Why they’re important, and how to reach them
It seems like tablets have just recently become a thing, but just over a quarter of internet users (that’s 56 million Americans) own one, and just about half of American adults access the internet from their smartphones. In addition, tablet users tend to be wealthier, more likely to shop online, and more likely to read long-form online content than the average American.This makes them an ideal target demographic for any web-based business, particularly bloggers—so you can’t afford to aggravate them with an unfriendly user interface. Here are a few ways you can draw them in, and ensure that they have an enjoyable (and profitable) visit to your site.
Build your site with mobile users in mind:
The very best way to design a versatile site is to start with mobile users in mind first, and then expand. It’s much easier to add new features than to trim away clutter, so begin your design process by asking, “How will this look on a 3-inch display?” and test your site from smartphones and tablets as well as desktops. Not only will this make your site more accessible, but it will also focus your work on the essential core of your website, and make it a more efficient revenue-generator.
Create a separate mobile site:
If you just couldn’t trim down your site enough for tablet users, you can take a different route and make an alternative version for mobile users. Google’s “GoMo” service is a great way to create a mobile-friendly site, or just test your current interface to see how usable it is on a mobile device. A dedicated mobile version takes more work and debugging, but it’s a decent compromise that allows you to maintain an open nav structure with all your desired bells-and-whistles, without alienating mobile users.
Design an app:
This is the over-achiever’s option; creating your own mobile app can give your site and brand greater visibility, and draw huge traffic to your site. A word of warning: unless your site is Facebook or Twitter (and it isn’t), creating a mobile app that is just a mobile version of your site will drive users off. Having to open an independent app just to visit your site just isn’t worth the hassle.
Find a need in the same niche as your blog or product, and try to meet it with a mobile app. It doesn’t have to be a world-changing innovation—just something simple that makes a task easier. Give your app away for free on the App Store and Google Play, and watch your traffic and revenue climb.
There are only a few proactive steps you can take to attract tablet users; mainly it’s about not making mistakes. Tablet users are attracted to content for the same reasons desktop users are—but it’s much easier to drive them away with a clunky interface.
Blast your page with tiny, clustered links:
The biggest hassle of tablet browsing is trying to poke at one tiny hyperlink, without hitting the three or four others bunched around it. You don’t need a pure mobile version of your site, but putting a solid half-inch of space between each link on your site can make a big difference in the tablet user experience. Wired Magazine is a perfect example of this—not only is it a breeze to navigate from a tablet, but the negative space is also aesthetically pleasing from a desktop. Just remember, there’s plenty of room on the internet—you don’t need to pack each page with content.
If you design your site to be viewed exclusively in one orientation, it can be awkward (or even illegible) in the other—but tablet users will switch frequently between the two, and will expect your site to switch just as effortlessly. Check out adaptive CSS—it will alter font sizes, word-wrap, and spacing to accommodate any display’s size and dimensions. If that’s too complex, just limit your design to 1000px or less. That will keep your content legible in portrait orientation on most devices—but it might still look a little awkward in landscape.
Force users to slide and zoom incessantly:
Big, tightly-packed pages force tablet and mobile users to zoom in and slide around to read your content, and most won’t put up with it for very long. Remember that users will only work so hard to use your service or read your content, so give them the easiest possible path to the clicks that keep your business running.
Aimee Watts is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has spent ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen, Colorado.