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by Andrew Tonks on 19th December 2011
One of my favourite gadgets is my iPad, I love working on it or generally just surfing the web. Unfortunately one of the gripes I have about using it is the seemingly endless number of sites out there that are poorly optimised for tablets.
I also find this incredible given that number of devices shipped worldwide is expected to top 300 million by 2015. Furthermore tablet sales are growing at a far quicker rate than PC sales. This very second, businesses all over the world are missing out on opportunities to engage effectively with their customers simply because their sites were not built to take tablets into consideration. It is my opinion that if you do not have a strategy in place on how your business can capitalise on this emerging device, then you do not have a plan to grow your online business over the next five years.
With this in mind, I thought I would put together a selection of the areas your site and business you should be thinking about today if you want to engage with your customers via tablets. Start addressing these areas now and I’m you’re sure you will see a far greater uptake in the number of visits engaging effectively with your site via tablets.
Unfortunately the iPad does not support flash and Apple’s standpoint on this is pretty clear. As such I think this will be an issue for any site utilising flash for the foreseeable future. Also from a search point of view, search engines can’t crawl flash either. Given iPad represent over 80% of the world-wide tablet market, if your site has been built in flash or relies on it heavily, then you have pretty much zero chance of ranking in search engines and engaging with table users.
To Do: consider converting your content to HTML5 for search engines and iPad users
Address Site Speed Issues
One of the best things about an iPad is that is portable, you can take it pretty much anywhere and use it on the go. However this presents a challenge to website owners, if a user is online on a super fast WiFi connection then your site is bound to run as expected, but what if someone is viewing your site on the move? Mobile providers advertise great connection speeds for 3G users but this is often a best case scenario. In most cases your site will be viewed via a much slower connection, especially if the user is on the move on a train for example.
To Do: make sure your site is structured and built with site speed in mind – use your Google Webmaster Tools account to keep on top of any site speed issues and ensure imaged are not unnecessarily large.
Simple Check Out Process
If you’ve managed to get someone to visit your site, they like what they see and decide to purchase something then how frustrating must it be to lose that potential sale simply because your checkout process is overly complicated or cumbersome. Remember, browsing a site via a tablet is completely different to doing so on a PC, the tablet’s keyboard is smaller and requires the user to put it down to type with both hands. Too much typing can be fustrating!!
To Do: review the checkout process and see if all the fields you ask for are required to complete the transaction, the less information you require someone to input the better. Also consider allowing fields to be populated automatically via cookies from previous visits and allow people to complete the transaction via PayPal to make the process as simple as possiable.
I have also noticed quite a few sites with “next” and “previous” navigation icons that are not tablet friendly, making the browsing experience extremely frustrating. I have known this to be so frustrating I often just leave instead of persevering with the site. Simply put, it would be easier if the various pages were paginated into one long page so there would be no need for me to be clicking back and forth simply to view a page. As tablets are great for browsing long pieces of content, the impact of these sorts of pages on usability is less of an issue when compared to a PC.
To Do: ensure buttons are iPad friendly and consider paginating content into one long page for ease of browsing.
I would also recommend utilising the “Devices” section of your Google Analytics account to keep track of the number of users you are engaging with via tablets and how this is performing against the site wide average. This will also help you justify any improvements to the site needed for tablets as well as calculate a return on investment for tablets.
To Do: familiarise yourself with Google Analytics’ devices section and track accordingly.
For More Information
If you’re looking for conversion rate optimisation services including those focused on tables, please have a look at our conversion rate optimisation page.