If we hark all the way back to 2010, when the iPad was first announced, critics panned it as a big clumsy iPhone with a silly name. People figured Apple’s luck had to run out sometime, and they’d finally missed a step.
Of course, tablet sales are now skyrocketing, the field has become fiercely competitive, and it is hard to imagine that it was ever anything but certain.
Why should your business care?
First of all, there are 56 million of them in the US. That ís just under a quarter of American internet users (239 million). Your business can’t afford to miss the opportunity to talk to that many people; and if you don’t make your web design tablet friendly, you’ll miss them.
Tablet users are evenly-represented by gender, just slightly more women than men and most tablet users fall between the ages of 25 and 44, the demographic with the largest disposable income. More importantly, 60% of tablet users have incomes over $75,000 a year, which makes tablet traffic hugely valuable, both for retail and advertisers.
Another hugely important reason to target tablet users is the way people use them. Since people use tablets before bed, in waiting rooms, on the subway, and other circumstances when they have down time, they’re more likely to browse, explore, and shop online.
Having access to consumers on-the-go is a huge benefit to retailers that compete with brick-and-mortar stores. Even more than laptops, consumers use their tablet to research purchases and comparison-shop; and catching consumers while they’re already out shopping makes it much easier to close the deal.
How you can attract tablet traffic
The most important part of bringing in tablet consumers is to make sure your web design doesn’t get in the way. Make sure that your site displays correctly on both Android and iPad tablets, users should be able to check out your site in portrait or landscape orientation, and they shouldn’t need third-party plug-ins or software to display your content (this means avoiding Flash, unfortunately).
One of the biggest frustrations that will drive tablet users away from your site is a page that they have to zoom and swipe to navigate. The hard-work option is to create a dedicated mobile version of your site; but if that’s more investment than you want to put in, just make sure that your site is legible on a smaller display. Keep your design under 1000px, and look into adaptive CSS options to make sure that your site functions properly on a variety of tablet sizes and shapes.
Another huge challenge for tablet computing a healthy amount of empty space around your links and comment boxes even the best touchscreen is limited by the size of human fingers, which makes them like cudgels compared to a cursor.
Publish an “App”
Once your UI is user-friendly, you might consider publishing an app. Not an app that simply displays your siteóthose are obnoxious, even more of a turn-off that a tablet-unfriendly interface. Consider an app that relates to your service, a real value-add for a tablet user. If you buy ad space on other sites, make sure that your ads display on their mobile versions, and network with the most tablet-friendly sites you can find.
Don’t ignore tablet users
The only way you can really mess up with tablet users is to ignore them. Test your site’s interface on a tablet and smartphone just as thoroughly as you do on your laptop. Sites that are not mobile- and tablet-compatible are going to miss 50 million (and counting) highly-connected, high-income consumers, and ultimately get left behind.
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.
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