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Archive for March, 2012

I had the opportunity to attend BayCHI on March 20th, where Brennan Browne from AnswerLab presented three trendiPads and five lessons that user experience designers need to consider with tablet experiences. Although the focus of the research was on the iPad, I believe the research is largely extensible to other tablet platforms unless otherwise noted.

Here is a synopsis of the insightful talk.

Trend 1: Trading Computer Time for Tablet Time
Prior to introduction, there was a question as to whether the iPad was just going to turn out to be a big iPhone. That question has been answered with a big no. It has become more of a replacement for the laptop; not a rival to the smartphone.

Trend 2: The Tablet and Shared Experiences
The majority of people share their tablet, which means a big security question looms for iOS users since there is no multi-user account service built in. As a result, people are more reluctant to save personal information or authenticate.

Trend 3: Apps versus Web
People can access the web comfortably these days. The tablet-based web browsing experience is considered more pleasurable than boring old desktop browsers.

People need an incentive to download an App with the expectation that it provides more than the Web experience. That being said, Apps are here to stay. App enthusiasts exist and will remain.

Lesson 1: Small Laptop, not Big Phone
7-inch tablets are treated more like big smartphones, but not the 10-inch counterparts. The tablet is becoming more of a multi-use device and a replacement for a laptop/PC in many situations. Its portability makes it particularly useful around the house and in trusted locations with free WiFi such as Starbucks.

Lesson 2: Full Web
It is expected that the full Web is provided on a tablet, not a reduced set of content and functions. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve the Web experience on tablets with relevant tactile features.

Lesson 3: Content over Context
People use their tablets as extra portable laptops, but don’t necessarily bring them everywhere. This means that the tablet state and location dictating specific experiences are secondary to core functionality, rich content and a superb interface.

Lesson 4: Shared Device
The fact that the tablet serves as a shared device presents unique challenges, so be sure to consider how features and use cases (e.g. one click purchases) may be affected by multiple users sharing a single device.

Lesson 5: Security Fears
Security is a major concern for tablet users as many are still unfamiliar with the platform. Plan accordingly.

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