I’ve always been phobic about very long pages that people have to scroll a lot to read, but with tablets a sweep of the finger makes it easy – in fact, much easier than it is to tap menu tabs. One of my clients is going down the route of a single long scrollable page with sections featuring the content that would normally be on separate pages. However, he’s also installing a menu that takes the site visitor to the right ‘page’ if they choose to tap the menu tab instead.
It’s all about how we use our viewing devices. Not so many years ago website menus were on the left – I’m not sure why as that it is the furthest point from where most people’s cursor sits when using a traditional computing set up. I’d hazard a guess that someone used ‘reading logic’ and thought it should be where the eyes go first. That was before it was discovered that we don’t read websites like the equivalent paper document, however, our eyes do tend to go the left first – to read, but when we want to take action it’s not the natural place for the mouse to go.
Most of us ‘park’ the mouse on the right near the scroll bar, so it would make sense to have the menu on the right – but in tests right hand menus are often not recognised as menus. We’ve learned that menus are on the left, or more commonly today a horizontal bar underneath the brand banner. But now we have the ability to move things around with a sweep of a finger things are changing. Big blocks are much easier to tap than skinny little hyperlinks in the text, scrolling is easier than tapping menu tabs, the way we scan is different on a tablet to a traditional fixed screen.
What does this mean for your website?
That’s a really tough one to answer. A good web developer will ensure your site is optimised for both phone and tablet, but short of designing two completely different websites it’s difficult to sit comfortably on the fence between desktop and tablet. If you’re creating a new website then choose your designer and developer very carefully and ask them the questions about how their proposed design will behave on a tablet or phone. It’s no longer an optional extra – tablets are becoming the way we work.
P.S. As a copywriter I have to mention content – and it’s still a critical factor in how the search engines rank your site. A clever design will allow you to have both user flexibility and sufficient specific and relevant content to get your site the right kind of brownie points on Google, Bing and the others.