Higher Ed Mobile Traffic Revisited


Higher Ed Mobile Traffic Revisited

Feb 06, 2013By Greg Zguta

Last June, I blogged about mobile traffic trends in higher education. Throughout the year there was a lot of discussion and energy around mobile and responsive web design. I mentioned that I would keep an eye on the trends in higher ed mobile web traffic and I’m back with an update.

In May 2012, my sampling of 17 higher education websites showed 9.82% of visits coming from mobile devices.  This came from looking at Google Analytics reports around mobile audience (which includes tablets) and comparing mobile visits with the total visits for the month.  The averages I reported are weighted, so higher traffic sites influence the average more than lower traffic sites.

I expanded the scope of the data to include 29 institutions for January 2013.  This includes nearly 12 million web visits across 29 websites for the month.  The websites tracked include large universities, liberal arts colleges, school or college websites within a university, community colleges and independent secondary schools.

Here are some highlights:

  • Mobile traffic represented 13.37% of all traffic to these sites.
  • In the 8 months since the last review of this data, mobile traffic increased by 41%.
  • The site with the lowest percentage of mobile traffic was a school website within a university with 4.62%.
  • The highest percentage of mobile traffic was nearly 27% of visits.
  • Only 5 of the 29 institutions had less than 10% of their web visits coming from mobile.

One interesting trend was the relatively high percentages of mobile traffic on higher traffic sites at larger universities.  Though the sample sizes for these groups vary, I thought it would be interesting to break things down by the type of institution website:

  • Universities (14 sampled) — 13.51%
  • Independent secondary schools (2 sampled) — 13.25%
  • School/College within a university (7 sampled) — 13.25%
  • Liberal arts colleges (5 sampled) — 11.69%

The fact that 14 universities lead the way with 13.51% of traffic coming from mobile is attributable to the sheer volume of web traffic in this category, along with the number of institutions of this type sampled. A few large public institutions are well above this average and as high as 19.5% of traffic coming from mobile! But the spread between these different types of institutions isn’t very big on average, so it’s pretty clear that the trend is across the board.

Looking at visits to undergraduate admissions for 7 of these 29 sites, we find mobile traffic to this area is consistently higher than the website as a whole. Undergraduate admissions pages averaged 18.12% mobile traffic.  This number is 36% higher than the mobile traffic to the website as a whole. Admissions mobile traffic was as high as 25% of all web traffic at one institution!

Overall, the trend in mobile traffic growth continues in higher education.  While there is some disparity in how much traffic institutions received, every one of the 29 we examined had increases from May 2012 to January 2013.

I’d love to hear from others examining mobile traffic at their institutions and what observations you are making.  I look forward to exploring this further in 2013.

  • Greg Zguta Director of Client Support I've been working on education web projects since the late 90's and enjoy visiting campuses and watching how technology has transformed higher education since I got my first email account at Oberlin College in 1992. Back then, I mostly used the web to check weather radar and sports scores . . . I suppose technology hasn't transformed everything yet.