August 27, 2012 | JJ Cramer

A Difference of Experience: Tablets vs. PCs, Part 1


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When the movie Avatar was first released I anxiously piled the family into the car and hit the closest IMAX Theater. The line was long and we were packed in like sardines. But to see such a visually stunning epic unfold all around me was exciting, and to see the looks on my kids’ faces was priceless.

Remembering the IMAX experience, I rushed out to buy the DVD as soon as it was available. That night we all found our favorite spots in the family room and sprawled out on couches and the floor – wherever we were most comfortable – to watch the movie again. Granted, we don’t have a 97 x 76 inch screen or (as much as I’d like to) a wall-to-wall speaker system that blasts 18,000 watts of digital sound, but we still enjoyed it.

The same movie. Two very different experiences.

We need to think about the tablet vs. desktop/PC web experience the same way.  The tablet experience is a fundamentally different experience from a desktop experience. And not just different…vastly different. Because of this, the tablet experience deserves and requires a separate, credible, valid, sensitive, and precise measurement to accurately and reliably understand the user experience.  Simple.

Measure the Tablet Experience as a Mobile ExperienceBut for some reason it isn’t that simple. The problem is, there’s something happening in the marketplace – it’s subtle but it IS happening. What we’re seeing is that many companies don’t view the tablet as a mobile device and therefore don’t count it as mobile traffic. Some companies think that since they kick their full site to mobile devices, that it should be measured as a web experience. That’s wrong.


How do you know that somebody isn’t standing in your store, right now, with a tablet in hand looking up product information or prices (because there isn’t a sales associate to help them, or the store shelves aren’t labeled with the correct product info), find what they want and, in turn, purchase right there in the store? Maybe they can’t find what they want and leave. Or maybe they can’t find what they need and go to a competitor’s site, app, or store to make the purchase.

If you are measuring tablet as a web experience, HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Every one of these scenarios points to failed web experiences. And as more people adopt tablets, more of these scenarios will come into play. The more of these scenarios in play, the more skewed your data will be. The next thing you know you’re spending precious time and resources (a.k.a. MONEY) to fix a web problem that never existed. These are resources (a.k.a. MONEY) you could and maybe should be spending on training sales associates, labeling store shelves better, or making a kick-ass mobile experience.

So the bottom line is, whether you like it or not, tablets are mobile devices.  And while you may serve desktop web to tablet visitors, there are many reasons why this experience is not the same as a PC experience.

This is why you always hear us talk about the importance of using a trusted and tested measuring technology for every channel. You need to understand your customer, where they’re coming from, where they are going next, and why.

Categories: ForeSee Products

About the Author

As ForeSee’s Director of Sales, Mobile, JJ Cramer contributes to the development of institutional knowledge about the mobile customer experience, influences product innovation for ForeSee’s mobile solutions, and collaborates with ForeSee’s sales team to support clients. JJ has over 10 years of experience in digital research and is an expert in online custom research and customer analysis. JJ holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree from Springfield College. He is a former professional tennis player and has been with ForeSee since 2010.

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