January 31, 2014

Consumers don’t want much on tablets, but are you giving it to them?

Written By Martin Sandhu

In the hast to catch up with mobile, many businesses have forgotten about tablets. In the last year tablets have seen a phenomenal increase is usage, largely due to a rise in lower priced tablets on the market.

Tablets sit somewhere between mobile and desktop, but that doesn’t mean they can simply be lumped in with one or the other. There are now some distinctions in exactly how different devices are used and when, giving them all their own role. Laptops and desktops are still used in the main for work, smartphones tend to be used whilst out and about for convenience or to pass the time when commuting etc and tablets are popular during downtime of an evening, so it’s likely to be a second screen.

A recent survey by Econsultancy has found that tablet users aren’t really asking for much when it comes to web browsing though – they’re certainly not as demanding as smartphone users – with more than 30% simply wanting ‘A similar experience to desktop, but adapted for a tablet screen’.  In other words, consumers don’t want a watered down version of a website, which they will often see on a mobile, but they want it to be optimised visually for the screen size of their tablet.

This really isn’t a big ask at all, consumers aren’t looking for all singing all dancing apps, just an easy and comfortable browsing experience. But the reality is that many websites have skipped tablets, and are only optimised for a standard desktop screen or a tiny smartphone screen.

Sometimes a desktop site can look right on a tablet, but it’s little usability issues which make it a frustration, links that are just a little bit too small to tap for example or more technical bugs like sites with lots of high-res images taking an age to load because of the memory limitations of a tablet.

Whether it’s through responsive design or a tablet-specific site, optimising for tablets is essential given their popularity.