Looking it up in Dictionary.com

When was the last time you actually hauled out a printed copy of your dictionary and looked up the meaning or spelling of a particular word? I am thinking for me it has been at least a decade, and indeed I don’t even own a printed copy anymore. Who needs all that paper when there are so many fine Web sites, such as M-W.com, dictionary.com, and even Google will give you a definition if you just precede your word of interest with the word define.

But looking stuff up on the Web is so last year; now we have an app for that. Several apps, of course: on the Apple AppStore, there are four free apps, including two from Dictionary.com for the iPad and the iPhone apiece. And Dictionary.com has apps for Blackberries and Android, as well as providing definitions on its Web site too.

The vendor has actually taken the time to analyze how people use their apps and Web site to look up words. And they found some very interesting trends that I will share with you here. For those of you that are word nerds, enjoy.

First, iPhone users are more utilitarian and just want to get a definition in the moment. They use them mostly during the workweek. Same with the Blackberry and Android app users. iPad users are looking for entertainment, if such a thing could be said about dictionary usage. They are more likely to play the audio files to hear pronunciation, getting the word of the day, and actually playing games with their dictionary apps. They use their app on weekends more too and spend about 25% more time on the app per session than the other users.

Second, the mobile apps are getting more usage than the Web site, about two or three times more often. It seems that people want to get definitions when they are in the moment. I am sure the Dictionary.com apps have settled quite a few bar arguments. But what is also apparent from the Dictionary.com usage data is that “people are just as interested in word discovery when there’s no immediate need,” says the press release from the company.

So when you think about developing the next great iPhone app, think about these analytics. Spend some time reviewing your user data to see trends and patterns, and think about ways that your mobile app can complement the content on your existing Web site. Satisfyingly, one of the most often searched-for words using the Dictionary.com app is erudite. You’ll have to look it up.


3 thoughts on “Looking it up in Dictionary.com

  1. It’s really easy on the Kindle too. Just move the cursor to a word, and the dictionary entry appears at the bottom of the screen, with a one-click link to the full definition in the dictionary. It’s on board not via the web/internet.

  2. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I enjoy printed dictionaries. When I look something up, other words often catch my eye and I wander off down that track to see where it goes. I have a whole bookshelf full of English and foreign language dictionaries, which give me a great deal of pleasure that is a very different experience from the quick functional spelling or definition check which, I agree, is more efficiently handled online.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s