Monday, May 31, 2010

Concern over Apple iPad Safari browser for businesses with web sites

I recently noticed a problem with the Apple iPad browser, which for businesses with web sites, may be a concern. Here is the problem.

An iPad enthusiast purchases a $1,000 iPad. They then go to a real estate site to search for a property. When they try to select the options in the search criteria, such as the property type, or the suburb, they can’t. To the iPad enthusiast the site doesn’t work and they may move on to another site.

Who does the iPad enthusiasts blame? Do they blame their iPad’s browser for not being able to work with a site which works with desktop browsers (including Safari for the Desktop), or do they blame the business for having a site that doesn’t work. Initially I suspect the iPad enthusiast won’t suspect their iPad is the issue, but over time as they visit more sites and find the same issue, it will become apparent.

If you run a web site it may be prudent to check your site. The area of concern are forms and in particular the drop down lists where users select items.

The good thing is your don’t have to own an iPad to perform the test. I initially found the issue using an iPhone so you can test your site using an iPhone.

I then went to the Doncaster Apple store and used one of their demo iPads to confirm the issue was the same on the iPad and confirmed the issue. An unexpected concern for me was this was the second day the iPad was on display and the iPad I used would no longer rotated the page from portrait to landscape when the iPad was rotated. Demonstration equipment in an Apple store is probably in one of the harshest environments, but for a unit not to work after two days concerned me.

For me an additional problem is I suggested that a client should purchase an iPad for demonstration use to their clients. However I now know their site will not work very well with the iPad and that may reflect poorly on them. I wasn’t aware of this problem and now need to advise my client to consider this additional information.

The good thing is it is easy to test a site using an iPhone. If you have problems displaying a site on an iPhone, it is likely you’ll have a similar problem on the iPad. If you are an Apple Safari user you shouldn’t assume because it works on the desktop version of Safari, it will also work on the iPad and iPhone version of Safari.

If you do have a site and feel iPhone and iPad users are important to your business, then it would be prudent to test your site using an iPhone and perhaps an iPad.

- Kelvin Eldridge

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