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Brands Slow to Create Tablet-Specific Experiences

  |  January 30, 2014   |  Comments

Usablenet, a mobile and multi-channel technology company, released a new study today regarding user experiences on tablets.

It's been shown that consumers prefer user experiences that are tailored to tablets' unique functionality, but most brands lack the strategy to drive consumer satisfaction on tablet devices.

Tablet Use and Demand Increase

Usablenet, a mobile and multi-channel technology company, released a new study today regarding user experiences on tablets. From an online questionnaire of 100 retailers and 671 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K., the firm found that a combined 61 percent of respondents say, "I use tablet as much as my smartphone" or "I use it more than my desktop computer."

Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of respondents surveyed responded that they primarily use tablets to research products before buying online, to watch videos and browse photos, as well as to check prices and look up store information.


Additionally, 70 percent say that the quality of the photography and design of a tablet site influences their decision to purchase on the site.

Creating Tablet-Specific Projects Is Neccessary

Usablenet's study suggests that creating tablet-specific experiences is a worthwhile investment. In fact, more than 44 percent of retailers surveyed estimate that currently between 10 to 25 percent of their total traffic comes from tablets, according to the study.


The three most important satisfaction-drivers when consumers browse and purchase on tablets are:

  • Ease of purchase
  • Consistent content from the desktop site
  • Ease of browsing

More than two-thirds of retailers in the survey believe consumers want a browsing experience that is consistent with the desktop version, but customized for a tablet. Close to 30 percent think that consumers want a tablet experience similar to the smartphone.

After having an unsatisfying mobile experience, consumers are less likely to purchase from a brand, and will not recommend the brand to friends and family.

"This could affect a brand's ability to attract and retain customers," says Carin van Vuuren, chief marketing officer at Usablenet. "Brands must understand their users' current experience browsing the desktop site on a tablet in order to uncover areas of opportunity to enhance the existing desktop site, and help frame the opportunity cost of not creating an optimized experience for tablet users in terms of conversion, order sizes, and brand engagement."

Brands Recognize the Trend But Lag Behind

As the study indicates, brands realize that the growth of tablet use and demand represents a big opportunity for them in this channel. Nevertheless, a significant number of brands have not yet planned tablet-specific sites. The three top reasons given in the study are:

  • Too costly
  • Not budgeted
  • Do not have the bandwidth to manage a separate tablet site

"The main sticking point is typically choosing when to undergo the effort and investment to create a revamped website that can adapt to the specific device form factor," Doug Hopkins, director of user experience at digital marketing agency Isobar, comments on this trend.

Hopkins tells ClickZ that a tailored tablet website is not simply a tablet-friendly version of the same desktop website. "Adaptive and responsive websites are designed and coded in such a way that the presentation layer -- the layer the user sees and interacts with -- changes its format and navigation behaviors based on if it detects a desktop computer, tablet computer, or mobile phone requesting the web page," Hopkins says.

"So companies typically will hold off on optimizing until they can re-think, re-conceive, and re-program their website to simultaneously serve multiple device types from a single base of programming code," he adds.

Recommendations for Brands

In the study, Usablenet provides three pieces of advice to help brands craft an effective tablet strategy:

  • Create content that is consistent on multiple devices yet makes more sense to tablets
  • Keep abreast of trends in multichannel and multi-screening behavior
  • Delve into user experiences -- assess what and why users are doing, as well as understand their needs across all channels (including apps)

As far as how to create sites that consumers award across channels, Hopkins suggests that the best practice is "from small to big" -- start the design process from the smallest form factor, smartphones, and then work up.

"It is much more effective to be disciplined and rigorous to rationalize what is truly needed at the smallest display size, and then design around that set of features," Hopkins tells ClickZ. "Typically there is a subset of what people will really want to use and engage with on a phone vs. a tablet vs. the desktop. It is best to start small before going big."

See a full version of the study at Usablenet.

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Yuyu Chen

Yuyu Chen is a junior reporter at ClickZ. Her work has appeared in Local East Village, New York Daily News and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce website. Yuyu received her M.A. in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University in May, 2013.

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