Take the tablet

1st January 2012

The rise and rise of a new device form

Roping in Danny Wyatt from Design Services, we put together a story showing the mounting evidence that tablets (from ipads to the Kindle and a myriad of other Android devices) are here to stay. Not just here to stay, but according to the stats we uncovered during our research, rapidly elbowing the desktop PC and laptop out of the way. We called our webinar ‘Take the Tablet’ and set about sharing some of our learnings both from our work with Sitecore projects and research done by others.

In terms of the market for tablets, the numbers reported do vary but the tipping point is rapidly approaching – when tablets outsell their rivals and take poll position as online device of choice. IDC predict that already in the 4th quarter of 2013 more tablets will be sold in the UK than laptops and PCs combined. Given the Tesco Hudl and the Argos device, this will only accelerate – and that’s without the rumoured £29 device on the way.

It turns out that we are using these devices in almost every space in our lives, from the sofa to the kitchen and our bed. Not only that but we’re multi-tasking and sharing our attention between the tablet in our hands and other interests.

This is brought home in a fascinating study conducted by Google in the States, which takes a snapshot of consumer behaviour around their tablets. With video diaries and logs they recorded how and where people use their devices.

So it is no wonder that the experience on the tablet has to be clean, intuitive and focused with this lean-back mentality. User expectations are high. They have been raised by years of being able to perform tasks on the PC and laptop – and users expect the tablet experience to be as good if not better.

For our webinar we looked at the recent ‘tablet first’ build of Nutrition Expert for Healthspan.  It was a useful backdrop to discuss some of the subtleties of design and build for tablet and mobile. Danny gave some good examples of where it can go wrong and the philosophies around ‘content first’ for multiple devices. One of the things I picked up was to work with the strengths and weaknesses of each device and to use native functionality. So ‘pinch and zoom’, swipes and hovers all need careful consideration. Give users the experience they expect on each device and don’t reinvent the wheel. For Nutrition Expert these factors were magnified given the fact that their audience are mainly seniors. This is a demographic that has embraced the tablet, often bypassing the PC completely.

The other big learning for me was the use of terms like adaptive design and responsive web design (RWD). Like most emerging language these terms get coined and then evolve to mean different things. At Kagool we have discovered that there are very different understandings of these terms in our customer base. And with practically every new project citing tablet and mobile excellence as critical success factors we need to be very clear about what it is we are designing and building for what end user benefit. It goes back to knowing your audience, knowing your goals and having the people and tools to convert these into actionable insight. Oh and doing that bit properly also set you up nicely to use Sitecore DMS. Which Nutrition Expert does rather well too, but that’s another story.