Before 2010, web design was scaling up. With monitors increasing in size and resolution, graphic designers were interested in making the web browsing experience as rich and expansive as possible. Now, however, designers are rethinking the way they are creating websites. Although only 5% of Americans own a tablet according to Neilson, the market is growing and many companies are predicting that this percentage will only increase. In fact, PC sales are already declining in measurable numbers. This growing market is putting pressure on developers and designers to tailor their style to fit the parameters of the new tablet specifications.
No More Mouseover
With tablets it is impossible (at least for now) to hover over a link in the same way that you can on laptops or PCs. Because there is no mouse, there is no way to position the mouse over a link before clicking it. This means that all mouseover effects must be deleted from tablet-friendly websites and replaced by simpler buttons with no hover state. As tablets become more and more prevalent, mouse over effects will likely disappear from many websites.
Bigger Buttons and Links
Because tablets are touch-input only, many websites now boast larger buttons that are more finger-friendly. The average finger needs buttons to be at least 20px for easy finger clicking. Of course, if buttons and other navigational links are too big then the website looks strange larger screens, so designers must find middle ground that pleases both the traditional PC user and the tablet early adaptor.
Important Content is at the Top of the Page
Just as the fold was re-imagined when print-based media became web-based, the concept of the fold is changing again. When looking at a newspaper, it’s simple to determine what content exists above and below the fold in the middle of the physical paper. When this concept is extrapolated to web design, however, it’s a bit more difficult to determine what content a user sees when they visit a website. PC and laptop monitors come in many different sizes and display pages differently from each other. Tablets complicate the issue of the fold even further. Tablets come in a wide variety of sizes and display content both vertically and horizontally depending on how the user is holding the device.
Because there is no way of precisely determining the fold on websites viewed from tablets, web designers must make sure that any important content is towards the top of their website to make sure that it is visible on all devices.
Say Goodbye to Flash
Although some predict that the iPad’s market share is going to decline, iPads still own 75% of the market in the tablet division. This means that developers must create websites that are Apple friendly, which means, of course, forgetting about Flash. Many websites today run on HTML5 or another Apple compliant language in order to make sure that apple users can browse their content properly.