Are Tablets Hurting Your Site’s Usability?
Tablets are, in many ways, a nightmare for a lot of retailers.
Don't get me wrong, smartphones ultimately made the expectations tougher for everyone. However, optimizing for a four-inch screen is ultimately very different from optimizing for 19 inches and up. Say what you will about how difficult it is to create a good smartphone experience, but the tasks for mobile phones are often different enough from desktops that the changes you'll often need to make are obvious. They won't always be easy to execute on, but the compromises you'll need to make will be clear:
- sacrifice descriptions in favor of creating distinct, easy-to-tap choices;
- use the real estate for easy navigation in favor of complete details; and
- leverage vertical scrolling — i.e., worry less than with desktops about what's "above the fold."
With tablets, those choices aren't always as clear cut. You have the same hot spot "tappability" problems as mobile phones in that fingers are less precise than a mouse. But unlike with mobile phones, you can't sacrifice too much real estate for them — consumers still want more details when using tablets.
"Above the fold" is still a critical concept, unlike with mobile phones, but you still have less real estate to work with compared to desktops. How people use tablets is very similar to how they use desktops and laptops, but your control mechanisms are largely based on interaction design for phones.
The point is, when addressing tablets, you have a lot of issues to resolve.
Data to the Rescue
The first step in addressing the issue is diagnosing how large the issue actually is. You might be tempted to look to Forrester or some other research company to look at the size of the problem, but that would be a mistake. Your first step should be a review of your tracking tools. Two types come in particularly handy:
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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