With the imminent release of the Apple iPad, the publishing industry is about to take yet another giant leap into the digital space. So how can you prepare your site to take advantage of the hype, and also create a great web experience for your future iPad-using visitors? Simplistically, you can liken Apple’s tablet to a giant iPhone or iPod touch. However, the much greater screen and the improved multi-touch functionality will likely impact the way users interact with the device, and consequently your website.
Without having an iPad in front of you, there are still a few things that you can consider when preparing your site.
First, if your site uses Flash, now is the time to think about a move to open web standards. Just as with the iPhone, the tablet will not support Adobe’s proprietary format. The pad instead favors the potent HTML 5 standard for interaction and H.264 or MPEG-4 for movie viewing. And in the process you’ll likely increase the SEO of your site.
Second, the screen, just shy of ten inches, comes packed with 1024 by 768 pixels, which is similar to many netbooks. While the densely placed pixels will allow users to view sites in full-size with sharp text and detailed images, developers must make sure that even people without 20/20 vision are able to overview the content without having to zoom in and out all the time. Although you want them to interact with your site, you don’t want them to grow tired with “pinch fatigue.”
Apple’s Safari browser does a great job at rendering ordinary web pages, but sites that will excel in user experience are the ones leveraging the uniqueness of the iPad. The addition of a GPS will be key in delivering local content to increase relevance and user experience. And any iGadget user will also have gotten to expect the swiping gestures to change pages or flick through images.
Although there seem to be plenty of interest for the iPad and other tablets, in reality it will take a long time before most general sites are likely to see significant number of visitors via these devices. But being quick off the mark has many advantages, one of them being that you can start the optimization processes early and provide a highly polished and refined user experience that will stand out against the competition once the iPads of the world achieve mass-market appeal.