Tablet Based Design – The Future of the Desktop

It’s no secret that every day, more and more people are using tablets and smartphones to replace their trusty (dusty?) desktops. With the technology of a desktop in the palm of their hand, why wouldn’t they?

But should those of us that design websites and applications, be designing exclusively for mobile? Or is there a way to marry the desktop and tablet? For those of us in the design world, best practices tell us that designing for mobile doesn’t always work on the desktop. After all, each device has its purpose and there are certainly tasks that are better performed on larger screens like making purchases, writing papers or creating detailed presentations, to name a few. But, who’s to say we can’t design for a desktop as if we were designing for a tablet?

At Ninthlink, our designers encourage and often practice, tablet based design. What I mean by this is they encourage the desktop experience to mirror that of a tablet by taking features, often exhibited on a tablet, and implementing them on a desktop.

Our Creative Director, Matt Stallings, weighs in on why the marriage of the tablet and desktop is a good idea:

  • You can fit a lot more content within a widescreen design.
  • Most brands or companies should not be pushing more than 1-2 major decisions on their audience at one time. By keeping information justified within the screen size, the user can stay focused on one idea at a time and the designer can figure out how to grid the page in a clean flowing way.
  • We (designers) love having navigation/UX dictate how a company wants their user to navigate through pages, sales, content, etc.
  • You don’t always have to give users an overload of textual categories. You can lead with one CTA and an icon that says menu or use visual icons that suggest exploration to the user. If the only thing the user sees is a logo and 4 icons, they are more likely to explore all 4 of those categories.

As mobile devices continue to supplant PCs (103 million people in the US have tablets or eReaders), we will continue to see a rise in mobile and tablet inspired design. The following are great examples of tablet inspired websites with added commentary from the Ninthlink design team. Check it out!

World Wildlife “Uses a clean left side drawer navigation that slides open and closed. Visually rich interaction with content and designed to fit perfectly within horizontal tablet dimensions”

Build In Amsterdam  “Love how it keeps all design within the horizontal screen and every hero slide stays full screen and doesn’t visually scroll.”

In 10 “Another Grid that is nice. Uses full screen fluid grid, meant to fit into a horizontal tablet screen. The homepage keeps you within the horizontal dimensions. It doesn’t need to scroll up and down.”

Google Ventures “Simple, tablet inspired website. Has some nice functionality and side drawer navigation. Used this as inspiration for a client site I designed.”

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