How the Apple iPad will affect the way we make websites

3 Feb 2010Shaun read

With their hugely popular iPhone and iPod touch, Apple has transformed the way people see smart phones. Even if you do not own an Apple device, many similar devices (e.g. The Palm Pre, Android, future BlackBerry devices) use the same core technologies to browse the web (a browser called WebKit, on which Safari is based). Where Apple leads, others follow, and you can expect more news on tablet computing devices to spring up from other companies. Now is the time to make sure you are ready for this big shift in browsing the web.

If the iPad takes off and becomes a big player in the handheld computing market, then there are a few things you will need to take into consideration when getting your website designed:

It’s a big iPod touch, but it runs the full web

Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad is not intended to run mobile-optimised sites. With its 1024×768 resolution, the iPad is fully capable of displaying full web pages. Along with its ability to zoom in with multitouch gestures, there will be no need to scale your website down at all.

All of the websites designed by Rubious are designed to be displayed at a minimum of 1024×768 resolution, so we already have the right workflow to accommodate the iPad’s screen.

One consideration which is worth thinking about is the iPad’s lack of any “mouse hover” . Many websites are designed with drop-down menus which require the user to hover their mouse over the item in order to see the entire list. These will not work on the iPad, as there is no way to “hover” on a touch screen.

The iPad does not support Flash

The debate over whether this is a waste of an opportunity or a huge success for open web standards is rife on the internet, although our opinion is that this is fantastic news. With Flash not being very accessible, search-engine friendly or efficient, we have never been big proponents of it, and have limited our usage of Flash to simple website animations and video. With the iPad using the Safari browser, which is one of the world’s most advanced browsers and has support for great javascript animations and HTML5 video, the need to use Flash on your website will be greatly reduced.

What this means is that anybody with an all-Flash website needs to seriously consider making an HTML alternative site. This should already have been done for accessibility reasons, and because the iPhone and iPod touch do not support Flash either, but if the iPad becomes popular your website could soon get left behind.

It also means that anybody who is in the market for a new website should choose not to rely heavily on Flash, and to try and future proof their site with technologies such as HTML5 video.

The iPad uses the Safari browser and Mail app

These are the browser and mail client of choice at Rubious, and so we are very familiar with them. All our websites look great in Safari, and our email marketing is perfect for Mail.

If your web designer does not use a Mac, they might not be familiar with these applications and so they may have never tested how your site looks and functions in Safari. Now is the time to make those checks. If needed, you can download Safari for Windows but nothing beats the experience of running it on a Mac.

Conclusion

This is an exciting time for website developers as more people will gain a handheld web browser the web will continue to grow and become even more of an important part in people’s lives. If you want to know how your website will fair come March when the iPad is released, contact Rubious for some advice.