Is the time now?

Everyone should be thinking about it, but whether you should be engaged now or preparing for the inevitability of it becoming an integral part of your testing programme should be weighed carefully.

Do you have the traffic along these devices? What is the revenue potential? If you’re a retailer, consider that you could be getting less traffic via tablet than mobile, but because of the tendency of tablet owners to drive higher average order values, the overall opportunity with tablet could be more lucrative.

The tablet owner generally has more disposable income and drives conversion rates that are closer to desktop than mobile, potentially even higher in some cases. Smartphones are used for more than just m-commerce – depending on your business; your main goal may be to facilitate visitor usage of store or branch locators.

Dialling wands and getting dumped

1. Fix and test the things that are ‘broken’

I am not one to endorse the use of an optimisation solution as a glorified Content Management System (CMS), but there are many companies settling for semi-malfunctioning tablet and mobile user experiences. If you are thinking “yes, we really should get X and Y fixed for our mobile users”, then you are not alone.

The idea is that you could be using your solution to fix or improve simple features on your site that aren’t optimal for tablet and mobile devices. You probably haven’t got around to it yet because it’s lower on your list of priorities and the main website is your priority.

While that is completely understandable, some of these issues could be causing your visitors to abscond — and teleport — to your competitor’s site whose mobile experience is much better than yours. Effectively, you have just lost a lead, or revenue.

So consider fixing it, and testing it. There could be some important usability learning that could be translated quickly to other pages without having to wait another three months or maybe more for your next release cycle.

Recently we designed and built a mobile-friendly homepage for one of our customers. Through simple best practices – prioritising the most important function for users (search) and reducing content distractions – the result was an impressive +60% lift in searches, and a significant increase in exposure to their product set.

Through such a project, you can solve a host of problems that plague the mobile user experience today – fat finger syndrome (or what I prefer calling DWS – Dialling Wand Syndrome), reduction of thumbos (thumb + typo = thumbo), clutter, small font sizes and links being too close together.

Then there is the question of accessibility – are you delivering flash-enabled movies or photos to mobile and tablet visitors? This will be more of a priority for you to fix if you receive substantial iPhone and iPad traffic. For tablet traffic in general, however, chances are the majority of your traffic is iPad traffic because of its current supremacy in the marketplace.

Don’t do what this luxury brand (we’ll call them ‘Shmartiay’) has surprisingly done, given they’re a luxury brand who likely have a sizable chunk of iPad traffic, and completely ostracise visitors who use devices that are not flash-enabled.

It would be very simple to use an optimisation solution to replace the below black-screen-of-death with a more acceptable image and message.

But while Flash can be a no-no, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pushing video. 87% of UK iPad owners watch YouTube (Online Publishers Association) – video can enhance your brand, grab the user’s attention and be very convincing in attracting new customers.

Image viewing technology is not optimal either on many mobile and tablet sites – fixing it could translate into a quick win. A number of sites have ‘rollover to zoom’ functionality that simply does not work as it should on mobile and tablet devices (can you even ‘rollover’ on a touchscreen device?).

Proper accessibility to high resolution imagery could be the difference in a sale for some travel and fashion brands.

2. Be creative

It’s the era of tablet and smartphones. Translation: things are relatively untested in the site optimisation space – be creative, innovative, do whatever you want.

We all know that calls to action should be big enough to be visible, and easy to click on – whatever the device. In a small screen, the importance of the call to action is all the more important. It needs to stand out. While you don’t want to throw some of the standard button best practices completely out the window, there is more room for creativity.

Why not a ‘go to next step’ button on your basket page in the form of a slide action? Test it out. Make the experience truer to the touchscreen device.

Consider the impact of TV50% or more of tablet usage happens in front of the TV . We often see that connecting offline advertising to your online brand works.

Consider your campaigns carefully in association with tablet users – you could influence the user right there. Make sure URLs are easy to remember and type in.

Maybe you have optimised to the perfect size for your navigation links for tablet users. But have you thought of whether you have them in the right order? Have you prioritised adequately for tablet? Remember our current tablet demographic – educated professionals with more money to burn – maybe you should be prioritising your higher-end range products to these users.

To find out what the other two considerations are you will have to check out my third and final blog post of the series.