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Desktop Vs Mobile Traffic: The Ultimate Guide

Mobile Vs Desktop traffic

The mobile revolution is upon us with billions of people using smartphones to surf the net for information daily. But, with all that massive traffic potential comes a wave of confusion and questions about desktop vs Mobile traffic.

Have you ever wondered if you need mobile traffic? What’s the difference between Desktop and mobile traffic? Or, when it comes to mobile Vs Desktop traffic, which is the most important to your website, and why?

In this article, I’ll explore these questions, and more, so by the end you can move forward with a confident understanding of desktop vs mobile traffic.

The major points we’ll cover in this article are:

  • How many more mobile users there are compared to desktop users
  • Which age groups prefer to use Mobile phones and why
  • Why desktop use still accounts for a large proportion of internet usage
  • Which type of traffic converts best, and why
  • Why the older generation still prefers desktop PCs
  • How best to take advantage of mobile internet trends

Now that you have a rough idea of the main points I’ll cover, let’s dive in… 

First, A Quick Definition of Mobile and Desktop Traffic

Before I get into the meat of the article, I want to clearly define the difference between what is consider desktop and mobile traffic.

Mobile traffic
is web surfing done using your smartphone or tablet.  

Desktop traffic is web surfing done from your home computer or laptop.

In some instances, smartphones and tablets are categorized independently by advertisers who believe users of tablets convert differently from smartphone users.

Mobile and desktop traffic has nothing to do with where the web surfing takes place.

For example, if I’m sat at a desk at home searching for products on my phone, this is still classified as mobile traffic.

And vice-versa, if I’m sitting in a coffee shop looking up the latest soccer scores on my laptop, that’s classified as desktop traffic.

Desktop and mobile traffic is device dependent not place dependent.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic: The Rise of Mobile Browsing

Mobile devices are now a central part of our everyday life.

According to a research paper published by Ofcom on our relationship with technology, the average person looks at their smartphone every 12 minutes.

People between the ages of 18-24 spend more than three and a half hours every day surfing social media using their phones. And almost half look at their smartphones within five minutes of waking up.

Our mobile devices are so powerful that they don’t just change what we do, they’re changing who we are.

Sherry Turkle – Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT

Most of our time spent on smartphones includes checking emails and browsing social media.

And this smartphone addiction is having a major impact on how businesses get web traffic.

Since 2009, when smartphones gained popularity, mobile web browsing has steadily increased as desktop web traffic has steadily declined. 

Desktop Traffic Vs Mobile Traffic: The Statistics

Currently, worldwide mobile phone traffic market share stands at 49% compared to desktop traffic at 47%. Tablets took the remaining 4% of website traffic.

Considering that tablets are deemed to be part of the ‘mobile family’, I can comfortably say mobile traffic has more than 50% market share.

A remarkable statistic given the short time mobile devices have existed.

In the UK, numbers by Statcounter , a research company that tracks internet use across 2.5 million websites, shows mobile traffic accounts for 39%. While tablet traffic amounts to 10% and desktop traffic 51%.

In the UK market, if we combine mobile and tablet traffic, they almost tie with desktop traffic.

However mobile traffic is expected to increase in the coming years particularly with the use of 5G.

Even without 5G, some markets already have more mobile traffic than desktop traffic.

In India, for example, mobile traffic makes up over 76% of all web traffic.

And 61% of people in Asia rely heavily on their mobile to access the internet. Only 37 used their desktop and 2% used tablets.

What Is Driving The Increase In Mobile Traffic?

Mobile traffic will continue to increase and surpass desktop traffic because the number of smartphone users is increasing every year worldwide.

And ease of access plays a part. Generally, it’s much easier for you to get your hands on a smartphone than on a desktop PC.

“70% of the world population will be using smartphones by 2020. With 5G, which is being trialed in several UK cities, more people will opt to browse using mobile devices to take advantage of the superfast internet speeds and reliable internet connection.”


UK research from Statista shows smartphone market penetration is set to increase from the current 50% to 54% by 2022. 

Desktop Vs Mobile: When Do We Use Them?

Desktop and mobile computing have very different use cases.

I use my mobile phone to discover quick information such as football scores or to make a quick purchase of a product that doesn’t need a lot of research.

Conversely, I use my desktop to do in-depth research on bigger purchases such as holidays or cars.

But are there certain times of day where we use either mobile or desktop more or less?

The basic usage of mobile and desktop looks something like this: 

The white line above represents our use of the internet throughout a typical working day.

Early in the morning mobile phone use dominates as commuters look to wake their brains with a Netflix fix.

As we move into the afternoon internet use increases. Unsurprisingly, it’s dominated by desktop PCs. The reason for this is simple: the vast majority of people still use a desktop or laptop in work to access the internet.

Finally, we move into the evening where internet usage peaks.

Our gadget use changes again as we move from work mode to relax mode. We pack away the laptops and pick up our mobiles.

What can we learn from this?

Well, if you’re looking to target certain platforms with adverts you’ll have a better idea what time is best to target that platform.

Want to target mobile traffic? Then only place your adds in the early morning and evening.

Want to target desktop users? Place adds throughout the day. 

Mobile vs Desktop Traffic: Time Spent On Site

Stone temple, a digital marketing excellence blog, says, “Mobile drives more traffic worldwide, but desktop users spend more time on site.”

This is because many users prefer to use their phones to get specific information and their desktops for time-consuming research.

The average person spends 4 minutes on a website when using their mobile compared to 8 minutes when on a desktop.

And I’m a good example of this phenomenon in action:

If I’m looking to quickly satisfy my curiosity I’ll flip out my phone and check for results quickly.

However, if I’m looking to do some deep-dive research, say on a new car, I prefer to sit down at my desktop, preferably with a steaming cup of coffee in hand, and settl in for a long night of info hunting.

I spend more time making decisions on my desktop PC than I do on my Mobile device.

A result of this is sales conversion rates are higher on desktop vs mobile phones. More on this later…

How Does Usage Differ Between Desktop and Mobile?

People are doing just about everything on their mobiles. They use the devices to connect with family and friends, shop, catch the latest news, entertainment and a lot more.

Research by MediaKix gives us more insight into industries that get a lot of traffic from mobile devices.

We spend many hours on social media. The top 5 social platforms – YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter – receive most of their traffic from mobile users. Only 21% of social media engagement is from a desktop.

Next to social media, research by Stone Temple shows the adult industry received the most mobile traffic in the US market.

Gambling, tech, sports, and business also received more mobile traffic than desktop traffic.

The finance, art, and entertainment categories were some of the industries that still receive more traffic on a desktop.

However, the margins of mobile traffic vs desktop traffic are usually very small. Most industries only have a 2-3% difference between mobile and desktop traffic.

Though there are some outliers…

Some industries, for example the news industry, have for the last few years received the majority of their traffic from mobile devices.

The Guardian Newspaper’s research shows tha slightly over 40% of its readers consume their news from a desktop on weekdays. This number falls to 30% on weekends.

That means 60-70% Guardian readers consume the content on a mobile device.

What is the affect of Desktop Traffic Vs. Mobile Traffic For Businesses?

Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop is a headline that has been written many times. And it’s a headline you will continue to see.

Many people no longer rely solely on the traditional computer to browse.

As a business, you need to adapt.  

This should be a wake-up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile-friendly. Many older websites are not. Mobile compatibility is increasingly important not just because of growing traffic but because Google favors mobile-friendly websites for its mobile search results. That means that if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will soon see a decrease in search engine rankings.

Aodhan Cullen – CEO StatCounter

Internet users prefer contacting a business using social media and mobile messaging over writing emails or making calls.

Therefore it’s vital you have social media and mobile messaging options available so customers can contact you how, when, and where they prefer.

Quick Tips: 5 Tips To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly Now

More than half of mobile users say they will not return to a website if it fails to load properly on their device. This statistic should send you scrambling to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Otherwise, you could be losing traffic.

You can find out if your website is mobile-friendly by simply visiting your site from a smartphone.

Does it look like a scaled-down hard to read version of your desktop page?

If yes, then you need to take action.

Here are five ways to help create a mobile-friendly site:  

1: Mobile-Optimized Web Design.

This type of website gives visitors to your site the same content on their mobile phone as on your desktop.

The difference is, you’ve optimised your desktop site to work just as well on a small screen.

The advantages of Mobile optimization is it takes a lot less work than creating a dedicated mobile or responsive site.

The problem is, optimization is slowly being viewed as not being good enough because your trying to create a ‘good at everything but master of none’ website.

However, it is better than doing nothing and basic mobile optimimization is a good first step in making your website mobile friendly. 

2: Dedicated Mobile Site. 

A separate designed mobile version of your main website can live on a subdomain of your main site.

With such a site you can control and give users a custom designed mobile experience.

Unfortunately, separate URLs for mobile and desktop sites can make link development difficult.

Additionally, this method is looked at less favourable by Google. 

3: Use A Conversion Platform

The fastest way to make your current website mobile friendly is to use a conversion platform like DudaMobile to create a mobile version of your desktop site.

Doing this, however, will mean you have two websites: one mobile and one desktop.

Updating both sites can be difficult and users will not be impressed if one site has more information then the other.

4: Use Mobile Ready Plugins

By using mobile plugins on content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla you can very quickly make your desktop website mobile friendly.

Creating a mobile-friendly version of your site this way will mean you don’t have two sites.

You can focus all your energy on the one site.

Some CMS platforms have additional features that allow you to incorporate items that will give users the best mobile experience.

If you’re using WordPress, try using WPtouch or Jetpack plugins to create your mobile site.

5: Use Responsive Web Design Practices

Responsive web design is different from a mobile-optimized design.

A Optimised design means the website hasn’t been perpusfully built for mobile, but it has been optimised so that mobile users find the site easier to use.

However, responsive design is now overtaking basic optimisation.

A responsive website is designed to resize itself, and elements on the page, depending on what device is being used. So the page will, in real-time, re-organize itself depending on what device the page is being viewed on.

Mobile Traffic’s Taking over. Or Is It?

This article has shown us that in the Desktop Vs Mobile traffic battle, Mobile phone traffic is starting to win.

However, that doesn’t mean you should shun the desktop user. They still make up large proportion of your traffic and will for the forseeable future.

But there’s a far more important reason to continue to target the desktop user…

Desktop traffic has a higher conversion rate than mobile traffic.

In fact, desktop traffic coverts nearly 2X better than mobile traffic.

So you only need half the desktop traffic to make the same amount of money as from mobile traffic.

Research on the subject has found 37% of mobile users used their device to check product reviews and prices while out-and-about, but preferred to use their desktop to make the purchase.

On top of this, desktop users engage more fully with websites, and for longer. The average desktop user will spend 2-5 times longer on a website.

Also, the older generation is helping the desktop fight off the smartphone in the Mobile vs Desktop traffic war.

The older generation, age 54 and up, prefers desktop computers to browse the internet. 

Why does My Website Get No Mobile Traffic? 

This is a question I have seen on many public forums like Reddit.

The answers to this could be as simple as not using a mobile-friendly website.

If you have a mobile website, and traffic is still low, other factors could be in play.

The industry you operate in could, for example, get most of its website traffic from desktops: the finance industry has consistently shown that only 40% of visitors come from a mobile device.

This is largely because many people prefer to manage their finance from the comfort and security of their desktop.

Also, look at competitor websites and do some research.

If your competitor’s average mobile visitors percetage is 70% and you get 20% you likely have a problem.

Find out what they are doing differently to you and try to implement it on your own website  


Both mobile and desktop traffic are important for any business. Each has its pros and cons and focusing on one over the other, for now, would be a mistake.

Going forward, eventually, mobile traffic will overtake desktop traffic globally and you should be prepared.

Let’s take a moment to look at the key points from this article:

  • There are 4X more mobile users than there are desktop users so it’s vital to optimize your website for mobile use
  • The vast majority of 18-24-year-olds do all their web browsing on mobile. But they still prefer to make big purchases on desktop
  • Desktop Traffic makes approximately 50% of all traffic on average
  • Desktop traffic converts 2X better than Mobile traffic so you need less Desktop traffic than mobile to make the same amount of money
  • People over the age of 55 prefer Desktop PCs as they are deemed more convenient and secure.
  • A Good mixture of Desktop and Mobile traffic is best for now.
  • Mobile use is set to grow even more as mobile phones and tablets become even more powerful and larger.
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