How Tablet-Ready Are Your Pages?

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how tablet ready are your pages

There’s no question that tablets are important to your e-commerce mix. According to Emarketer, 15% of retail sales will be done on mobile devices this year, and by 2017, that figure will be more like 25%. Of the mobile mix today, roughly 2 out of every 3 are from tablets, despite more people owning smart phones. So if you’re missing out on optimizing your tablet experience, that problem is only going to grow larger - and the best time to allot time and resources to start fixing that problem is now.

The Weaker Device

Despite tablets doing gangbuster business sales-wise, they are, when you think about it, weaker devices than your PCs and laptops. That’s why so much care needs to go into optimizing the experience. You need to address many of the device’s weaknesses to provide user experience sessions at par with your laptop experiences:

  • Slower page loading times. Nothing says the future is here like rising smart phone and tablet ownership, and yet nothing says nope, it’s not quite here yet like waiting for your tablet to load a graphic-heavy page. Tablets are less powerful and less connected than your desktops and laptops, despite all that future talk.
  • No hover state. You think it’s tough showing which items are clickable on traditional devices? Try it without mouse hover over behavior.
  • Less real estate. Yes, you have more to work with than with phones, but those 7 and 10 inchers still don’t have as much space for your trust elements, CTAs, headlines, stock left, etc.
  • Less precision. The mouse, while it’s sitting on top of a table, is a pretty precise device. Our fingers, while we’re walking around, not so much.

Addressing the Weaknesses

The tablet is like the desktop in so many ways, and the use cases for it certainly overlap with laptops more than with smart phones - the actual sales happen on tablets more than on phones, and phones get used to compare stuff more. And yet … and yet … it’s not quite the traditional device. The work of getting the user experience to be at least as good as the laptop experience falls on marketers. Here’s a rundown of the least you need to fix:

  1. Lighter pages. Responsive Design is being touted as a potential catch-all for mobile experiences, but those may still require the longer page load times. Creating a separate user experience for tablets solves the load issue problem better, as you can just use fewer graphics and smaller pages. It’s typically the more expensive solution, though.
  2. Stronger visual cues. Gradients, subtle shadows, spacing, and other techniques can show users can interact with elements without the hover state - but you need to be very deliberate with how you use elements.
  3. Larger targets. Tablets have what Nielsen calls on iPads as “read-tap asymmetry.” Essentially, the links are big enough to read but far too small to click. The target areas need to be larger, and the interactive elements need to be apart more.

The sooner you deal with the weaknesses of tablets, the more positioned you’ll be to capitalize on its increasingly large presence in the e-commerce mix.