Running a successful online business can be a challenge but dotcom entrepreneurs will be comforted by the inexorable and dramatic growth of online retail. The estimated value of the UK online retail market in 2012 is £77bn, according to IMRG.
Maybe less comforting for the website owner is the rapid rate of change in how the consumer accesses their site. Growing numbers of consumers are turning to tablets to make purchases and if your site isn’t tablet friendly you could be losing out on a fair chunk of the online retail pie – after all, 20% of all online sales will be made through smart devices such as phones or tablets by 2012.
Most modern websites when viewed on a mobile device resize themselves according to the display size. However, that is still not the perfect fix as the buttons tend to be small and awkward, so small that one would often miss-click a link and end up lost somewhere unknown and unproductive.
A tablet-optimised site entails a complete redesign, a dedicated site with larger buttons and text for our fat fingers.
There are several ways to optimise your website for the mobile market.
One is Responsive Web Design (RWD). RWD can be a HTML5 site and is based on CSS3 media queries. Using fluid grids and flexible images, it changes the site as the media accessing the site changes.
This is usually detected by the screen or window size. RWD is great if you don’t want to waste time redesigning the whole site for the subdomain.
There are several important factors to take into account when designing your tablet site:
- Minimalism. Keep it simple; in general, less is more when it comes to a mobile device webpage. Use images to capture the user’s imagination and keep the text brief but informative
- High Definition! Your visual content will be beautiful on a tablet if it’s in HD. Most tablets are now high resolution and it is only going to get better. HD content on your site is a must.
- Get your navigation right. Make sure each link is big enough for those thumbs! Using thumbnail images as links as you scroll down pages is one great way to do it. Or just a simple dropdown menu will do.
Most tablet-optimised sites are also designed to be visually compelling. The more beautiful the site, the more personal the experience and the better it is for both the user and the business. The best sites feel somehow natural in your hand, as if you are holding the internet… and it feels good.
Almost £1bn (£920m) is expected to be spent on mobile devices over the Christmas period, up 15% from last year. While it is perhaps unrealistic to expect those who have not yet made a tablet-friendly site to have remedied the situation by Christmas, there’s no excuse for not having one by the festive period of 2013.
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