I’m frequently asked why a brand that is currently seeing their tablet users converting at high rates on a non-tablet optimized website, should invest in optimizing their site for tablets.
If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
As many online retailers are starting to see the ranks of tablet customers swell in their online user base, this conversation of tablet web optimization begins to take on added significance.
An Adobe Digital Index Report issued last year reinforced the fact that tablets are providing online retailers new opportunities to engage customers in shopping experiences that are extending engagement, conversion, loyalty and retention.
As the WWDC keynote yesterday pointed out, many brands are seeing higher rates of conversion on tablets than on PCs.
As such, tablets are becoming an increasingly important component of the e-commerce toolkit for brands and businesses.
My response to the “why” question is usually long-winded and rambling.
Me? Long winded and rambling? Nooooo.
So I’ve decided to collect my thoughts and offer them here.
6 Reasons You Need a Tablet Optimized Site:
It was originally going to be 10 Reasons, but I started to lose steam after 5.
1. Form and function. The truth of the matter is that desktop sites were not designed for tablet use. The navigation for a desktop site and that of a tablet are different. The desktop relies on a mouse for point and click, while a tablet relies on a finger or stylus. While a user can select items using their finger on a desktop site from a tablet, it’s not as fluid and is more often than not frustrating. This frustration (of users attempting to select items on your site that are too small or poorly spaced) can be avoided entirely if your site is optimized for use on a tablet.
2. Tablets are for touching. One of the primary benefits of a tablet experience is the ability to touch the screen to access and manipulate content. A desktop site accessed from a tablet loses much of the ability to engage a visitor with tactile interaction. A tablet web site that incorporates standard gesturing into the user’s experience can enhance the overall interactivity of that experience and enables a user to easily access content elements. A site which a user cannot swipe through to see additional items, easily access menus, pinch, zoom, rotate or otherwise manipulate the screen (the way they can with native applications) significantly detracts from the inherent fluidity of tablet navigation.
3. Reduce clutter. The desktop site contains multiple levels of content designed for consumption on a PC. The best tablet web sites are designed in such a way as to remove clutter and reduce distractions. Each screen focuses on a core user task or piece of content, leaving a simplified experience for the user. Menus are tucked away or vanish when not being used, banners and ads cede to the more functional elements of the user experience.
4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Well designed tablet optimized sites provide utility with simplicity. Navigation is clean and intuitive with navigation elements that are easy to find. Simple design tends to enhance, rather than distract from, the user experience. By making it easy to move about your site, reducing the number of steps required to access desired content (without having to rely on clunky and distracting breadcrumbs or other extraneous navigation elements) you’re enhancing the user’s ability to interact with your brand and convert.
5. Less is more. Most websites are extremely complex jam-packed with content. This complexity rarely translates well into a mobile or tablet environment. In contrast mobile sites are built with simplicity in mind. There are fewer options, with only the core elements available to the user. Tablet websites should adopt the simple form of mobile, while simultaneously taking advantage of the larger form factor available to present content.
6. Reduce white space. On a tablet, space is at a premium. Unlike the desktop, where users are used to seeing empty spaces, tablets are designed with as little empty space as possible. Since the majority of what tablet owners do with their devices is shop, eliminating white space and utilizing that space for some functional feature or page element (larger PDPs, compelling CTAs, or special offers) is key.
Ultimately, whether you make the leap to tablet optimized web goes to how you value your customers.
While they can use your desktop site from their tablets, they shouldn’t have to.
More importantly, you shouldn’t want them to.
You should want your users’ experience with your online properties to be optimized for the device they are consuming them from.
To be clear, in my opinion a native tablet app provides the best user experience, but if you’re testing the waters, then a tablet optimized web experience is the way to go.
In this age of tablets and mobile technology, optimization should be every brand’s highest priority.
If it’s not your’s, you’ve got to ask yourself, “why not?”