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Are Tablet Websites Important?

September 21, 2015

A good portion of this year, thanks to Google’s Mobile-gedden, has been spent talking to many companies about mobile usability and trying to determine what does (or doesn’t) make sense for that company’s mobile presence.

Somewhat ignored in the discussion I’ve had with clients and the broader discussion in the industry about mobile usability is the question of tablet usability. We all care about what happens with phones, but what about what happens on tablets? Of course, most websites that are designed for a laptop or desktop computer screen are usable on a tablet. As a result, not much modification needs to be done to support people visiting your website on a tablet device.

The bigger issue though is that tablets aren’t that significant a portion of web traffic. According to Stat Counter data, tablets account for 9% of web traffic so far this year while mobile hovers around 26%. Save for a few exceptions, my clients tend to fall in this range as well – there a few clients I work with who serve a somewhat older demographic that have 15-20% of visitors using a tablet device, but those websites are an outlier.

Web Traffic On Different Devices, Data from
Web Traffic On Different Devices, Data from

Of course in that graph, you can barely see the variance in tablet traffic. Pull out table to look at it specifically, you can see that after a rise in 2012 and 2013, tablet traffic has largely plateaued. Sure, there is still growth in traffic volume…but, that growth in raw traffic still keeps tablet traffic at or below 10% of total overall traffic. What that means is that the growth rate of mobile web traffic is far greater than the growth rate of tablet web visitors.

Tablet Traffic, Data from
Tablet Traffic, Data from

Do Tablets Matter?

So, do tablets matter? Should you focus on and create a tablet-specific website? Or is the desktop website good enough? On the balance tablet traffic certainly doesn’t seem to matter as much as mobile or desktop.

Of course, as with everything else, total traffic volume is less important than quality of that traffic. In reviewing the website’s I have access to, it seems as if desktop visitors and tablet visitors are about the same in terms of overall quality (how many pages visited, time spent on the time, read rate, scroll reach, conversions, etc.).

That said, if your tablet visitors have a lower quality visit to your website, then maybe it is worth investing in tablet. Of course, that assumes there is an audience there engaging with your company on tablet devices. But, if the volume is low (and decreasing year over year), then maybe your dollars are better spent elsewhere. By investing in supporting your visitors on mobile devices and desktop devices, instead of tablets, you can likely get a better return on your money.

Then again, is 10% an audience you can ignore and just say it is “good enough”? Even with that small percentage, we could be talking about thousands of people every month. Given that, is it worth investing in tablet to ensure that audience has the best experience possible with your company?

Next Steps

What I’d recommend is that you check your traffic data – how many people visit your website on a tablet device? Is that number growing or decreasing or staying flat over time? Even if the percentage is small, is it still a big enough number of people where it makes sense to invest in a tablet website? Plus, what is the quality of that tablet traffic – okay, good, or bad?

When you answer these questions, you can make an informed choice about whether or not you want to (or need to) invest in developing a tablet-specific website. As always, if you need help with answering these questions, please feel free to contact me.

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