Web developers ignore the iPad at their peril

By Dawinderpal Sahota
13 Dec 2010 View Comments
An Apple iPad

Businesses need to place more focus on optimising their web sites for tablet devices such as the iPad, according to research from software-based application traffic management firm Zeus Technology.

The findings show that one third of the world's most visited web sites take more than a second to load on an iPad, with the average page load time taking 0.86 seconds.

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The results follow research from Amazon which revealed that every 100 millseconds of latency in page delivery time resulted in a 1 per cent drop in sales, and research from Microsoft which shows that a two-second delay in loading up a site results in a 4.5 per cent drop in revenues.

"These relatively innocuous increases in latency create a massive difference in the actual revenues achieved," commented Kosten Metreweli, chief marketing officer, Zeus Technology. "It's not just the immediate revenues that are affected, but actually long-term loyalty suffers as well because they're less likely to come back."

"What's really important from an iPad perspective is that UK shoppers are expected to spend £6.5bn online this year and, according to IMRG, 18 per cent is going to be generated using mobile sites and applications. So it's a significant amount of revenue that we're talking about and obviously it's growing incredibly quickly – retailers who ignore this market do so at their peril."

The research also revealed that the majority of the top visited sites globally are not offering a fully optimised web experience on the iPad. Some 82 per cent did not have any video on their iPad sites and one third (33 per cent) featured a video that would not work on the device due to compatibility issues.

"A large proportion of sites that use rich media, especially video, are not able to provide any sort of alternative for the iPad, and of course the iPad supports very specific videos and not Flash videos. On other devices, Flash sometimes works but as the device gets smaller and smaller, it performs less and less well."

Metreweli added that BBC's iPlayer site is a good example of a site optimised well for the tablet device. Not only does the site perform incredibly well on an iPad, with just 0.08 seconds of latency, but it also optimises content for the device being used.

"The iPlayer web site recognises the type of device you're browsing from, and if you're accessing it from a PC, it's a totally different experience to that offered by an iPad. What it presents on the iPad is something that looks like an iPad app but is, in fact, running in your browser."

He added that the introduction of HTML 5 and its rich functionality will make it easier for web developers to optimise sites across a variety of platforms.

"However, even with HTML 5, you still have to make sure that the site is performing. However much functionality the site has, if it's slow, then people are not going to use it."


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