Tracking Orientation on Mobile Devices

Mark  Ryan

October 25, 2012

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We are working on a fun mobile financial site that enables customers to view the performance of their investments from any mobile device.  The secure site provides users with a variety of tools for charting, comparing, and analyzing various retirement strategies and investments.

As we started to design the various types of charting functions the strategy team asked some important questions around horizontal vs vertical layouts and scrolling pages vs accordions which show/hide important functions.  We looked at the available research on mobile site usage and while we did find some good data to inform the designs, we didn't feel it was conclusive.  We decided that we needed to track some data in this space.  I worked with Ian to create a custom set of tracking tags in Google Analytics to answer the following questions.

  • How many times a user changes orientation during a session?
  • Are there pages that a user prefers to view horizontally vs vertically?
  • Are there some pages that a visitor changes orientation multiple times because they cannot get the right dimensions?
  • How often does a session start in one orientation (i.e. vertical) and then end in another (i.e. horizontal)?
  • Are there specific devices (i.e. iPad vs iPhone) that cause visitors to be more picky about their orientation?
  • If we utilize space saving features such as accordion menu/functions, will  visitors utilize them?

We implemented the tracking on the mobile site and are now tracking the data.  We are anxious to see a good data set to better understand these types of behaviors on mobile sites.