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I have 3 versions of my website (a dating site) :

1 - "full" version - shown on desktops

2 - "tablet optimized" version - same as #1 except for bigger fonts, shown on all tablets

3 - "mobile" version - shown on all mobile devices - totally different layout than #1, #2, fewer features

I've recently purchased both a (full-size) iPad and a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab - #2 looks and works great on the iPad, but I find it to be a bit crammed on the 7-inch. I'm wondering if 7-inch tablets are more like mobile devices than tablets in terms of UX - I've tried out several major sites on the 7-inch :

cnn.com, bbcnews.com - full version of their site is shown

match.com, google sites - mobile version is shown

I know there is no one-size fits all answer, but I would like to hear other people's experiences and decisions regarding smaller tablets.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It doesn't matter which size you use on the 7 inch device as long as you provide an easy way to switch between the different versions. Nothing is worse than being stuck on an "optimized" version of a page because the server is totally sure you need to have that on your device.

Also reduced feature set for the mobile version is a big no, you can reduce design and maybe split some single pages into several for easier navigation, but you should supply the same content as on the large version. At least as a button to view "full details" or something like that.

There are also a lot of websites out, where you can't zoom, so if the text is really small or something like that you can't zoom in to read it. Adding buttons to increase/decrease font-size is a nice feature because many mobile browsers don't offer that natively.

Answering your question: Use the full desktop version as default, you can tilt a 7 inch device to landscape and see all.

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From my perspective, 7" tablets are like a really big phone. I've never been a fan to be honest because they're too small to be as functional as a tablet and too big to be as portable as a phone. That being said, they are very relevant for some people so my recommendation, as I basically stated at the top, would be to use your phone site for 7" tablets. This is because it's better for things to be more spacious than cramped. As you said, it does depend on what your site is like and what it's for, but I've found that web development using a mobile-first, responsive design can help in these situations because if neither site suited you, you could add another breakpoint and rearrange things a little to make it nicer for 7" tablet users specifically.

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Thanks Seth, I did consider having a separate "small tablet" version, but the overhead of maintaining another version does not justify it's cost, at least so far (small tablets are about 2% of overall traffic, but growing) –  Sherif Buzz Jul 22 at 16:02

This is a good question. In the sense that its the context that defines everything here. Since you have mentioned its a dating site, the numbers of users using the site is expected to be considerably high and also there would be a lot of activity on the site as well (consider the slide movements, occasionally text input, sorting, filtering, and so on.. ). Considering all this having a native app for the mobile or handheld devices would be the most ideal. Although, the website could be responsive or specifically made for the mobile, having a native app is way better than the website - giving the users a much better experience in every way.

Theres an excellent Google Talk video of Jakob Neilsen talking about designing for mobile and such devices - http://youtu.be/sELOUAmFHjA . Its a good talk to listen to.

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Thanks Vinay, you're absolutely right, an app is the way to go, and that's under development, but won't be out till about 2 months from now. –  Sherif Buzz Jul 22 at 17:19
    
In that case, I would really suggest that you wait for the app to complete and launch it to public users instead of hurrying into releasing a mobile version of it. The users who might check the mobile site and are not so ok with that might resist looking for an app later... I am not saying you might lose those users, but theres a chance for that happen. A small risk to say. –  Vinay Jul 22 at 17:22

Screen size doesn't matter, at all. What matters is screen resolution which is almost independent of screen size. Back in tha days I had a 15" monitor with the astonishing 600 by 480 pixels. Imagine that on your 7" tablet and people would laugh.

So what you do is determin layout based an screen width. If screen width is 1024 px wide and more: use desktop CSS. Between 1024 px and 640 px use tablet CSS, and below that mobile CSS. No need to worry of screen size.

Take the above screen width suggestions as suggestions. Need to change them? Do whatever fit your layouts.

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1  
My phone has a resolution of 1280 wide; are you seriously saying millimeter sized (but high res) buttons would be the best layout for me? –  Richard Tingle Jul 22 at 20:02
    
Hi Benny, the browser resolution of the Galaxy Tab 7 inch is 1024 x 600, which suggests to me that they want to show a allow a browser experience. –  Sherif Buzz Jul 22 at 20:02
    
@SherifBuzz I think that is the point of tablet. Not to have a "tablet view" but a full browser experience. written on iPad Mini –  Benny Skogberg Jul 22 at 20:06
    
@RichardTingle Yes I'm serious. Often "mobile experience" means hiding useful elements, and I'd rather zoom to hit a small button than find it isn't there... –  Benny Skogberg Jul 22 at 20:11
    
I agree that full site should always be an option. But taking stack exchange as an example; its much easier to interact with in mobile mode because buttons are of an appropriate size. It would be interesting to see if there are any statistics as to user preference –  Richard Tingle Jul 22 at 20:14

Non of the above...

There is nothing more frustrating than a site deciding to downgrade you to a different view, just because the designer decide to make 2 (or 3) versions of the site. Clicking the "request desktop version" after every link (e.g. LinkedIn mobile site) is extremely annoying and some sites even have different URLs altogether for the mobile versions, thus completely breaking the "request desktop version" (e.g. a local railway site).

Instead use responsive layout based on the viewport's width (not the screens resolution). You can do this with easy to you, great frameworks e.g. Zurb's Foundation.

Additional benefits:

  • Zoom/DPI sensitive - Desktop (and mobile) users with low DPIs (high zoom) e.g. vision impaired users can see a suitable version and not have to scroll horizontally or have the site cropped.

  • Window size/layout sensitive - if I open up two windows, side by side, and one is your site, it will adapt to the space I give it.

  • Orientation sensitive - the width of a 7" vertical screen vs a 7" horizontal screen is very different.

  • Touch sensitive - using a responsive framework, you can replace controls with touch friendly versions or increase padding when your user has a touch screen, whether it is a desktop monitor, a laptop, a tablet or a phone.

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