Reality of a Mobile First Society for Local Government

The tipping point came in 2014. That was the year that mobile Internet access surpassed desktop access for the first time. Since then, the usage disparity between desktop and mobile continues to grow. Today, municipalities looking to provide their citizens with valuable information and timely news and alerts must approach their digital strategies from a mobile-first perspective in order to optimize engagement and response.

Consider the following statistics from a report issued by Smart Insights:

  • In 2015 mobile digital media time in the United States was significantly higher than desktop use, at 51% compared to 42%.
  • Of the average 9.9 hours spent looking at a screen, 29% is spent looking at a vertically oriented mobile screen.
  • 80% of Internet users own a smart phone, and 47% own a tablet.
  • 7% of smartphone owners, particularly younger adults, minorities, and lower-income Americans, are fully dependent on their smartphone for internet access.

One of the reasons that mobile usage has become so prevalent is due to its ability to provide information immediately and remotely. According to a 2012 study, in a 30-day time period:

  • 35% of mobile phone users used their device to solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else encountered.
  • 30% used their device to decide whether to visit a business.
  • 20% used their device to get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information in order to find the fastest way to get to their destination.
  • 19% used their device to get help in an emergency situation.


If there is a perception that the rising trend in mobile use is only associated with twenty-somethings posting selfies on Facebook, the truth is that mobile use is on the rise among all age categories, especially among Americans over age 45.

  • 97% of adults age 30 – 49 own a mobile phone.
  • 88% of adults age 50 – 64 own a mobile phone.
  • 74% of adults 65 years old and older own a mobile phone.
  • Among older adults, tablets and e-book readers are as popular as smartphones.

All of these statistics validate that entities with a digital presence need to design their online content to provide an ideal experience for mobile users. Otherwise, a growing majority of their audiences will be unable to find or absorb the information that they seek.

As we continue to progress in a mobile dominant society, the mobile experience must be taken into consideration at every aspect of website design. Many traditional elements of online design and functionality are only optimized for the desktop experience, such as forms, page orientations, and text size, making it frustrating to view non-mobile optimized content on a mobile device. Further reinforcing the importance of designing for a mobile-first society, Google is now penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly.

For municipalities looking to engage citizens at home and out in the community, their civic websites must be developed with a consideration for mobile first design and functionality. CivicPlus' CivicEngage government content management system allow governments to future-proof their web presence to meet the evolving needs of their residents. Citizens of all ages are making the transition from desktop to mobile and are turning to their mobile devices while out in the community to search for local information. CivicEngage helps governments design mobile-optimized websites that enable citizens to access the information they need whether at home or on the go.

For more tips and best practices for leveraging the power of mobile to reach citizens in your community, click below to download our eBook, the Reality of a Mobile First Society for Your and Your Citizens.


Jessica Marabella

Jessica Marabella

Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Rochester, and a Master of Arts degree in Advertising from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has over ten years of experience in communications with a focus on writing in the digital marketing space.