Whether you think that tablets are overrated giant phones or the revolutionary salvation of accessible technology, you can’t argue that they’re here to stay and their popularity is rising fast. A report by comScore in October 2011 found that nearly 7 percent of all internet traffic in the US was done through tablets and smartphones and that over 116 million people in the US own and regularly operate some form of mobile media device. Additionally, the average session on a tablet is over three and a half times longer than on a home computer. Whether or not the devices will end up changing the world is open for debate, but the fact remains that the web pages will soon need to be designed with them in mind.
Thankfully, when it comes to WordPress themes, much of the work has already been done. Attomatic, WordPress’s parent company, has released Onswipe, a plugin that will allow its 18 million blogs to be optimized for viewing on the screen of a tablet. Put simply, Onswipe takes your existing WordPress website and enables you to transform it into a tablet-compatible site, mimicking the style and features of the displays.
When using the plugin, the site will
- Adjust the content layout automatically, depending on if the device is being held in portrait or landscape;
- Allow the user to easily share desired content over Facebook, Twitter and email.
- Allow the reader to save the blog to their tablet’s home screen.
After Installation, there will be a box unambiguously designated “Display a special theme for iPad users.” You can give your blog a front cover – a 200×200 pixel PNG gives the best results – which could grant it certain degree of style if you want to give your site the feel of a magazine. After all, some circles are actively hailing tablets as the savior of the business and art of print media. You can also give the site a launch screen, requiring you to set a 1004×768 pixel image. Finally, set the font and its color, and choose one of the nine different skin colors available, hit “Save Settings” and you’re good to go.
While no consensus will ever be achieved over Apple’s stance on Flash, whatever your personal opinion, it’s necessary to accept a big chuck has been cut from the software’s practical viability. It seems that HTML5 has become the way to go, especially now that Google is utilizing it for YouTube. It may be time to accept that Flash is becoming a thing of the past.
Offer your readers downloadable content, such as PFD versions of the sites pages or important information regarding it. This will also allow them to store your site’s content for subsequent reading.
Since the primary user interaction with a tablet is physical contact, you may want to consider removing hover effects. Although the visuals were a nice touch when your site was being used with the dexterity of a mouse pointer, trying to do the same with the bulky tip of your finger will prove little more than an unnecessary hindrance.
Links within text will likely become annoying for users to attempt to jab in just the right place, unless you want to make them zoom inwards to almost unreadable levels. Likewise, increasing the size of the buttons will be a great help in navigating the site.
On the subject of buttons, ones for “Next” and “Previous” will help visitors to move efficiently through the site, instead of scrolling like mad to find the one fragment they’re looking for.
As sitting at a desk under the radiance of floor lamps is no longer the standard way to browse, and that is now several physical ways of viewing a website, the “Above the Fold” concept is gradually becoming obsolete. A portrait view can give a view of a good proportion of a site’s content, while a landscape view can feel more natural for browsing sites and scrolling though material.
Even though the usage of iPads and other tablet devices is looking set to increase almost exponentially over time, there is still some way to go before the back-end development of the browsing experience catches up with the visual features on offer by the advancing technology.