The Nielson Norman Group decided to do a study where they looked at how usable an iPad is on different websites. The study's goal is to see whether an iPad could one day possibly be a complete replacement for desktops and laptops. It also compared the iPad to the iPhone, in terms of web browsing experience among other things. At the end of the day the research above all, was trying to determine the usability of an iPad.
The first studies for this research was conducted a few weeks after the release of the iPad. This already raises problems with me, because I do not believe that is enough time for a learning curve but I digress. The other issue would be who is it that they surveyed? If it is a younger demographic, they will be able to adjust to the iPad easier than an older demographic. The study says it used a grand total of seven people for its research which is way too little for a real study. Surveying one person above 50 is no way to get an idea of how an entire demographic would react to a product. I also found their methodology interesting, because they had people who have possibly never used an iPad before mess around on one. While I understand the appeal of asking people who have never used a product before, I think it is unfair to base decisions of user friendliness based on first time usage. I say this because every product no matter how customer friendly has some sort of learning curve. Having said that the intention of the study is noble, but I do not think it was executed properly to say the least.
Inconsistencies of App Usage
Websites and the iPad
One of the biggest advantages of the iPad over the iPhone is the screen real estate. With a much bigger screen navigating websites is not only easier but it also is easier to navigate the browser website rather than the mobile version of the website. These are clear advantages of an iPad over an iPhone but still compared to a browser on a laptop or desktop it doesn't live up to the mark. I personally think that the article goes too in depth in to every little aspect that could make an iPad troublesome. In some sense the article is more trouble to read through when compared to the issues it discusses. One of the issues mentioned is inconsistencies with pinch to zoom, as sites that load things such as maps may pose an issue on an iPad. The research also mentions differences between apps, websites and possibly iPad specific websites. While apps seem to be the best option as they are built specifically for the iPhone/iPad, but that is pretty obvious and self-explanatory. It is interesting to see companies adapt to the needs of customers rather than the other way around, mainly because these technologies are very easy to adapt to.
Is This Study Worth It?
As I stated earlier, this study is much ado about nothing, I do not think pinch and zoom is a deal breaker for most people buying an iPad, and neither is the difference between desktop browsing and iPad browsing. I am pretty sure that most people buying an iPad realize that. I think this study needs to be reproduced with more people and the researchers should consider doing a study where they see how much users are able to adapt to the iPad in a month. Despite my criticism towards the research, I do believe it was a good effort, they clearly put a lot of thought behind the research and I find their efforts noble but wasted.