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Posted By: Akshay Vazirani

When the rise of smart phones began in 2007 with the release of the iPhone, companies and designers raced to find the best way for websites to function on these new devices. Now, we are often navigated to the mobile version of the site. However, now that new studies are showing that tablets are expected to outsell PCs this year, designers and companies are faced with a new dilemma. How do we provide the best user experience for all platforms?

The main issues with delivering a desktop site to a mobile device or tablet are slower load times, inoperable flash or hover states, and broken images, videos, forms, etc. For these reasons building a mobile site is not an option anymore, but how you decide to build or redirect your site on tablets… the jury is still out.

Your options:

Responsive Web Design

Similarly to the way automatic doors open when they sense your presence, new design techniques have been developed to prevent that extra wait time that comes from transferring to a mobile website. Rather than being redirected and then having to click that hard to find "View Entire Site" button, why not make a website that knows how to be displayed without being redirected or on an app?

We can't just keep making new sites for every device that comes out. Responsive websites identify the screen size, layout and structural elements compatible with each device. By jumping ahead in trends, you'll save time and money by being prepared for the inevitable: an upcoming tablet nation. Consumers will be impressed by the user friendliness and innovation of your company.

Design a site exclusively for tablets

As you should know, Flash does not work on iPad devices and is not reliable on Android tablets. Flash websites can look gorgeous on desktops, but chances are, it doesn't work on tablets or mobile devices. Hover states (anything that needs a mouse to hover over it in order to trigger an action) are also nonexistent on tablets and mobile devices. For example, hovering over a menu to see sub pages. For these, you want a mobile site, but also a tablet site because the screen sizes are so different.

Another reason you might need a tablet version of your site is for more convenient usability. Some mobile sites rely on the way the user interacts with the device. For example, on an iPhone I mostly use my right hand to type or just my right thumb to navigate while holding the phone in my same hand. So how will usability be transferred to a tablet like the BlackBerry Playbook which has been built to be used with both thumbs? A site designed exclusively for users on tablets that are held in all different ways may get you those extra thumbs up.

Don't create a website for tablets

One of the top selling points of the iPad is holding the entire website in the "palm of your hand." Being able to literally touch and interact with a website already makes an impressive customer experience. Unlike smartphones, tablets are designed to function more like a desktop or laptop. Most would agree when I say that viewing a website on a tablet is much easier than trying to navigate through tiny buttons and painstakingly slow load times. If you can browse through your site with a breeze, why invest in something that you don't need?

So how do you decide? Take your site for a test run on a few devices. Pay attention to load time, forms, videos or hover states, and everything else that makes your website a desirable interaction.

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