Following the previous post that looked at traffic stats a year on from the launch of our new website, this post delves further into our analytics with a focus on the devices and operating systems most commonly used to access the site. There’s also some interesting insights into how specific services on the site are accessed, as well as the way the time of day influences these metrics.

Device trends

Perhaps unsurpisingly, tfl.gov.uk now receives more than half of its traffic (54%) from mobile phones. This is up from 44% in May 2014, when PCs and laptops still accounted for the bulk of visits, albeit marginally with 45%.

As the graph below shows, mobile phones overtook PCs in August of last year and have steadily increased their share ever since. At these rates of growth, the forecast is for at least 62% of our traffic coming from mobiles by this time next year.

Interestingly, tablets haven’t shared the same growth as mobiles, and visits from these devices have actually been slowing down. Their share of visits has declined from a peak of 11.2% in June & August 2014, to a low of 9.6% in April 2015.

Devices used to access the TfL site

Mobile phone access overtook PCs last August, and has increased ever since


Our services

The picture becomes more interesting when looking at the digital services on our website individually.

Journey Planner and Status Updates pages account for the bulk of our traffic, helping to set the overall average with 53% of their visits coming from mobile phones.

However, for our Stations Stops and Piers content, 73% of visits in April 2015 were made by mobile phones.

Other parts of the site favour desktop traffic, and this may be due to the non ‘real-time’ nature of the content. For example the Consultations pages (26% mobile), Fares and Payments pages (30%), the Oyster subdomain (35% mobile) and Santander Cycles section (47%).

Time of day

As you would expect, the time of day also massively affects the proportion of traffic we receive from different devices. During the week, mobile phone traffic peaks between 7-8am at 70% of visits. At the weekend, 2am on Saturday sees as much as 74% of all visits coming from mobiles.

The pattern of device usage is very pronounced across the working week, with mobile devices dominating all morning and from 6pm, and PCs accounting for the lion’s share of traffic from 10am-5pm.

These patterns are changing, however, as mobile continues to catch up. In April 2014, working day PC traffic peaked at around 64% of all visits, but by March 2015 it was 10% less than that.

Monday’s 7-8am rush hour peak for mobile phone traffic has increased 10% in the same period, going from 60 to 70%. This may be partly due to the increase in use of the Stations Stops and Piers pages over the past year.

Operating Systems

So which operating systems are these phones running on? When looking at the level of all the unique browsers that visit our site, iOS has always been king.

In the past year it’s share has remained a steady 67%, with Android accounting for 30% of unique browsers (up 0.5% since April 2014) with Windows phones the next in line at 2%.

Windows phones have replaced RIM in third place, doubling its share in the past 12 months whilst RIM has fallen from 2.4% to 0.9%.

Our users don’t reflect the rest of the UK, where sales figures for March 2015 are split 38% iOS, 53% Android and 8% Windows Phone. However since the launch of iPhone 6, iOS has seen its share rise from 32% a year ago (Kantar World Panel), fuelled by switchers from Android.

 

Posted by Stephen Irvine

Stephen is the Community Manager and Digital Blog editor for Transport for London

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the TFL stats.
    Peak visits (70%) during 7-8 am is a stat that clearly indicates that a large number of people use TFL while leaving for work.
    Stephen, it would be great if you can share some stats about percentage of people visiting the taxis and minicabs page of TFL.
    Thanks

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    1. Stephen Irvine May 26, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Hi Waqqas. Thanks for your reply – I’ll chase up these stats for you and let you know how the traffic to that page is looking.

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      1. Thanks Stephen.
        I’ll be waiting for your post with some more insights.

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      2. Stephen Irvine May 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        So, here goes…

        The taxis and minicabs page recieves around 20k visits per month with a seasonal peak in December. Looking at the daily trends, the traffic tends to peak around the weekend, which is probably to be expected. From this page, 20% of our traffic goes on to view the ‘book a taxi’ page and around 15% goes to the ‘taxi and minicab apps’ page and 15% to the ‘taxi fares’ page.

        Unlike the trend discussed in this blog post where mobile phones lead the way in terms of accessing our website, desktop outdoes mobile on this particular page with 52% of all traffic. As the main traffic is during the evening and at the weekend, again this is to be expected.

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  2. Hi Stephen,
    Like what your team is doing with this blog very much.
    Am curious about some insight into the % of mobile traffic breakdown by OS/browser.
    The dominance of iOS amongst mobile visitors to our site is at odds with overall market share of OS (e.g. http://uk.kantar.com/tech/mobile/)
    Is this because iOS users stay longer and wander further around our content?
    Do we have a difference in the UX between Safari, FireFox, Chrome and other browsers?

    Would love to know what the underlying stats are telling you about the demographics of mobile users. What parts of London do they travel to and from and likely work in? Heat map?

    Keep up the great work.
    Cheers

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    1. Stephen Irvine June 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Sean,

      It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying the blog, and thanks for your comment.
      Where we mention iOS leading the way (the level of all the unique browsers that visit our site,) we’re looking at which operating systems people are using to access the site, not how long their dwell times are or how many pages they view once they arrive.
      We don’t have the info to produce those kind of heat maps, but I agree it would be interesting to see a visual representation of how mobile users accessed our site, how this influenced their travel behaviour, where they typically travelled to and so on…

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  3. Reactivating an old post here, so I realise I may not get an answer…
    Have you been monitoring operating system usage and decided not to bother supporting Windows 8.0 phones any more? My Huawei W1 is hardly state of the art, but still adequate for most things. For the last few weeks though the TfL website has just said “Error:Cannot find server or DNS error”. Other websites including the National Rail one still work fine. I’m wondering if it is tied in with the new arrangement of Amazon “powering” the TfL website. I really shouldn’t need the latest technology just to check how the Tube is running or when the next bus is due.

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    1. Hi Andrew. The Windows Phone 8 uses Internet Explorer 10 Mobile which doesn’t support TLS 1.2 or above (older versions are now considered to be insecure), and this is the most likely the reason the site no longer works on those phones. We’d suggest you try upgrading the phone’s operating system to Win 8.1 or Win 10 (which use Internet Explorer 11 Mobile & Edge respectively).

      Here’s some links that can help:

      Updating Windows OS: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/12662/windows-phone-update-your-windows-phone
      Browser support matrix for SSL & TLS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:TLS/SSL_support_history_of_web_browsers​

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