5 Design Tips For Creating A Tablet Friendly Website

Tablet Browsing
2011 has been the year of the tablet as an increasing number of internet users (millions of people) have begun browsing the web on an iPad, iPad 2, Amazon Kindle Fire or various Google Android based Tablet devices. With the increase in tablet use one thing has become certain, website designers must be willing to create a website that is ready for tablet based user interfaces. Here are a few tips to get you started when designing a website that is both functional for a traditional browser and a tablet.

1. HTML5 Integration

Whether you want to admit it or not Adobe Flash has become a nuisance for tablet web designers. While Flash looks great when used on traditional devices and Google Android based systems it can’t be utilized on Apple devices and therefore your website won’t properly display many videos and other flash based elements. HTML5 integration on the other hand allows videos to play on most devices while providing a less resource heavy option that allows tablet users to save on battery life.

2. Use Adaptive CSS

Tablet users are no longer bound by a fixed resolution and therefore using fixed template sizes limits your ability to create a robust design for your users. In this situation you should consider using Adaptive CSS techniques. If you think of a tablet as a device of limitless output possibilities fluid design elements quickly make sense. One methodology used by professional designers these days is known as adaptive design methodology in which certain CSS and Javascript elements are only shown on browsers that can support them, using this method some users receive a more rich or “complete” environment while other users receive whatever their browser/device can support.

3. Friendly Navigation

When using a tablet many users find it cumbersome to click on small links when navigating a website, for this reason it is a smart idea to create larger than normal categories at the top of your website to ensure easy top level navigation. Another option is to offer finger swiping navigation capabilities to more easily browse through pages found on the website. The most popular example of finger swiping for navigation purposes comes from the Flipboard application which allows users to navigate through posts as if they are reading pages from a book. The idea behind friendly navigation on tablets is to offer easy access to sections with the press of a finger. My personal favorite method for front page navigation is to provide a thumbnail interface in which articles from the websites frontpage are ordered in thumbs which are easy to press because of their increased size over word based links.

4. Tweak Your Form Fields With CSS

This is one of the most overlooked areas of tablet website design I have found to date, while a simple contact form may look perfect on your website there’s a good chance once the forms fields are shrunk down on a tablet or mobile device they will look out of place. The easiest fix in this case is to reduce the number of fields used in web forms however when that is not possible wrapping your contact elements in CSS and designing them around your website design for tablets is a good way to ensure your forms stay fresh and ready for use.

5. Don’t Crowd Your Pages

That three column design that looks decent on your laptop is not exactly tablet friendly. Because your website will scale down on most tablet devices the moment a user loads your website which crams content between left and right sidebars they are already battling to find and zoom in on your content while it competes with other elements. In the case of developing a website that works for both a desktop user and a tablet user the “keep it simple stupid” method is a smart choice to make. As an added bonus when you scale down your sites output you reduce server load which in turn helps pages load faster, an important aspect for many tablet users who may not be connected to high speed internet options at all times.

Tablet devices have “dumbed down” the electronics industry by offering less robust (in some aspects) yet far more functional computing, therefore it only makes sense that the browsing experience on tablets should also be scaled down while implementing more functional design applications. While there are many web design standards you can use to create a useful and enjoyable tablet web browsing experience the options listed above should point you in the right direction to get started.

Do you have any favorite tablet design options you’d like to share with our readers?






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