The Multi-Device UX Design Solution: Why Tablet Is "Just Right"

  |  June 3, 2014   |  Comments

Tablets, which continue to eat up market share, are not just "middle of the road" options when it comes to design. They offer a "medium-sized" view that might be "just right" for all your digital touch points.

Website design and fairy tales; they're not all that different. And if we took a few minutes to do a multi-screen review of most websites out there, you'd probably stop rolling your eyes and agree with me.

Think about it: mobile is a little too stark and desktop is a little too cluttered, but tablet...that usually feels just right.

My adaption of Goldilocks and the Three Bears aside, you probably get where I'm going. Tablet, which continues to eat up market share, is not just a "middle of the road" option when it comes to design. It's a "medium-sized" view that lets you do several things:

  • Focus your customers on your main calls to action and value propositions.
  • Justify which of your site features are truly valuable to your customers.
  • Maintain the best possible site while lowering platform costs.
  • Spend that freed-up time and resources on creating a more personalized website experience for your customers.

Considering that tablets continue to attract more and more consumers (market share is up to 15.9 percent now, according to Monetate's Ecommerce Quarterly Report) and desktop market share is still dropping (down to 72.5 percent), this is about more than just serving your tablet customer. It's about answering this question, which has become a healthy debate within the user experience (UX) community: How do you create the best experience for your customer, regardless of what device he or she is on?

In fact, with device parity seemingly here to stay, you have to wonder if this is our latest version of "browser wars."

There is a faction in this debate that feels each device must have a unique design and layout. I'm not so sure about that; and if you try it, please let me know how it works from a budget perspective.

In the age of "redapative" design (responsive and adaptive), however, there are a lot of efficiencies that organizations can find with Web design. But the first you should bring to your UX project is an understanding of consumer behavior by device; there are dramatic differences in conversion and engagement across the three main device types, and you need to thoroughly understand what they are.

Once you do that, you can start aligning your business priorities with your customers' priorities. You'll probably learn that both are not clearly breaking through on each device. Solving that problem doesn't mean creating dramatically different experiences for each, however.


First, your customer is getting annoyed at re-learning your site experience depending on the device they're using. Second, cost and maintenance. If you take a single site and produce three deeply varied experiences, you need to build, QA, and maintain three times as much.

The tablet, then, might be your starting point.

Whether you are starting your journey into multi-device site experience or have the situation of three unique experiences, revisit your tablet site and see if it may not be "just right" for all your digital touch points.

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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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