This blog series will look at some trends in devices, design, usage, and social media activity and how those trends affect small business web design.

John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine, had some good things to say last Friday in his post 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2013.  We find #5 particularly interesting . . .

5. Tablet optimization becomes the mobile standard. 

We’ve all been rushing around the last few years talking about optimizing everything for the mobile device. The other day I witnessed three different women fish tablets from their purses while they were shopping.

The new generation of mini tablets are going to impact responsive design and what we’ve been calling mobile devices. Tablets and mini tablets will see a tremendous jump in server logs and become the de facto design standard for mobile content. That doesn’t mean mobile phone size browsers aren’t important, it means there will eventually need to be a divide in how we address tablets vs. phones.

Our recent study of web usage in the region showed that mobile web browsing has doubled in the past year.  When we look at analytics for our clients, we are indeed seeing a jump in tablet usage.

So what does that mean for small business web design?  We’re already designing websites that are mobile-responsive, but there is a big difference between viewing a site on a smart-phone and a tablet.  We have to start considering a third usability layer with it’s own nuances.

This blog post by John Koetsier for has some good insight into how to design for tablets . . .

What works better on tablets? Simple, clean user interfaces with large, obvious, and well-spaced navigation and controls. Go easy on the interactivity and the heavy-duty plugins.

The tablet-based design is built around touches and swipes, not clicks.  That’s why Koetsier talks about “well-spaced” navigation.  Your fingertips are less precise than your mouse.

Many folks hold tablets horizontally instead of vertically and we’re seeing big pushes toward magazine-style layouts with full-screen images and left-right navigation, like you’re turning the pages in a magazine or book.

We’re already seeing some of these trends become prominent in some of the biggest sites on the web.  In this series of posts, we’re going to take a look at’s massive new design overhaul that launched a couple of months ago.  We’ll discuss how their new design signals some shifts in the future of small business web design.  In Part 2, we’ll look at some of the specific tablet-centric elements in the new USAToday design.  Stay tuned . . .

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