- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On February 8, 2016
- Mobile marketing
We’ve been doing some work recently on our next generation of digital magazines (more about that soon). It’s an interesting project as we’re trying to do things that push the “technology envelope.”
Last week as I was working on this project when a fundamental question struck me: “How do people actually read a magazine on their iPad anyway?”
If you’re involved in any kind of content marketing or app building this is an important question. You can’t really provide a great user experience if you don’t know how people view your content.
Being the data-driven engineer that I am, I could not just let this question go. I needed to find some quantitative research. This is what I found.
My research uncovered several studies that examined how people use their smartphones and tablets. Some of the findings are quite intuitive, some are not.
Where are your readers?
One of the first studies I found looked at where readers are when they view your content.
The graph below from the eLearning Guild shows that the two most popular places to use devices are at the office and at home. This is interesting as this is a study of mobile device usage and yet the two most popular places are where we could easily use a laptop.
The second chart below shows what physical posture we are in when using our mobile devices. The larger the device, the more likely we are to be sitting rather than standing. The chart shows that more than 80% of phone usage happens when we are standing.
The third chart below shows that as our mobile devices get bigger and bulkier we may put them on a table or in a stand rather than hold them in our hands.
Which way do your readers hold their devices?
Here’s some data on the main point I have been wrestling with, which way do people actually hold their mobile devices–horizontally or vertically?
The first set of research comes from Max Woolf. He looked at the Google Analytics data from his own site and found that the majority of his visitors use their phones and tablets in portrait mode.
Here’s a different chart on the same topic from the eLearning Guild. You can see from their field-based observations that 60% of phone and tablet users use their devices in portrait mode.
So it looks like the answer to my question is that people use their tablets in portrait mode (I knew it!)
But wait here’s some data from Onswipe that says that 60% of users use their iPads in landscape mode!
Let’s clear this up!
I don’t like it when the research is contradictory. When that happens I have to keep digging. So I kept researching. Do people hold their tablets horizontally or vertically?
Then I found some data from Thomas Park. Thomas looked at the way iPad apps are designed.
As you can see from the chart below he found that 59% of apps are designed to work only in landscape mode and 21% are designed to work only in portrait mode, leaving 20% of apps that work in both orientations.
Thomas went on to see if apps in different categories are designed to work only in landscape mode, portrait mode or both. As you can see below, most games are designed only for landscape mode and most newsstand publications only for portrait. Health and fitness and lifestyle apps are a mixed bag.
Mobile chickens and eggs
The way people use their iPads and iPhones is going to have quite a lot to do with how the available apps are built.
If an app only works in landscape mode (Netflix for example) then you’re going to have to use your iPad in landscape mode. If an app only works in portrait mode, then you will use your device in portrait mode.
So how much do developers really research which orientation people want before they develop their app? Do people easily adapt to whatever orientation is presented to them without any concerns? It seems there’s a chicken and egg situation going on with the way we use our mobile devices.
What do you think? Which orientation (landscape or portrait) should magazines be presented in on an iPad? Does it matter or should we just pick one from a hat and get on with it?