3 Ways to Approach Website Optimization for Tablet Visitors

  |  July 3, 2012   |  Comments

The tablet must be looked at as its own channel that deserves an individual and unique user experience.

While some marketers may feel that they can implement the same strategies on both smartphones and tablets to increase conversion, the evidence suggests that this is the wrong approach.

It's important to understand that mobile phones and tablets are two separate channels. While it's easy to group them together, the tablet needs to be looked at as its own channel that deserves an individual and unique user experience.

Tablet Is Not Mobile

Say it with me, "The tablet is not the same experience as a smartphone!" The evidence shows that consumers use smartphones and tablets differently, which is why it's critical to build an independent strategy to optimize the website experience for tablet users. According to data from the recently released Ecommerce Quarterly (EQ), while overall traffic from tablet users has surpassed mobile, conversion and add-to-cart rates among tablet customers are much higher than smartphone users even approaching desktop levels.


Typically tablet users are multitasking, have the television on, and are browsing the web. They use the tablet as a secondary device that allows them to finish a purchase "thought," or truly have an impulse buy - the catchall is being called "couch commerce."

Online marketers must focus on how to optimize the tablet as a conversion tool and identify how to ease the shopping experience.

3 Steps to Success

The first step is to test your website with the two most popular tablet devices - the iPad and Kindle Fire - to identify the parts of your site that don't work as well on each of these devices. Make a list of what doesn't function properly - and fix it. For example, while most people know that Flash doesn't render on iOS, drop-downs and hover states often don't work on the iPad. Have several members of your team perform this task; the identified issues list will give you plenty of areas to start.

Next, dive into your analytics to identify the features and functions that tablet customers are using most often. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do a majority of tablet customers watch videos?
  • How do they engage with your search bar?
  • What are the most common payment methods?

Auditing your analytics will help you highlight common tasks and actions of your tablet visitors and offer you a roadmap of opportunity to optimize the experience for them. For example, if the data tells you that tablet customers watch a lot of videos on your website, consider introducing an auto-play feature or find ways to make the videos more prominent.

Finally, more advanced organizations should consider focus group testing where you ask individuals how they feel about the website experience on tablets. The focus group will help you prioritize the features, functions, and enhancements you need to deliver to improve the tablet experience.

Help Customers Do What They Are Trying to Do

As a marketer, it's very important to establish how you can enhance the main calls to action on the tablet version of your website to make it easier for customers to convert. For instance, if the main goal is for customers to add items to their cart, consider increasing the size of the "Add to Cart" button in the tablet environment.

It's critical to make sure that the most popular user activities are clearly highlighted on the page so tablet users can easily navigate the website. For example:

  • Increase the size of the search bar and incorporate type-ahead, predictive search functionality to make it easier for customers to search.
  • Accentuate third-party payment options to reduce the steps for customers to complete a transaction.

Also, remember that most people use tablets in landscape mode, which may leave extra screen real estate in the left or right margins. That provides you with the opportunity to highlight additional products or promotions you want to call out.

Make Optimization Your Priority

Keep in mind that the tablet is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to your mobile objectives. Looking at your tablet experience from three views - your own, the data's, and your customers' - will lead you to opportunities for improvement and optimization of the tablet experience. By taking this approach you will identify relevant customer experiences to enhance and increase return on investment (ROI) from tablet traffic in the process.

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Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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