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Optimizing Tablets for “T-Commerce”

Optimizing the new space for profitable user engagement.



By Stefanie Botelho
09/07/2011

Along with creating a user-friendly design, publishers are now faced with the challenge of optimizing e-commerce (along with the rest of their content) for tablets. Alex Schmelkin, president of e-commerce solution provider Alexander Interactive, works with brands like Lester’s regional department stores, e-commerce industry publication Internet Retailer and Adorama Photography on their digital presence.

Here, Schmelkin offers e-commerce designers solutions to smooth the transition to “t-commerce”.

Working Above (And Below) “The Fold”

On a desktop browser, users are often bombarded with links that are “above the fold”—the space on the computer screen before the user scrolls down to view more content. Publishers tend to jam this top portion with hyper links to other content and products.

Schmelkin says that with the tablet space, it is important to be aware of the size of the tablet medium (usually between 7 and 11 inches of space) when designing. “It’s important to minimize the navigation, and the clutter…with media sites like TIME magazine, there could be literally hundreds of links above the fold. This doesn’t work when it comes to the tablet. We need to prioritize to keep the truly most important info on top.”

The elimination of pagination presents a different dynamic for publishers as well, with page number clickthrough eliminated and the concept of “infinite scroll” introduced through the tablet medium. In this way, the top of the “page” is not immediately clear, and this factor should be taken under consideration when placing products for user purchase.

Responsive Layouts (And Ditching the Hover Trick)

As creative designers create layouts for the tablet, landscape and portrait options for user engagement are important to consider. These kinds of responsive layouts offer web designers more options for product display. Schmelkin says, “If you’ve got a bunch of products in a category when you’re working with an online retailer—when I switch the iPad into landscape mode, should product image [size] increase, or I should add another product?”

Other design tricks are growing stale. “Over the years, web designers have overused the concept of something big happening when you hover over a certain part of the page,” Schmelkin says. This pop-out action often includes embedded video content or discount offers. On tablets, users abandon their mouse and use fingers in a more tactile engagement, leaving designers without the option of hovering.

Present and Future Success Through T-Commerce

Real-time analytics on tablets is important not only for publishers and their editorial teams to consider (companies like Conde Nast are making the analysis of digital behavior a priority), but for creative designers behind advertising and e-commerce efforts to track as well. How users engage with the content, where they come from, where they spend their time and where they don’t are all factors important to the design process.

As for what’s next in the t-commerce space, Schmelkin believes stronger user engagement is the upcoming trend du jour. With cameras integrated directly into tablet casing, the possibility of users uploading pictures of themselves to virtually try on outfits or match their current home décor with samples from a vendor will personalize the t-commerce experience even further.

By Stefanie Botelho
09/07/2011







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