10 considerations to create a better overall website experience for the growing tablet market.
Apple just announced the iPad mini. So what, you ask? To create a great experience for people using these devices to view your website you need to consider their expectations, the screen size of their device and the context that people are using their new devices in. Each has an impact on your web design and how you craft a great web experience.
“As of two weeks ago we’ve sold 100 million iPads.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO at October 23, 2012 Apple iPad mini event
It’s more than Adaptive or Responsive Web Design
You may be expecting me to tell you to use a responsive or adaptive design for your next website so it will look great on an iPad mini. And you’d be partly right since responsive website design means your website will look equally beautiful on a smartphone, or the just announced iPad mini or iPad 4th generation with retina display.
But there’s something more central to consider before we talk about solutions like adaptive web design. Experience.
Experience can be very specific and contextual, like making sure your website looks great on the 7.9″ display of an iPad mini, or how prominent your phone and address are when viewed from a smartphone. We won’t really understand all the ways we need to optimize our websites for the iPad mini until we see how usage compares to that of a smartphone or regular iPad. But we can make some educated guesses and focus on the overall experience we create so that iPad mini users love your website just as much as regular iPad or web users do.
To get clear on designing for the iPad mini you have to first consider the person using your website and where and how they’re experiencing your website.
- Given Apple’s market success, entry price of $329 and pent up demand for a smaller size iPad, sales are expected to be ‘amazing.’ That means a flood of new tablet users adding to the already impressive installed base of iPad’s that reached 100MM units as of two weeks ago. This will quickly be a very important market to design for.
- iPad users are spoiled by high quality experiences (that’s a good thing). But, it also raises the bar for us in terms of making websites that will be viewed by spoiled Apple users. 🙂 We can expect iPad mini users to expect your website to ‘just work’ while also looking beautiful.
- We know the iPad mini has a 7.9″ screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768, the same resolution as the original iPad 2 (vs. the higher res iPad 3 with Retina display).
- The screen size means that iPad mini users can use all existing iPad apps in their original native size. In other words, iPad mini users have zero expectation of a transition timeline like we saw with the iPad retina display where at launch very few iOS apps were optimized for the higher resolution display. Expect higher expectations.
- The more portable size of the smaller iPad mini could mean that it’s more likely to be used in mobile contexts, more like a smartphone.
- The speed of the iPad mini will be the same as an older iPhone 4S or iPad 2 so it won’t be as ‘snappy’ from a performance perspective of the iPad 3 or iPhone 5.
- On the other hand the availability of LTE in the wireless versions means faster download speeds and less sensitivity to larger media files.
This is a pretty interesting combination from a design perspective. Should we become obsessed with making every little thing perfect with the new 7.9″ screen size and resolution of the iPad mini? Yup. But that one thing won’t be how iPad mini users are likely to judge your overall website experience. Instead they’ll come away with an overall impression of your company based on the collective elements of your website such as how it works, looks and meets your needs.
Think like IBM, Mercedes Benz, L.L. Bean and Nordstrom, all companies that deliver very good products packaged with very good experiences.
Applying this thinking to the digital experience created by your website
The real work begins by identifying weak links in the experience you are creating for your web visitors. Our design and website function should serve the user by being easy-to-use, specific to our needs and beautiful. We want to adapt our website to the people we want to attract and the scenarios of how they’ll use our website. With that in mind let’s look at some specifics.
Here are 10 elements where we often let users down and create a lackluster overall experience (even if some elements are great). The more of them you get right, the better the overall experience you’ll create. Some of these aren’t web design centric but they are user experience centric.
- Great text and video content are frequently upended by a design that’s gimmicky, breaks or doesn’t work for a given context (e.g. mobile). It is easy to succumb to creating designs that get in the way of our content.
- Unclear site navigation and organization or usability problems like slow site speed or browser compatibility issues.
- Failing to offer a mobile design or responsive web design.
- Text that is too small, has too little line spacing or too many words per line (this greatly effects how inviting the text on your site is to read).
- Stock photos or graphics that look like stock photos or graphics.
- Relevant, useful content.
- Poor writing: copy or jargon filled writing containing lots of $50 words and unintelligible BS. Write for clarity like you would design for clarity.
- Valid and optimized markup and css
- Complex forms that are too long or ask for too much information
- Integrated, real-time ways to interact with you like live chat, click-to-call or online appointment scheduling
Exceeding the overall experience you create for your users isn’t just for Apple. It’s for anyone who wants to push themselves to be better than the other guy, make more sales or create an environment on their website that keeps people coming back for more.
Getting started can be the hardest part and it’s important to not get stuck by the size of your task. Take the worst part of your website experience and make it awesome. By starting with the weakest link in your design you’ll immediately improve your overall experience. Then take the next weakest link on your website and obliterate it! It may take six months or even a year but you’ll get there. Apple took some thirty years before they really became the company we think of today. Producing great quality requires thoughtful work. It doesn’t hurt if you find reward in the journey along the way. Some guy named Steve often liked to make that point.