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Have You Got the Touch?

Touch technology is the wave of the future of computing, and not just in handheld computing.

The introduction of HP and other Microsoft based tablets at the CES this month, along with the rumors of the new Apple tablet set to debut later in January represent only the latest in the touch world innovations.

HP has a whole line of touch computers, including a line of sleek desktops, as does Gateway. Printers are adding web access with touch technology, and allowing printing directly from the web.

Additionally, you’re looking at faster cell phones with bigger screens, the netbooks, and the tablet PCs.

What does that mean for the web developer and the web commerce company?

More people will have quicker and more portable access to your websites. They’ll have the opportunity to interact with them in quicker, easier, more intuitive ways, if you’re ready to provide that capability.

For the web business concerned with ecommerce, think instant gratification for your touch customers. Is your ecommerce interface smooth and seamless? Will you be able to capture the customer’s purchase easily?

When developing for touch screens, remember that the input is very similar to mouse clicks, with only a few differences. However, you’ll want to make sure you allow for those differences.

For example, design your onscreen buttons slightly larger than you would for mouse clicks to accommodate fingers. You may also need to think about providing your own status feedback (loading, etc.) since the touch screens don’t provide that information.

While it’s useful to keep in mind that previous versions of the “slate” or “tablet” computer has not taken off with consumers, there’s no doubt that innovation in the mobile computing area is the current game.

With the indisputable success of the iPhone and iPod touch, technology companies seem to have the attitude that bigger will be better when it comes to portable touch screens. There’s no doubt that bigger will be better for many kinds of websites, especially those that are graphically and textually heavy like print news websites. Magazines and newspapers could benefit from larger tablet computers, as could many other sites.

Regardless of whether or not the tablet/slate computers take off, the touch technology is here to stay, and will only become more popular. Adjust and plan so that your website has a seamless ride into the touch era of computing.

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