Tablets are a norm these days. The scene has been heavily dominated by Apple’s iPad before. But a lot of other companies have been competing with them for quite a while. Google Pixel Slates, Kindle e-readers, Samsung Galaxy Tablets, and a slew of other tablets have widened the market’s choice.
Because of this, businesses have been adjusting their websites to accommodate the rise of tablets. There will be a lot of things that need to be kept in mind to compete in this space. If you are a business that owns a website, then you need to optimize that asset to work appropriately in the tablet arena.
Luckily, we’re here to help!
Also, if you are busy, then feel free to go to the end of this article to see a TL;DR version.
Responsive vs. Adaptive vs. Standalone Design
First of all, before making any changes to your website, you need to understand the difference between responsive designs, adaptive designs, and standalone mobile sites. These three have been the leading solutions when it comes to adjusting a website for mobile devices. Choosing the right solution between the three is a “make or break” moment, so think hard on how you want to present your site.
Responsive web designs show your content based on the available space on a browser. The website detects what resolution a user is browsing your site in and adjusts how the content is shown. One way to test if a site is responsive is to resize your browser window on a PC or Mac. If it suddenly changes to a mobile version – you’d know when you see it – then a site is considered to be responsive.
These types of site designs are often used by small to medium businesses. Those who just made a website also often turn to responsive designs because it is easy and requires fewer resources to run.
A more “hardcore” version of going through things is to use an adaptive design for your site. Adaptive designs show content based on what resolution the servers determine your website is viewed on. If your site’s servers detect a viewer using a particular resolution, for example, tablets, then it shows the best layout for your website.
This kind of design is more labor-intensive. But the benefits outweighs this con since you can produce more targeted content based on what device your viewership is using. Honestly, if you are targeting tablet users, it is almost always imperative that you use adaptive design. This way, you make sure that your targeted audience sees content according to how you want them to be seen. This results in more conversions and engagement.
Standalone Mobile Sites
Considered to be ‘outdated,’ standalone mobile sites have been the solution to a lot of websites before. These are like the precursor to adaptive designs. If a site detects that you are using a mobile device to view it, it sends a signal to show a “mobile-only” version of the website.
While some businesses still retain their standalone sites, a lot of other site owners are moving away from it. The sheer cost of maintaining a mobile-only site is very high, and responsive/adaptive designs show content in a better manner nowadays.
Now that those have been discussed, here are some tips on how to make your site tablet-friendly. Note that these are only suggestions, and it is totally up to you and your site developer if you want to implement these.
Make Your Site Touch Friendly
Viewing a website through a tablet is a unique experience for users. They are in an area that is in-between larger computers and smaller smartphones. So to cater to these audiences, it’s better to have a touch-friendly site. There are multiple ways to do this:
Disable zooming on the site, but not on images
A tablet user should be able to see text content easily on their device, so zooming should not be a thing. But let them have the ability to zoom in on images and see a higher quality resolution. This is especially true for sites that sell merchandise since you want your customers to check out the detail of a product.
Make sure your users appreciate your text fonts and layouts
If you own a tablet, you’d quickly know why this is important. Not everyone has small, dainty fingers that can cater to touching a screen. Allow for some space on links that can easily be clicked by people with bigger fingers. A lot of website designers often give users the ability to change font sizes, so look into that as well.
Data fields should be populated automatically
Orientation is Key
Something to keep in mind is that your site can be viewed in either portrait or landscape view on a tablet. This will be a battle for you to determine two things:
- Do you want your site to respond to the change in orientation? Or
- Do you want to present your content in the direction you deem to be the best way to view your site in?
Some people do not like sites that change orientation. If they are viewing something using a tablet while commuting, for example, there might be vehicle movement that will shake up the screen. Your site changing styles might disorient readers, so do checks for the best viewing orientation for your website.
Mind Your Navigation
Navigating content on a tablet is different for when a user uses a PC. They have a different mindset when using a tablet, and you should be presenting them content that you think they would want to see. Get creative and test this out (by using a split-testing tool or other methods). Change your calls-to-action, image galleries, and more to show content that your users want to consume.
Also, it’s good to know if your users would prefer sticky navigation or not. It is sometimes annoying, but for others, it makes browsing your site way faster. Consider looking into this and implement sticky navigation accordingly.
Try Swiping Instead of Scrolling
Another reason to try and convert your site to an adaptive design is to implement certain features that will only be available for tablet users. One of these is the ability for people to swipe instead of scrolling.
Tablet users do not conform to traditional rules of content viewing. So having your site be delivered in a manner that’s comfortable to them is the way to go. Try getting your web developer to use CSS and HTML5 to present your content in a paginated manner, and allowing users to swipe to change pages. These make reading content way more comfortable to use, which is very useful for reading-heavy sites like e-magazines.
Guide Your Users
People are inherently used for viewing websites using a computer screen. They might not know how to navigate even the most well-optimized site for tablets. Thus it’s a good idea to leave some instructions on how to operate and navigate inside your website.
Google News has done this before by displaying an arrow to the right of a tablet screen. This arrow indicates that a user can swipe right to check the next page. Another thing you can do is to put a pop-up notice that guides users on how to use your site’s interface. That notice is a small, easy addition that goes a long way if it means that users can stay on your site longer, and possibly be returning visitors in the future.
To Wrap Everything Up
Making your website look good on a tablet is a challenge, but something you should look into doing. If you feel that most of your users come from this specific device, then having all of these changes might be worth the effort. Here’s a quick TL;DR of all the topics covered just in case you are on a tablet and are too busy to navigate and read through all of them.
- Site Design Styles
- Responsive – site layout changes depending on the browser size
- Adaptive – site layout changes depending on the resolution of the device in which your site is being viewed in
- Standalone sites – displays a standalone mobile-only site, outdated
- Make your site touch-friendly – implement ideas on the notion that tablet users use touch functions
- Orientation is key – you should pay attention to what orientation (landscape vs. portrait) you want your site to be viewed in
- Mind your navigation – present your content to your users using a navigation style that is optimized on a tablet
- Try swiping than scrolling – tablet users often prefer swiping as its more comfortable to operate the device this way. Make use of that fact.
- Guide your users – teach your viewers on how to use your site comfortably
There you go! We hope this helps, and if you have any more questions, feel free to comment down below.
8 thoughts on “How to Make Your Website Look Good on Tablets”
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Hi there, thanks for posting such an informative post regarding website UI. I think many developers forget about tablet while making websites. There is large community that should be kept in mind that uses tablet. Loved reading your post.
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Honestly why are web developers such complete morons for the past 5-7 years?
When will you people understand, people do not like stupid gimmicks just because it’s a tablet or a mobile phone. Whenever businesses change their website to be “mobile-first” or “mobile-optimized” the end result is that it looks absolutely horrid on a traditional PC or desktop, it looks absolutely horrid on a tablet, and it looks absolutely horrid even on a smartphone. Designing websites that are completely vertical with too much empty whitespace, have ridiculously huge images/videos/etc., and require shitloads of scrolling is not an optimal viewing experience on *any* device.
Websites peaked when PCs were still the king, because then you could tell your phone browser to ditch the always-inferior mobile site and go straight to the desktop site. “But it’s too small…” yeah that’s why zooming in exists. It’s so much easier to zoom in to the part of the page you want to be at then scroll down for 5 minutes and not even know what will be down there when you get there. Now of course, they just screwed over everybody and you have the awful mobile site no matter what device you have.