Mobile Device Detection Common Factor in Top Publishers


6/11/2013 4:00 PM

Mobile News

I've just received a fantastic piece of marketing from EpiServer titled "What Consumers Want From Digital News Publishers". The white paper benchmarks 12 of the UKs leading news publishers, according to the ABCs: National dailies, March 2013, against a set of criteria, including web site mobile performance, for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

According to the white paper "Speed is the most vital aspect, with 41% of mobile users expecting a fast load time on a news site. Unfortunately however, 49% cited slow loading times as the most common problem they encounter when browsing on mobile". Here at 51Degrees.mobi we couldn't agree more. Performance was therefore important to the benchmark criteria.

I want to find out if there are common techniques used by the top ranked news publishers to deliver optimum mobile experiences. I used Google to search for the publication and load the top page Google returned. I measured the results for both iOS and a standard Chrome desktop browser. The following table shows the total initial page size in kb and the number of separate HTTP requests made by the browser. Most mobile devices aren't good at fetching many more than 4 HTTP items simultaneously. I've also included the EpiServer overall ranking and finally a column indicating the technique used to improve performance on mobile if any.

Desktop iOS
News Publisher Page Size (kb) Requests Page Size (kb) Requests EpiServer Overall (%) Mobile Technique
The Guardian 2,867 224 849 51 87 Device Detection
The Independent 4,710 404 641 93 82 Device Detection
i 1,638 221 638 81 82 Device Detection
Daily Record 1,843 284 396 39 80 Device Detection
Daily Telegraph 2,355 174 424 40 79 Device Detection
Daily Mirror 2,253 220 491 49 78 Device Detection
The Sun 1,847 374 473 38 64 Device Detection
Daily Mail 6,451 464 6,451 464 49 None
Daily Express 1,331 196 1,229 68 47 None
The Times 2,560 119 2,560 119 47 None
Daily Star 1,741 260 1,536 269 44 None

Note: I'm not sure why I can't find a mobile optimised site for The Independent which stands out as scoring highly but doesn't offer an optimised mobile experience. Anyone? Looks like this was an error on my part relating to cache clearing and I've updated the table to reflect the device detection method used.

All the news publishers that offered an optimum experience to mobile users used server side device detection techniques. They averaged a massive 2.3 1.9mb reduction in initial page weight compared to their big screen counter parts.

The great news for EpiServer customers, and 18 other Content Management Systems (CMS), is that 51Degrees.mobi can deliver this server side device detection capability to your web site today. Forward thinking CMS like SiteCore, DotNetNuke, Ingenuix and Kentico have all built this support into their products.