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Design for Mobile, Tablet, or Touch?

boggsoncouchOver the past several years smartphone and tablet adoption has taken off and companies have struggled with the question of how to adapt to this growing mobile commerce, or “m-commerce” marketplace:

“We have a website for our products/services that works well; should we design for mobile or tablet next?”

Most often, the answer is “Yes”. In some cases, a responsive design is appropriate and will serve both mobile phone and tablet users well. This is where many companies stop asking questions. They jump into design and development and are then confused about adoption rates not meeting expectations. The followup questions to ask are:

  • How can we enhance the user experience for our customers while taking advantage of the touch interface of phones and tablets?
  • How will users interact with our products/services on phones and tablets?

When considering these questions, two important answers will arise that will define your development path forward.

Design for Touch

First, it comes down to a more macro perspective of “Design for Touch” as a differentiation from desktop/laptop based website browsing or applications, rather than being confined to a specific type of device and it’s hardware specs. Design for the finger, hand, and stylus instead of the mouse. Design for gestures as appropriate. Take advantage of these differences and use them to enhance your user’s experience.

Design for the Usage Environment

The second answer revolves around usage and interaction. We’ve found often that tablets aren’t really used as mobile devices. More often than not, they are communal devices most used around the home. For example, iPad usage centers largely around the couch, in front of the TV. Insights like this that can be uncovered during user research can help your company tailor its content and functionality appropriately for specific device’s apps or websites.

Sync Everywhere

The most important part about expanding your firm’s brand to smartphone and tablet devices is connectivity. About 50% of adults in the U.S. have a smartphone or tablet, and many have more than one. Improve the user experience of your brand by providing a platform that syncs data between devices. Whether a user picks up a phone, tablet, or laptop, they should find a seamless transition between those devices, even if the tasks they complete on each are different.

Test, Update, Launch, Repeat

When you’ve designed and developed something that you’re proud of, it’s time to test it and confirm the user research that went into the direction of the app or website. As new devices are released each year, it’s valuable to test early and often to keep in tune with both your users and the current device landscape.

It all comes back to listening to your users and understanding their needs, both met and unmet, when branching out into mobile devices and tablets. Providing for those needs by using a device’s features to create a delightful user experience will create a win-win for your firm and it’s customers.

Want to understand your customers better? Call us today @ 770-391-1099 or send us an email contact@userinsight.com.