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Playing Shakespeare on your smartphone!

Visits to our web-site have grown significantly over the past three months (up over 300% in first half of July compared with April pro-rata) and a lot of that is in smart phone and tablet usage. Of course, we think our web-site is wonderful, but still, we were surprised, and so we investigated. We’ve also made some changes to improve the experience of reading Shakespeare’s plays on Smartphones, and more on that later in this post, but first – the evidence of what has changed.

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What technology people use to visit our web-site:

Our web-site supports access from three main technology platforms: (Laptops /. PCs; tablets; and smart phones. It turns out that most of that growth has been on smart phones:

  • In April, 16% of visits were from smart phones.
  • In the first half of July,  58% of visits were on smart phones.
  • Desktop traffic has declined in % terms but grown in absolute terms, by maybe 40%
  • Tablet traffic has grown in % terms from 8% to 12% and in absolute terms by maybe 300%

So, there’s a significant shift in  % usage from Desktops to smartphones and tablets. This pleases us, as it suggests wee’re reaching a younger audience (there is some evidence for this), and our own view is that play-reading is better done on a tablet or a smartphone than a laptop.

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However, there’s one other thing of interest that we’ve noticed. If we look at what Google calls the ‘Really Engaged Users’ segment (those who read quite a few pages and spend a bit of time when they visit the site),  there are some interesting differences between users of different technology, as you’ll see in the following table:

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Engaged User sessions: July ;17

Technology% Engaged User Sess.Pages per SessionSession Duration (mins)Time per page
Desktop41%9.5710:511:08
Tablet32%7.828:411:07
Smartphone27%6.3310:281:39

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There are a few obvious conclusions:

  • More Engaged user sessions (EUS) happen on Desktops or Tablets than on Smart phones
  • Desktop or Tablet EUSs read more pages than Smart phone EUS.
  • It takes longer to read a page on a smart phone than on a tablet or desktop

Our guess is that it’s a lot easier to explore a play in depth on a tablet or laptop than it is on a smartphone , and this is probably because the Index to the play is visible on the same screen as a particular play page, whereas on the Smart Phone, the index is only visible if you scroll on part the bottom of the page you’re interested in.

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Whilst not wanting to sound like an advertisement for Apple, it also appears, from Google Analytics (and Google are competitors to Apple) that  Safari is much faster at loading pages than other browsers: an average of 4.4 seconds for Safari per page, twice as fast as Firefox, the next fastest browser; and  more than tour times as fast as Google Chrome. Speed of response has been shown to be key to acceptability of a web-site on a smart phone.

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Conclusions for play-reading groups:

In our view, a play-reading group will normally consist of an organiser (drama teacher; director; play-reading group organiser) and a number of play-readers.

The organizer might be best to prepare the play-reading, using a laptop or  tablet to prepare for the play-reading.

The play-readers, including the organizer, should find tablets and smart phones (particularly Apple offerings) perfectly acceptable for play-reading. (This is borne out by our own experience. During play-readings, we have one user who always uses his smart phone, and I have been known, myself, when short of Apple Mini iPads for the group, to use my Apple iPhone with satisfactory results, and most of our play-readers use Apple Mini iPads.

Performance will be improved if, during the play-reading, all the play-reading technology is connected to the Internet via wi-fi.

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Improved access to web-site for smart phones:

With nearly 60% of visits now coming via smart phones, we’re trying to improve access to the plays for smart phones. So far, we’ve done a few things, butt plan to do more:

  • We’ve taken first steps to implement AMP a Google initiative which speeds access to the web-site from smartphones. This does seem to have improved response time, but we’re not sure if we’ve got things entirely right yet. If you have feedback on how AMP affects your access. particularly via mobile phones, please let us know by responding with a comment to this post, or by leaving a Facebook message on our FB page.
  • Note that we’re only converting new posts to AMP, and some high traffic posts.
  • Normally, Google Search is supposed to show you the AMP version of a page if you’re using a Smart Phone  and click on a Google Search link.
  • Id you use FB to find our posts, or use our internal URL links, you can check if there’s an AMP version of the page you want to read, by adding ‘/amp’ to the URL of the post you want to read.
    For example, to see the AMP version of our Home page, click on the following link (on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop):
    https://players-shakespeare.com/amp
    And while you’re there, click on the Navigate bar to see an AMP way of navigating the site, or click on any of the post titles to see the content of that post. Notice a difference in speed?
  • We’re not convinced that all smart phone users are aware that, after the page  that they’re reading, there’s an index to the play they’re exploring, or links to other posts of interest. We’ll try and make this clearer in our posts.
  • On some posts (e.g. the script of a particular Act and Scene of a play), we’re not sure if  it’s helpful to have a “Reply” section. So we’ll remove this from some posts, so that the index occurs directly after the content of the post.

We’re pleased to see our web-site being used more, and by a nfast-growing  audience of Smart phone and tablet users, particularly as we suspect they are likely to be younger visitors.

We think that, as play-reading groups get set up, they’re likely to focus on using tablets and smart phones to read the play, rather than lap-tops.

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If you are wondering what we’re on about, you can get a better idea of what we do and what we offer at the following  posts:

And now that’s definitely enough about technology!

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Let’s Play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

To find out what Players-Shakespeare.com is all about, check out What we do.
If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  or to keep in touch with play-reading support,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

 

 

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