Posted January 31, 2014 5:06 pm by with 5 comments

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usablenet tablet browsingI’m going to say this one more time: a tablet is NOT an overgrown smartphone. An iPhone app with a 2X option is not the answer. A mobile site that expands to fill the bigger screen is not the answer. As a matter of fact, a survey from Usablenet says that thinking Smartphone –> Tablet is just wrong, wrong, wrong. The people they surveyed said online sellers and content providers would be better off going from Desktop —> Tablet, creating a similar or identical experience on both devices.

When asked what matters most, a combined 60% of respondents wanted their tablet experience to be the same or nearly the same as their desktop experience.

At first, I thought this was odd, then I thought about my last few trips down iPad lane. The majority of apps and some of the websites I visit are laid out differently than the web versions. The action buttons are in different places and not all desktop options are available on the tablet. And I only just realized how many YouTube videos aren’t available to watch on my iPad.

The more I switch back and forth, the more I notice these difference and my annoyance increases. If the button is on the left on the web, I want it on the left on the right! I understand that there are size issues with a smartphone, but tablet screens are pretty roomy. . .

If you’re thinking of just pushing your website out to tablet users – think again. The reason we got into this mobile mix-up mess in the first place is because the code you use to run your website doesn’t always work on a tablet. The penalty for creating a bad or broken mobile site?

usablenet design mobileWow. Harsh. 67% of respondents said that a poor website experience would keep them from recommending the site to friends and family. Really? Did they actually have to ask that question? Of course they won’t recommend a bad experience. Which means you fabulous product will languish on the shelf because you went with the cheapest graphic designer.

Not what you wanted to hear, I know. But the internet has become a visual medium. Imagine shopping on a website without images. I don’t care how much you want that new CD, you’re unlikely to buy it if you can’t see it. You’re unlikely to even skim a website that’s all text in order to find it in the first place!

One last thought. Unlike desktops, tablets give us the opportunity to touch while we browse and shop. It’s not like putting your hands on a cashmere sweater in a store, but there’s something more compelling about tapping with your finger vs clicking a mouse. The tablet experience is casual and intimate. It’s the easiest thing to grab when your teenager runs by shouting the name of her new favorite band. Google search. T-shirt shop. Birthday gift. Done. And you didn’t have to move from the couch.

That’s the power of the tablet done right.

If you need some specific tablet strategies, you can download Useablenet’s free report right here.



  • I have to disagree with you Cynthia. I love my Nexus 7 and don;t ever expect it to be anything like my laptop/desktop.


    • cynthialil

      I hear you, that’s why I was surprised to see the results of this survey but when I think about how often I switch back and forth, I realize that there are areas that either match up and I love it or I wish they would.

  • mavtrevor

    I have to say that mobile experience can never ever match with Desktop experience for several reasons. A PC has the capability to process queries faster than a tablet, and speed is of the essence. Smartphones are not as good as PC and it will definitely affect the user’s experience when you think you can reproduce the Desktop experience on Mobile.

  • I totally agree!

  • ravellar

    hi , any news on Intel’s Magic Zlate 11 ?