Why do we prefer larger devices for important tasks?


Since smartphones were introduced into our lives back in 2007 with the first iPhone, more of us depend on them to get on with everyday tasks in life. We have written about how mobile devices are almost taking over from computer usage; however a study has found that we are more likely to want to complete an important task on a desktop computer or laptop over a smartphone or tablet.

The study used data from 50 respondents who kept a diary of what they did online throughout the day. This came to a grand total of 492 records of internet activity.

Looking at the data, the study found that tasks that people considered to be more important were completed on a computer more often than on a mobile phone. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the task is not supported on mobile devices or that the task involves lots of details, such as filling out a complex form which users find easier to complete on a larger screen.

The results highlight that although certain activities were found to be easier to complete on a mobile device (such as online banking or shopping), users were still more likely to use a PC for tasks they considered more complex. This highlights the importance of ensuring that your website is easy to use on a mobile device, even where you may have more complicated functionality, to avoid the user being put off due as a result of a poor experience.

Even though smartphones offer far larger screens and are far more powerful than they were back in 2007 (in some cases with over 30 times as much RAM), it would appear that people are still inclined to complete important tasks on a larger device, despite the abundance of mobile-friendly website and specialist mobile apps (such as for mobile banking). Many people will start an important job on their phone, such a filling out a form, only to discover it is far more intensive than they first thought and will often complete the task later on a larger device with a faster input method such as a PC or laptop with a keyboard.

If you run a business providing services of high importance (such as healthcare or financial services), it may be a good idea to check your website analytics to see how many of your users view your business through mobile or desktop device. This will allow you to analyse the kind of device your visitors are more likely to use to access your website and to improve on any areas you feel are reducing the quality of the experience at different screen sizes.

By ensuring that even complex tasks can be completed with the least amount of friction on a mobile device, may result in your website being more successful by appealing to users that would normally lose interest or wait till they have access to a PC or laptop to complete a task.

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