Summary:

Mobify is betting that companies want to optimize their websites for tablet use in the same way many have modified their sites for smartphones. The company is releasing a tablet optimization product that makes it easy for a site to convert to a more tablet-friendly design.

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Tablets are finding their way into more homes, and they’re proving to be quite the ecommerce tool, helping boost sales for many retailers better than desktop and smartphones in some cases. But many big sites aren’t optimized for tablets; instead, relying on native tablet apps or just the regular desktop site.

Mobify, a Vancouver, Canada-based startup, is betting that companies are prepared to optimize their websites for tablet use in much the same way many have modified their sites to be consumed on smartphones. The company, which already helps optimize 20,000 websites for mobile phone usage, is releasing a tablet-optimization product that makes it easy for a site to convert to a more tablet-friendly design. Mobify joins other HTML5 publishing solutions like OnSwipe and Pressly that are helping websites optimize for tablets.

The Mobify tablet product simplifies the layout, reduces load times, optimizes text and introduces a gesture-based UI. Sites are also encouraged to use more pictures and can take advantage of image carousels and other widgets. The product is easy to implement with some HTML5 and JavaScript, said Mobify CEO Igor Faletski.

Faletski told me almost all sites haven’t made the leap to optimize for tablets because it’s hard work converting big properties. And many publishers don’t feel their desktop site experience is broken on tablets, so there’s no need to optimize. But he said sites are going to need to ramp up their efforts to appeal to tablet users, and it won’t cut it to just offer the same desktop site. Already, 10 to 15 percent of traffic on many Mobify sites are coming from iPads alone, said Faletski. And a recent Pew study found that the number of adults who own a tablet has increased to 19 percent in the U.S.

“A desktop website can work for now, and the buttons don’t break, but in a year or two, it’s going to be so competitive that if your site isn’t amazing, customer will shop at Amazon,” he said.

This may be a bigger issue for ecommerce sites, which are seeing more sales come from tablet users. As we’ve written before, the tablet is increasingly becoming the perfect shopping device. Adobe last month reported that tablet users spend more than 50 percent more for each transaction at an online retailer site than smartphone users and 20 percent more than traditional computer users. Adobe also found that tablet users were three times more likely to buy something than smartphone users and nearly as likely to convert to a purchase as traditional computer users.

I’ve heard from some publishers that optimizing for tablets is still not a priority, especially when many are still working on pushing out or perfecting an iPad app. But I think that solutions like Mobify, Pressly or OnSwipe will make sense over time because the same native apps are changing the expectations of consumers, who’ll increasingly want more of a tablet app experience wherever they go on the web. As for publishers, they can take advantage of web traffic and SEO better than they can through native apps. Some publishers may eventually look at just redesigning their site to be more tablet-like as a default, but many may consider an optimization tool first to help transition their sites to a more tablet-friendly world.

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