Tablets, smartphones and our site

We’ve tried to accommodate tablet and smartphone users by:

  • Ensuring pages resize gracefully for small scren sizes and changes in aspect ratio
  • Ensuring all links and popups work with as many devices as possible.

It’s obviously impossible to find out how the site performs on all devices.  If you encounter an issue, please let us know the problem and how to reproduce it.  It would help if you could provide an email address because we might not have access to your kind of device.

We know there’s a particular issue to do with mouse hovers.  We have menu items and popups that react when you hover your mouse over them.  Tablets and smartphones don’t have a mouse.  There’s controversy in the IT industry over how this issue should be handled.  In the meantime the vendors are coming up with their own (not very good) solutions:

  • If you use an Apple IOS device:
    • Tap a menu item or popup once to see the effect of hovering a mouse
    • If the item is also a link to a page, tap it a second time to go to the page
    • There doesn’t seem to be any way to dismiss a menu or popup once you’ve displayed it; if it’s in the way, your only option is to refresh the page
    • Note that there doesn’t seem to be any way for IOS devices to show submenu items to menu items unless the menu items are clickable; we’ve therefore had to introduce menu pages to make sure IOS users can see all our menu items.
  • If you use an Android device:
    • If a menu item or popup is not a web link, tap it to see the effect of a mouse hover
    • If a menu item or popup is a web link, tap it to go to the linked page – the popup appears briefly while the browser retrieves the linked page
    • To see the popup, press the link until a menu appears giving you link options and tap the ‘back’ button at the bottom left corner of the screen
    • To dismiss the popup, tap the page anywhere that isn’t a link (which includes popups that aren’t links)

Let us know if you have any other tips.  Any Windows 8 tablet users?

2 thoughts on “Tablets, smartphones and our site

  1. Hi
    Sorry :) but I disagree with “There’s controversy in the IT industry over how this issue should be handled.” – the answer is to think mobile first and not use navigation systems that rely on desktop functionality. You have done a great job making the overall site responsive to the client device but probably need to replace the menu with a responsive navigation system. BR’s

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      Yours is certainly one point of view, but it’s not the only one. Sites have been providing useful functionality based on mouse hovers for many years. There’s an argument that it’s unreasonable for manufacturers to pick and choose over which mouse functionality they support, reducing us to a lower common denominator than we had before.

      In the past I’ve implemented a virtual mouse for a browser designed to be used with a normal TV remote control – it wasn’t difficult. I can imagine several ways that could be done on a touch-based device.

      Hopefully, the menus are functional on all devices as they stand. We use a WordPress theme that has the menus built in, so there’s a limit to what we can do. We could do a better job if the manufacturers agreed on a common way to handle the issue – that would also be less confusing for customers.