Tablets. Love them, or hate them, lots of people have them and are using them. And using them to access Internet Banking, to name just one problem area. Because the thing about tablets, is that, well it's a tablet. It's NOT a mobile phone and it isn't a
laptop either. You can't just scale up a mobile app, and you can't just point it at a web site. So when you try to use a web application, let's say Internet Banking (because, for arguments sake, there isn't a mobile app, let alone a tablet app), it all goes
a bit wrong.
An obvious example is that fingers used for tapping need bigger targets than mouse pointers used for clicking (a slight change to "Fitts's law" needed perhaps?). Nielsen touched on this a year ago (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 10, 2010) and since
then people's expectations of web sites / applications on a tablet have grown.
I guess like most folks, I have more than one account with more than one bank - and NONE of the Internet Banking solutions work well on my iPad. Sure, they *work*, but they don't work well. Some, are actually pretty good and even handled orientation. Some
are really quite poor -don't even get me started on the Flash content (calm down Apple antagonists, I'm not going to get religious about it!).
Anyway, someone I know recently asked to take a look at a web application that had been ported to the iPad, "with my usability hat on". They wanted an "iPad enabled" version of their product and I immediately got slightly twitchy - the word "port" makes
me nervous, because for some reason instead of "to create a new version of (an application program) to run on a different hardware platform" (from dictionary.com in case you were wondering) what I hear is
"something crowbarred into something else because we didn't have the time / effort / money to do it properly".
I was right to be nervous. To their credit, the functionality was there, albeit rather slow (but then, it would be - wouldn't it!). Not much else to report that was good. The orientation features varied from ghastly to non-existent, there was no actual use
of the device features (no gesture / swipe support at all) and the buttons / links hand't really been changed to be suitable for a tablet device (i.e. my finger). I had to "pinch zoom" a lot just to use the banking features, and the buttons were too close
together, meaning that often the wrong one got the "tap". I could go on...
So doing it badly, worse than not doing it at all?
In this case, YES. The user experience was arguably worse than "just" having Internet Banking working correctly on Safari (as there were still a few issues there!). At least, my expectation would be lots of "pinch zoom" and scrolling, but I'm okay with
that as I have to do it on lots of sites. But having something that sort of worked at times, and not at others was actually more frustrating because it wasn't consistent (a big usability no no, and was actually THE major issue that made it worse!).
Oh, and it was only for iPad not for any other tablet....
So, if you want your Internet Banking on a tablet device, then please be kind and do it properly, get someone else to do it properly, or don't do it at all!