Nothing frustrates the mobile consumer more than forcing them to view your desktop site on mobile.

Today’s consumers are educated and nimble on mobile and their expectations are significantly heightened when engaging a brand on tablet.

With 43% of tablet users spending more time on tablet than on desktop, companies are increasingly optimizing tablet browsing and shopping to make it easier for consumers who want a seamless experience across all channels.

To create an experience that is engaging and contributes to the bottom line, brands need to consider how to optimize for tablet.

Here are four insights into what consumers want on their tablet, and how to offer a seamless experience on this critical device.

1. Don't ignore what consumers want

If you travel, you already know that today’s consumers take their tablets with them wherever they go. 

With tablet shipments reaching 150m in 2013, consumers are actively choosing to browse the web on these devices, and brands need to craft an appropriate strategy tailored to this channel. 

Customer research into tablet engagement preferences point to the fact that consumers value tablet experiences that are relevant to their context of use.

When it comes to satisfaction when using tablet, there are three primary factors that customers demand:

  • Ease of browsing.
  • Consistency of content from desktop experience.
  • Ease of purchasing. 

These are all a direct result of crafting a tailored tablet experience with context in the forefront of planning.

For example, 2013 was the first year that consumer spending on tablets surpassed mobile phones, and during the most recent holiday shopping season, 19% of purchases took place on tablet devices.

Consumers are making an active choice to shop on tablets as opposed to other channels.

Users will respond better if your tablet experience takes user preference and context of use into account.

2. Do not short-change UX

77% of consumers report that having a poor or unsatisfying experience while trying to use a website on their tablet will affect their willingness to purchase from that brand.

To this extent, brands need to keep UX top of mind. Here are the top must-haves:

  • Tablet site design needs to be visually clean and simple without excessive copy, links, or pathways to other sites. This is where traditional desktop sites do not perform well on tablet. 
  • Consumers need to be able to navigate a site seamlessly, as they are often using their tablets on the go. Companies must make the tablet experience simple, yet effective. Easily lead customers to wishlists, shopping carts, and purchase pages.

    Remember that navigation on tablet is not hierarchical but fluid, and users expect key journeys and page views to be optimized for tablet device capabilities, such as how the presentation adapts based on device orientation.

  • High quality images are a must. 70% of consumers say that the quality of photography and design of a tablet site influences their decision on whether to make a purchase.

    Tablet web users value the aesthetic of the tablet experience, as the device is also used for activities that entertain, like watching videos and gaming.

  • Touch and gesture-based interactions are essential. Users do not use a tablet in the same way as a smartphone.

    There should be no requirement to pinch and zoom, rather, brands should prioritize swiping and scrolling through visual displays and content.

Users prefer an optimized tablet UX that is tailored to the unique characteristics of the device. Creating a intuitive, touch-based experience that is easy to navigate should be a top priority on tablet.

3. Do not mistake consistency for continuity

While users want the same content on tablet that is available on desktop, they want that content displayed in a way that is true to the qualities and capabilities of the tablet device.

Text-heavy desktop experiences on tablet are not effective as it looks cluttered and disorganized and could end up scaring off browsers and shoppers.

It’s a delicate balance to provide content similar to the desktop experience, while also presenting it in such a way that is optimized for context, user goals, and device capabilities.

When it comes to content, brands need to always keep in mind the end goals: seamless experiences, ease of browsing, and ease of purchase.

UK-based online retailer Avenue 32 is a great example of a brand that saw noticeable sales results after optimizing for tablet. With more than 20% of overall web traffic coming from mobile devices, Avenue 32 realized it needed to create a more compelling tablet experience.

The brand introduced a mobile and tablet experience combining product with a strong editorial focus. For its tablet experience, Avenue 32 created visual content paired with text that offered customers relevant product information and inspired them to stay longer and visit more pages.

Overall, mobile and tablet traffic for Avenue 32 rose 74% since launch and the brand reached a notable 89% increase in mobile and tablet conversion rate since the sites went live.

4. Don't ignore the power of multiple channels

We live in a world of multi-tasking. Consumers choose to engage with brands in different ways, on different devices and different screens, and they demand the ability to move seamlessly between each device to complete tasks.

Research shows that a combined 42% of consumers already use their tablets more than either their smartphone or their desktop computer to make purchases.

Home Decorators created a tablet-specific site after noticing that customers visiting the full ecommerce website on a tablet were converting at a much lower rate than shoppers visiting from a PC.

The company created a unique tablet web experience that not only had large visual navigation and UX to make it easy to discover new products, but also emulated a more catalogue-like experience. 

After rolling out the tablet site, conversion rates were about 15% higher on the tablet optimized site than the rate for consumers who just visited the regular desktop site from their tablets.

Additionally, the average order value was about 20% higher and pages per visit 10% higher on the tablet-optimized site compared to when consumers use the desktop site on the tablet.

Customers deserve a unique tablet experience

The key to creating an effective tablet strategy starts with paying close attention to how your customers are using tablet devices to connect with your brand, and using that knowledge to influence user experience design choices.

A successful tablet strategy will go beyond larger buttons and resized images (although those are essential!)  to creating an experience that is user-centric (first and foremost,) and delivers what users want on tablet.

The results will speak for themselves.

Carin Van Vuuren

Published 24 March, 2014 by Carin Van Vuuren

Carin is Chief Marketing Officer at Usablenet and contributor to Econsultancy.

6 more posts from this author

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Comments (7)

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Luc Behar

Hi, very interesting article, thanks !

I visited the two referenced sites : avenue 32 and Home Decorators. For avenue 32, I can indeed what stroke you as a great tablet experience and why it must have increased the conversion rate.

For Home Decorators however,, I don't notice particular difference between the tablet and website experiences, and if you had not mentioned it as an example, I would have judged it rather poorly designed for tablets (I'm using an iPad air). What stroke you as particularly good on that site ? Am I looking at the right website?


over 4 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Carin, I would agree completely with this:
"Text-heavy desktop experiences on tablet are not effective as it looks cluttered and disorganized and could end up scaring off browsers and shoppers."

I think that assumes that test-heavy sites work for desktop; however, I think that many desktop sites would be a lot better if they were de-cluttered. People often don't read text on ecommerce sites, no matter what the device.

over 4 years ago



Its getting the balance right, for example the new Marks and Spencer website offers a terrible user experience across tablet and desktop. Responsive design is not always the correct choice.

over 4 years ago

Carin Van Vuuren

Carin Van Vuuren, Chief Marketing Officer at Usablenet

Luc - thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right about Home Decorators --- we are refreshing the UX and right now the desktop site is what's being served on tablet :) We will soon be releasing the next version of the Home Decorators tablet site.

over 4 years ago

Carin Van Vuuren

Carin Van Vuuren, Chief Marketing Officer at Usablenet

Stuart and Cheryl -- thank you both for your comments. I think the discipline of designing for smaller screens (mobile and tablet to some extent) has made consumers more discerning in evaluating sites. The days of cluttered sites, poor navigation and inside-out thinking are numbered!

over 4 years ago


Thomas Paisley

Brilliant piece Carin.

'Paying close attention to how your customers are using tablet devices to connect with your brand, and using that knowledge to influence user experience design choices'

So many businesses don't do this when the tools are available to them to access this information. Making it as easy as possible for a customer to use your site from their tablet (not just their mobile) really adds confidence and ultimately trust in the brand long-term. If it was an easy experience, people will no doubt will not hesitate to come back with they know the experience is so swift.

over 4 years ago


robin schwartz, Community Manager at Appsee

This is a great article, but I actually think something is missing - you talk about providing UX and giving customers what they want, but you miss how to do it. There are incredible mobile analytics tools out there that can delve deeply into what's working and what's not, particularly with visual mobile analytics. provides that sort of thing -- they have video playback and everything to show you exactly how a user is interacting and where in the process things stop working.

over 3 years ago

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