Tablet Users Want to See Your Whole Website… Usually

Is your website optimized for mobile users? Do you have either a separate site or a separate template for mobile users, and the ability to automatically direct visitors to the appropriate version when they arrive at the site? And does your mobile website offer a link to your full website?

If your answer to all those questions is yes… great! Unfortunately, you’re not quite done.

The next question you have to ask yourself is whether you should offer a third version of your site, for tablet users. The answer to this question will depend on your audience, and your website analytics can help you find it.

Yesterday I showed how to use Google Analytics to see your visitors’ mobile devices and screen resolutions. Here’s where you can put that report to use. It will tell you exactly what screen resolutions your mobile visitors are using. For this exercise, you can ignore all of the information about smartphones and focus only on the tablet data. What you’re looking for are Kindle Fires and other small tablet devices. If the user’s screen resolution is at least 700px wide, consider them a standard, large-screen tablet user.

Tablet or Full Site?

If you don’t have a significant number of website visitors looking at your site on small tablets, you don’t need a special site for tablet users. It’s that simple. Most tablet users want to see your full site, and they’ll be upset if you send them to something else. But for smaller tablets, your full website won’t be an ideal experience. The question is whether you have enough visitors coming in on small tablets to make the effort of creating a site just for them worthwhile. If not, decide whether to send them to your mobile site or your full site. Unsure whether your full site will be usable for them? Then I’d advise you direct them first to your mobile site – as long as you have that link available to get them to the full site if they prefer.

In an ideal world, you’d want to create a tablet-optimized site. But practicality has to rule. Start worrying about a tablet site only when you see you have – or are very close to having – enough visitors to justify the effort.

To quote Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox:

The guidelines are different for large tablets (10-inch form factor, as in Apple iPad, Lenovo IdeaPad, Samsung Galaxy, etc.), where full sites work reasonably well. For small tablets (7-inch form factor, as in Amazon Kindle Fire) the ideal would be to create yet a third design optimized for mid-sized devices, though most companies can get away with serving their mobile site to Kindle Fire users.

Optimize further for tablets?

If your website analytics tell you that you don’t have enough small tablet users to justify building a separate site or template, you still might have work in front of you.

Take a look at the key functional areas on your main website – especially your ecommerce pages, data collection forms, and the landing pages you link to from emails or search advertising. Make sure these areas work really well for both mobile and desktop users. If necessary, make accommodations here for tablet users who will be navigating with their “fat finger” rather than a mouse. Make submission buttons and search buttons easy to use on a touchscreen. And make sure you’re not presenting more information than is really needed; if possible, move secondary information off to secondary pages, to be accessed only by the few users who will need it.

Tablet users are important enough to warrant your concern and attention, even if you find that they don’t yet warrant a separate website.


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