indication. Flurry Mobile, part of Yahoo’s mobile analytics division, published two reports about phablet devices at the beginning of the new year, showing their continued growth and that people use them more than traditional or smaller mobile devices. The percentage of new phablet-sized phone activations during the 2014-2015 holiday period more than doubled to 27% from 13%.
As we move into 2016, here are 10 trends I foresee flourishing around mobile, technology and government: The mobile-majority tipping point in government. Many agencies are already past this point, but as a whole, government websites are still desktop-majority, with 66% of people accessing federal websites via desktop and 34% on mobile. In 2016, the double-digit mobile growth will continue to accelerate and surpass 50% for almost all agencies. (Much of the Web passed this point last year or in 2014, btw).
The Pew Research Center released an interesting report about home Internet usage that revealed broadband usage plateaued in 2013 and, in fact, dropped 3% in 2015. Later in the report, Pew states the growth in mobile-only audiences compensated for the drop in home broadband usage, so the overall number of people with Internet access hasn’t changed significantly. While 100% home broadband penetration may never be attainable for a number of reasons, Pew’s research found cost is the major reason for most people, cited by 43% of non-broadband users.
U.S. shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices to make purchases during the busiest shopping days: Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. According to Custora, online Black Friday sales rose more than 16% compared to last year, and smartphone use rose to more than 36% (up from 30% last year), with iPhones accounting for the lion’s share of purchases: 77.6%, compared to 22.1% for Android. The Apple iOS purchase dominance was cited by other reports too.
Half a decade since Steve Jobs declared war on Adobe Flash and refused to support it on Apple’s mobile and tablet devices, Flash is finally losing its crown as one of the stand-alone products of Adobe. In the announcement, Adobe said, “Flash has played a leading role in bringing new capabilities to the Web. From audio and animation, to interactivity and video, Flash has helped push the Web forward.
Mobile users of government websites are growing in double digit percentages and will likely soon become the majority. For some recent internal project research, I dove into some of the federal government-wide analytics looking at mobile usage and found a few interesting tidbits to share: It’s an OS battle of the As. Apple devices slightly edge out Android as the most popular with 49.24% to 44.88% of the audience. There’s no realistic third contender.
Pew released a recent report tracking trends in digital device ownership and found smartphones and tablets have continued to grow in recent years, while other devices have stalled. The big headlines from the report are: Cell phones are now in the hands of more than 92% of U.S. adults, although this trend started to flatten over the past 3 years. That elusive final 8% of U.S. adults might take a while to adopt (or die off, as adults over 65 were the smallest percentage of smartphone users at just 30% of that population, while 78% of them have a cell phone of some sort).
Josh Clark, one of the pioneers of touch Web design, and author of Tapworthy and Designing for Touch, published an excellent article on A List Apart analyzing How We Hold Our Gadgetsthat has a wealth of data and graphics about this interesting and emerging design challenge. Below are 5 notable lessons from the post: 1. Portrait (vertical) orientation dominates over landscape (horizontal) usage with a 60-40 split. This is often driven by the app or content experience and will probably continue to grow more divided as many applications now aren’t even offering landscape orientations anymore—including Facebook, Flipboard, Instagram, Pandora, even Netflix (on Android, however, along with video playback, Netflix’s library browsing mode can still be viewed horizontally).
An industry group tracking the growth and production of the “Internet of Things,” a term given to Internet-connected devices and accessories, is predicting that growth will slow over the next 6 months, but then surge 3 times as fast, over the following year. The research was organized by the IoT M2M Council, which is made up of 140 executives in the Internet of Things space. MediaPost described it as “the calm before the IoT storm.
ComScore released a new 2015 U.S. Mobile App report tracking native mobile app usage among adults over 18 years old, and it reinforced a lot of the trends we’ve been reporting on DigitalGov. Quartz succinctly summarized the reportwith the headline: “You really only use three apps on your phone.” The report clearly pointed out that Americans spend 50% of their time in their most-used app, and 78% in their top three favorite apps.
The New York Times recently published a report evaluating the cost of mobile ads on news websites and found that on many of the major sites, the ads were taking as much bandwidth and time as the content (if not more, in some cases). This comes after the recent hubub over Apple starting to allow ad blockers on their mobile operating system to cut down on aggressive, high-bandwidth consuming ads, analytics, and tracking software that slows down the mobile experience for users.
Yahoo’s mobile analytics service, Flurry, released a new and provocative report about mobile apps versus mobile browser usage, in which they found audiences are spending almost an hour more with their mobile phones than last year. They also discussed the importance of how “content is king” in mobile apps. The top mobile app categories included mobile messaging/social applications, entertainment, and games, which is nothing new; these continue to reign as the most popular among users as repeat research from different sources continues to prove this.
Benedict Evans, a leading mobile analyst with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, published a provocative post last week about the death of the mobile Internet. He details the history of the mobile Web and posits that the mobile Internet is the Internet now. The desktop version of the Internet audience is smaller and declining, so organizations should focus resources on developing the mobile-optimized version first.
Google has announced a second wave of ‘Mobilegeddon’ search penalties for websites using mobile app install interstitials. Beginning November 1st, mobile app Web pages that use large app install interstitials to hide content from the users will be downgraded in search results for not being mobile-friendly. These are the kind of pop-ups you get when you land on a website for the first time and it immediately prompts you to install their app before you see or experience any content A smarter strategy for this kind of prompt would be to set a tracking cookie and only prompt users that have come back multiple times to the website or base the prompt on a longer period of time or number of pageviews into a visit before you prompt users—not before they even get to see the website.
On DigitalGov, we frequently talk about some of the most popular app experiences, and research almost always shows that mobile messaging and social apps are the most frequently used. Pew Research released a new report specifically about these wildly popular channels for mobile engagement, specifically focused on how youth use them, with some interesting results that government agencies should pay attention to for their digital strategies. The report author, Maeve Duggan, said, “The results in this report reflect the noteworthy and rapid emergence of different kinds of communications tools serving different social needs.
This August, Aaron Gustafson, Web Standards Advocate at Microsoft, industry thought leader and speaker, and an author who wrote a leading book on adaptive web design, spoke to the government tech community at the U.S. General Services Administration and provided many magnificent insights into mobile strategy, design and tech development for reaching the widest audience possible across devices. Gustafson’s insights are especially important and impactful for government agencies because he focuses on the full-gamut of technologies audiences use—not just the latest mobile phones, OSes and apps—so his work and perspective can help inform government agencies on how to grapple with the technology needs of very diverse constituencies.
Yahoo’s mobile analytics division, Flurry, released an interesting report, in July, comparing mobile usage among three distinct types of users around the world based on how frequently they launch mobile applications each day: Regular Users, Super Users and Mobile Addicts. According to Flurry, of the 1.855 billion total mobile app users in the world: 985 million people or 53% are Regular Users 590 million people or 32% are Super Users 280 million people or 15% are Mobile Addicts Each of these categories grew at least 26%, or more, compared to 2014, with Mobile Addicts’ growth exploding to 59% in a year-over-year comparison.
Adobe released its quarterly Adobe Digital Index report this month, which showed websites that aren’t mobile optimized are seeing more than double-digit drops in traffic from Google’s organic search referrals. This is after the leading search engine announced it would start penalizing websites, after April 21st, that weren’t optimized for mobile—also called “Mobilegeddon.” Microsoft’s Bing search engine also made a similar announcement, indicating that mobile-optimized sites would receive special benefits in its search results.
David Morell, a software engineer with Google, posted an interesting case study from the tech giant, sharing data about how users interacted with interstitials (ie webpages displayed before or after an expected content page) on their website. Their analysis showed that 69% of users completely abandoned the page and their original intent after being shown an interstitial. Interstitials take many forms on the Web—native app installation prompts, advertisements, survey opt-in requests (popular on some government sites), email sign-up forms, etc.
In July, comScore released a research paper, The Global Mobile Report: How Multi-Platform Audiences & Engagement Compare in the U.S., Canada, UK and Beyond, covering a lot of areas from smartphone penetration to Android vs. Apple preferences. The most impactful trend for government agencies might be best communicated through this graphic: In the U.S., tablets and smartphones are driving the majority of digital media usage for 18-to 54-year-olds. People 55 and older are on the cusp of breaking the 50% barrier for mobile and tablet usage.
England’s Government Digital Service (similar to our own U.S. Digital Services and 18F) did a study of how content on their websites is consumed on mobile and non-mobile devices and learned several key points for a future-focused and mobile-friendly government organization: Mobile platforms account for the lion’s share of most of their content (see their graphic above), so being mobile-first and at least mobile-optimized is mandatory. More intense, complex tasks are still frequently started on desktops, but young and less affluent users expect to be able to do them on their smartphone.
Millennial Media released a new research report, Connected Consumers: Gaining Insights Across Screens, examining U.S. digital audiences from January 2014 until January 2015 with some interesting information that reinforces trends we’ve covered before. If your users fall into these demographics, you need to mobilize the content they’re accessing on mobile devices. Mobile and Tablet Devices Account for Majority of Time If your audience is predominantly under 55 years old, you must be mobile-friendly because more than 60% of that audience’s digital consumption time is spent on mobile and tablet devices.
Analytics company, Localytics, released a new report about mobile app retention rates from the past 4 years that agencies should heed when considering their needs for building native mobile apps, compared to mobile-friendly websites. In the U.S. the number of users that re-engage more than once after installing is pretty low, with 19% of American users abandoning after just one use. The number of “regular” users who have opened the app more than 10 times is also low—42% in 2015, but that is trending upward from 41% in 2014 and 35% in 2013.
Silicon Valley analyst Mary Meeker’s annual 2015 Internet Trends report has been released and is an exhaustive analysis of the world’s digital evolution (often mobile first driven) and how it is affecting business, culture and information. Previous years’ reports have tracked emerging tech from mobile to 3D printing, and this year is no different. Here are some of the key highlights from the report for government agencies and mobile-focused people:
Mobile device penetration is growing, with larger screens providing more real-estate for content and users completing more complex tasks over longer periods of engagement. However, the new wave of digital screens on watches and wearables is requiring organizations to consider how to build smaller, faster and simpler interfaces to prepare for “glanceable moments.” Ted Schadler from Forrester Research provided the following explanation: “here’s a rule of thumb: people will stare at a desktop screen for 3 minutes.
In April, comScore released new mobile data, and it pointed to the continuing growth of smartphones as the dominant mobile platform, especially in the United States, with almost a 77% smartphone penetration. Android and Apple continue to dominate the operating system market share with 52.8% and 41.7%, respectively. The report said that “186.3 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (76.6% mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in February, up 5% since November.
The drum beat of the continuing and quick cultural shift to mobile device dominance continues to grow—Google announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than desktops in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. These searches are often driven by ‘need-to-know’ information or utility-based actions (rather than entertainment or more passive consumption), which aligns with a lot of the information and resources government agencies provide on their digital properties.
Consumers are buying less tablets and more phablets, especially in the U.S. Three recent research reports released in the past week from IDC, Flurry and Kantar each point to a shift in consumer purchasing habits over the past quarter, showing that consumers are reducing the number of tablet devices purchased with an increase in “phablet” or large 5-inch sized phones increasing. “Phablets claimed 21% of all U.S. smartphone sales in Q1 2015 – nearly quadrupling their 6% share from the first quarter of 2014,” Katar WorldPanel’s report cites.
Just a week after the ‘Mobilegeddon’ shift in Google search engine rankings to favor mobile-friendly sites, comScore released a research report citing that the U.S. had reached a new inflection point—there are now more mobile-only Internet users than desktop-only. What’s even more interesting is the drop desktop-only usage has taken over the past one-year period. comScore sites: Just a year ago, there was still nearly twice the percentage of desktop-only internet users (19.
Mobile video is starting to hit its second wave for both consumption and creation, and government agencies can prepare now to ride this new channel for mobile and social engagement. Fueled by mobile bandwidth and cellular stability steadily increasing and consumers’ comfort with larger mobile devices fueling more video watching on mobile, a plethora of social apps now allow you to live stream and watch on mobile devices.
The Pew Research Center released a deep research dive into “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015” that provided three big ideas and data points for government agencies to consider when planning their digital strategies. More than 2/3 of Americans have smartphones; many of those are mobile first or mobile only Internet users. The report detailed that 6 in 10 Americans own a smartphone (64%), and 2 in 10 Americans now access the Internet primarily through their mobile phone (25%).
Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile infrastructure, software, hardware, product and app show, took place in Barcelona, Spain, and I attended for the fifth time. This year’s show shattered previous records with more than 93,000 attendees across all the areas that mobile touches. Here are a few notable trends and topics that I came away with and what government agencies should learn from them: Phone Sizes One notable trend (or slowing of an explosive trend) was the size of mobile devices seems to have stabilized—for now.
One of the leading mobile app analytics companies, Flurry, released their annual mobile app growth report with some interesting data showing how audiences are changing the way they engage with mobile applications. Overall, mobile app usage grew 76% in 2014, and the top app categories included: “Lifestyle & Shopping,” growing 174%; “Utilities & Productivity,” growing 121%; “Messaging & Social,” growing 89%; and “Health & Fitness” and “Travel” categories, both growing 89% year over year.