Photo from Blogging Project Runway

I love Tim Gunn and his signature line: "Make it work". (Almost as fabulous is Santino Rice's imitation).

It's a good mantra to keep in mind when you're developing web content. You've got to consider how it's going to work on a tablet. That seems obvious, but too many content designers seem to forget it. Be sure to check off that the design still works in portrait and landscape -- and not just that it looks pretty, either. Make sure people can actually see what's in the photos and read the content without having to do too much work. (Get more tips for content development tips here)

Case in point

This was really brought home to me earlier this week when I was at a three-day conference and living off my iPad most of the time (sure beats lugging a laptop!). Too often I came across pages that didn't work well in one orientation or the other. And more often than not, I abandoned the site and/or felt a little put out.

Yes, I know this seems like a small thing. Just flip the dern device, right? But we -- your audience -- develop habits and we don't want to futz around if we don't have to. So make that your job. Consider the audiences needs and values. You, the content designer, do the futzing so we, the audience, don't have to!

Tips for designing content for tablets

Next time you're developing web content, remember to check off:

  1. Images. Do they remain meaningful in portrait and landscape views? This also holds true for ads.
  2. Copy. Does the editorial content remain readable in either orientation? Does the key information (most important thing you want the audience to know, call to action, etc.) remain in the screen landscape?
  3. Functions. Do you lose your social sharing or other functions in one of the orientations?

We have various operating systems installed on the computers around the office so we can check off web content across the board. (I actually had to fire up IE the other day. GAH!) Now we've got tablets and their requisite OSes. You'll see us flipping those bad boys every which way to make sure that the mission-critical aspects of anything we're developing stays front and center no matter how you're holding your device. Sure, it takes a little extra time to our content development process, but it's worth it.