Greg Sterling will be speaking at the “Mobile” session at SearchFest 2013 which will be taking place on February 22, 2013 at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click the following link.

1) Please give us your background and let us know what you do for a living.

I’m an editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. I also work as a senior analyst for Opus Research in San Francisco and I have my own consulting practice. I cover a lot of stuff but it all ties into online to offline consumer behavior and digital advertising.

For purposes of this interview I have to say that I’m not a designer or usability expert.

2) You recently wrote that 2013 is the year of the tablet. We’ve always talked about “getting your site ready for mobile”…how can a business make their site “tablet friendly”?

You can use responsive web design or create a tablet (iPad) app. There are also companies such as Pressly, Onswipe and others that will convert your site into a tablet-friendly design.

But more fundamentally you should consider your site from the user perspective. Use it on a tablet. What works, what doesn’t?

There should be no Flash, first and foremost, otherwise you’ll have a big blank square on your homepage. Also consider that your site will be used in landscape and portrait modes. Also imagine the site being used with fingers and thumbs. There’s more imprecision than with a mouse. Lots of dense text with lots of links could be a problem accordingly — or buttons too close together.

Make it so your site will operate easily without heavy pinching and zooming.

Images are very important to tablet users as well. They want rich, interactive environments. Make the navigation simple and obvious. There shouldn’t be too many fields and forms.

I hate to say it but most US tablet traffic is coming from iPads. So right now you should design for the iPad and the iPad Mini. Over time there will be more Android tablets that drive traffic.

3) When should a business consider creating an app and should they always make a version for both Android and iTunes?

Something like 80% of all US tablet traffic is coming from iPads. So Apple is still the most important app platform for tablets right now. Over time Android will become more important. But build an iPad first if you’re going to build one. Then take what you’ve learned and put that into the 2.0 version plus Android.

If you’re an e-commerce site you probably should consider creating an app for a fully optimized tablet experience. Tablet users convert at higher levels than PC users.

Having said that it may not be easy to get people to download your tablet app so you’ve got to have a tablet-friendly site. Which brings us back to question #2.

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