Designing for tablets

Designing for tablets

With the latest Forrester research informing us that tablet penetration in the UK is set to rise from less than 5% this year to over 30% in 2015, brands have to sit up and take notice of the tablet and its massive potential as a marketing tool.

But by being at the front end of content production, brands are woefully unaware of the technicalities that need to be taken into account.

And seeing as though these considerations provide the foundations of a tablet-targeted production, they can affect the very nature of the content. So here’s a useful list of ten tips that brands – and their agencies – would do well to be mindful of, from Mike Woods & Quintin Willison at The Wall.

1. Tailor for Tablets

When publishing an app for both tablet and smartphone use, smart money says make a specific version for each. Although this might seem counter-intuitive when it comes to budget, the tailored approach saves on multiple copies of assets, to support differing screens sizes for example, having to be included in one universal binary code. A recent Android app that we created for Magners cider was incredibly problematic to produce as we had an ever-growing multitude of display formats to produce for. This can have strange effects on hitherto signed off design.

2. Mouse Trap

The world is no longer a simple place of mouse ‘down’ and ‘up’. One of the tablet’s most persuasive aspects is its multi-touch facility, with different platforms offering differing levels of support. When considering touch options, it’s wise to take likely user demographics into account.

Technically savvy parents must wonder how tantrums can be averted without an iPad; and young children – with their sticky and unskilled fingers – rarely manage a single delicate touch, instead presenting multiple points of contacts. Likewise, a tablet app is more likely to be shared on a group basis than a smartphone app, making a tablet the outright winner when it comes to multiple touch points.

3. Too much too soon

Many app developers fall into the trap of bleeding every inch of screen space to its max. But overcrowding and ‘Too Much Navigation’ (a problem so common it has its own acronym… TMN) bamboozles the user, making elements harder to recognise, use and manipulate. As with most things in life… keep it simple.

4. Get your buttons right

It’s easy to get seduced into thinking ‘more buttons = more fun’. But the optimum number of buttons for a good touchscreen experience depends on the size of the screen. Equally, the size of the button should proportionally relate to screen size.

As a general rule, though, bigger is better… without resorting to oversized OAP style mega-buttons, that is. Also, make sure you leave enough room around buttons to avoid accidental activation of neighbouring buttons. And if you’re still insisting on cramming them buttons in, make sure you include a back button. In fact, make sure you have a back button anyway. This is, perhaps, the first and foremost rule of tablet production.

5. Connect with their connectivity

If your app is likely to be consumed internationally, it’s wise to keep download times low. 3G and WiFi use in major territories such as the US tends to be capped or charged by the minute.

So an overly complex app involving lengthy downloads will put off some prospective consumers.

6. Size matters

Consider which asset sizes, for buttons say, are most appropriate for a high quality user experience. Different screens have vastly different definitions, as measured by PPI (Pixels Per Inch). An iPhone4, for example, has a Retina screen with 106K PPI, whereas an iPad has just 17K PPI.

7. Quick and easy or time to kill?

Is your content a quick and helpful ‘on-the-go’ guide, or are you targeting those people with time to kill? This will help define where the content is more likely to be consumed.

With smartphones being the tool of choice for the moving masses, tablet-specific productions are more appropriate for the type of content that’s likely to be consumed whilst idling in the living room.

8. Keeping them at a distance

Smartphones are used closer to the face, whereas tablets are held at more of a distance. This means the definition of tablet apps can afford to be lower.

9. Go Native

Do you want the shortcut route of taking consumers straight to your pre-existing website? And risk your PC or mobile friendly website looking messy on a tablet?

It’s far better to ‘go native’ by producing an app that can take advantage of platform specific features. This will result in dramatically improved look, feel and animation as well as enhanced push notifications and sharing facilities… in short, dramatically improved engagement.

10. Time is money

How long is the user likely to spend using this content? And how much are they likely to multitask while viewing it? This determines how long they’ll wait for elements to download… and therefore how complex and tricksy your content can be.

Source: FourFiveOne

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