Tablet user interfaces should not simply be scaled-up phone designs. The tablet user experience is a separate creature, although it’s related to both mobile design and desktop design: user testing shows that many regular websites work fairly well on tablets with only a few modifications for tablet users.
This report is based on 6 rounds of usability studies with all the main tablet platforms:
- iPad (both standard-sized and iPad Mini)
- Android (many different models, including Amazon Kindle Fire)
- Windows tablets (including Microsoft Surface)
We tested both tablet-specific apps and how people use websites on their tablets. One of the key research findings is that many websites work fairly well on tablets and that tablet users view web browsing as one of their primary uses of their device.
This 207-page report contains 126 design guidelines based on our usability research. It includes 226 full-color screenshots of specific tablet designs that worked well or worked poorly for users.
- The main ways people use their tablets
- The strategy choice of whether to build a tablet app at all
- How to modify a regular website to improve its usability on tablets
- Skeuomorphism, flat design, and other design fads
- Full-screen vs. split-screen design
- Landscape vs. portrait device orientation
- Designing for touch and gestures
- Input widgets
- Forms design for tablets
- Registration and login forms
- Workflow for tablet applications
- Interaction speed and latency
- Sound effects
- Content and writing for tablets
- Tutorials and instructions
- Checklist of 126 specific design recommendations: Review your tablet user experience for these 126 items, and you will discover many things that need improvement.
- The average user interface design typically violates about half of our usability guidelines. You might have the one perfect site in the world that does everything right, but the odds are against you. It is safest to score your design against a checklist of usability guidelines to make sure you don't do anything wrong.
- Learn how people behave when using a variety of tablet sites and apps; and read comments and reactions to common design mistakes in the sites we tested.
- Take advantage of $300,000 worth of research at 0.07% of the cost.
- Discover the differentiating factors that caused site visitors and app users to complete tasks successfully, or not.
- 226 color screenshots from a very wide variety of tablet apps and websites, with descriptions of why they worked well or caused problems in usability testing.
- Methodology description to help you define the protocol for running your own tablet usability studies.
The findings in this report are based on empirical testing with a broad range of real users. In most of the studies, people brought their own tablets to the test, and we tested how they used a variety of apps and sites on that device. In some cases, we gave test participants newly launched tablet models to test their initial user experience with new designs.
All studies were conducted in the United States. The results will apply to users in other countries as well, based on our experience with testing mobile phone UX in a much wider range of countries and finding much the same behaviors everywhere.