iPad. How tablets will change the web

The waiting is over! Apple have just announced their much anticipated tablet, iPad. What do you think? Will you be getting one?

Context of use

I did wonder what the purpose of tablets were. What do they give you that a laptop and mobile don’t? The answer is portability, speed, lightness and a large direct touch interface. In my opinion, tablets will be used primarily for personal use in the home, such as lounging round on the sofa surfing the net, playing games or reading an e-book (use cases whereby a laptop would be too bulky but a phone wouldn’t give you the screen size to enjoy the task). The iPad is perfectly aimed at the majority of home users who just need a device for web surfing, playing music, watching movies, storing photos, playing games and more fun stuff!

How tablets will change the internet

Web pages are currently designed for mouse-based scrolling interaction. Most users have mice with scroll wheels. This makes scrolling quick and efficient, so web pages are often designed to be scrollable, thereby fitting more content onto a single page.

Tablets require a different interaction paradigm due to their touch user interface. To use the flicking gesture to scroll would be tiresome, frustrating, even dizzying on a large device such as the iPad. The ideal interaction style for a touch tablet is for the whole web page to fit the tablet screen, the user then sees an overview of the page and can zoom in to the areas they are interested in.

Apple have priced the iPad very competitively, they want the iPad to be a household device. Judging from the comments i’ve seen so far on Facebook and Twitter, people want one! It really could be the next big thing.

Be prepared, if it is as successful as the iPhone, you will need to think about the design and interaction of your website to make it more ‘tablet-friendly’.

Tablet-friendly design:

– Remove (or limit) scrolling
– Each page fits the tablet screen space (remembering portrait and landscape modes)
– Design for a ‘zoomable’ interface
– Think finger-friendly hit areas
– Don’t overcrowd the page. Draw the user to where you want them to click by using space, pictures and larger text size.
– Don’t make text titles too small. Users should be using the ‘zoom in’ action because they want to read more, not because they can’t read the text.

More on the iPad to come!

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