Smartphones and skateboarding dogs - why they matter to BIS

Recently I was at Google's London HQ in Soho for an event called Digital Citizen 2013 organised by the Government Communications Network (GCN).

Google Offices, London (credit: Martin Varsavsky/CC BY 2.0)

As you might expect there was some slightly wacky stuff involved: doors designed to look like they came from the yellow submarine; funky retro furniture in the break out area; even a YouTube video of a skateboarding dog!

But beneath the seeming frivolity the presenters from Google and You Tube had a steely focus on the facts and figures about how people in the UK are using the Internet in 2013:-

• 79% of UK population are online
• 75% get their news online
• 60% use internet banking
• 38% interact with government online
• plus the UK leads the world in online shopping

Increased internet usage is partly being driven by:-

• increasing broadband speeds
• increasing use of the internet on mobile devices such as smartphones (iPhone or similar) and tablets (iPad or similar).

I was particularly struck by the statistics about the use of smartphones and tablets. Mobile devices already account for:-

• 1 in 5 searches on Google
• 1 in 3 You Tubes views

65% of people start their online interaction with organisations on a smartphone/tablet then complete their transaction (or read further information) on a laptop/PC. By the end of the 2013:-

• 75% of UK population will have a smartphone
• 20% of UK population will have a tablet

Looking round my fellow commuters on my journey home from the event these figures were borne out by my own observation.

A few ideas about what this means for BIS.

The way that businesses and citizens access information and services on the internet is changing and the pace of change shows no sign of slowing down. We need to be aware of these changing trends as we create online communications and services.

We can learn a lot from data and metrics about what people actually do online that can help us create better communications and services.

People’s expectations of online communications and services are increasing and we need to be aware of what is happening in the wider marketplace in which our digital activity takes place.

The increased use of mobile devices means that the imperative to write short, clear and compelling content is even greater than before.

Of course there are challenges for government information - like providing complex regulatory information in way that works across different devices without becoming so simple as to be meaningless. Perhaps this is one area where the customer journey will start on a mobile device and end on laptop/PC for the detail.

Apparently GOV.UK  is already doing really well at making its content suitable for mobile devices with a score of scored 5 out of 6 on Google scale of mobile friendliness.

Featured image by Martin Varsavsky on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

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