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Is Your Web Site Optimized for Tablet Users?

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BostonGlobe.com

BostonGlobe.com effectively uses responsive web design to deliver an optimal experience across devices.

Have you recently marveled at the design of a site or app on your tablet and wondered, “what should I be doing for my business’s tablet audience?”

If so, you certainly aren’t alone. Tablet ownership skyrocketed from 10% of US adults to 19% over the most recent holiday season (Pew Internet). The relatively recent and explosive growth of tablet usage has left businesses with not only one, but many screen sizes to contend with on the web development front.

Should you create a tablet version of your site? Is it OK to just send tablet users to your desktop site? With these questions in mind, here are four considerations to take to your next web strategy meeting:

1. Whatever you do, you can’t ignore tablet users.

The tablet market is sizable and growing fast, as mentioned above. On top of that, tablet users in 2011 spent on average about 20% more per purchase than desktop or laptop users (Adobe). Round that out with the fact that tablet owners skew younger and are more affluent (comScore), and you have a group that marketers can’t afford to dismiss.

2. You probably don’t have to create a tablet-specific site or app.

There are few businesses for which a tablet app is a top priority, and while companies like Time Inc. (People.com), Staples and Yahoo! have created fantastic dedicated tablet versions of their sites, this may not be a viable (or affordable) option for every business. It’s a debatable point, but the sensible approach for many businesses is probably to ensure that the desktop version of your site is tablet-friendly.

3. Understand how the tablet experience is different.

  • Navigation – Since tablet users are navigating with their fingers, bigger buttons and easy, intuitive navigation are very important. If your site is even remotely cumbersome on desktop, it will be a royal pain on a tablet.
  • Plugins – To the extent possible, steer clear of plugins like Flash or Java, which are not supported across many tablets. Better yet, utilize HTML5 to deliver video and audio, as well as a streamlined and visually compelling user experience.
  • Multiple Orientations – Tablet users have the option of browsing in portrait or landscape view, so you want to make sure that any essential content is visible in either orientation. Taking it a step further, design your site layout to respond based on the orientation.

4. Utilize responsive web design.

Wouldn’t it be great if web sites just adjusted content appropriately for any type of device? Well, responsive web design (RWD) is an approach that achieves just that, suggesting that design and development should respond to a user’s screen size, platform and orientation. It’s a hot topic in development circles, and BostonGlobe.com is a superb example of RWD in action.

For any business with a web presence, tablet users are simply too valuable not to be a top priority. Schedule a meeting with your digital team today to discuss how you can optimize your desktop site for this rapidly growing market segment.

About the Author: Cory Gaddis is a regular contributor to the 60 Second Marketer and helps Mobilize Worldwide create mobile marketing campaigns for a wide variety of clients.