Creative Considerations for the iPad

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painter_smallADOTAS – There is no doubt that Apple once again moved the needle and generated a new level of hype around mobile devices.

In fact, in the first hour after the iPad launch announcement on Jan. 27, Mashable reported an average of 3,000 tweets per minute about the soon-to-be-released device. Flurry reported that the number of iPhone developers adding tracking codes to new projects nearly tripled during the month of January, a sign of substantial iPad anticipation.

As the executive creative director at POP, a Seattle-based digital agency, I’ve lead teams that helped Fortune 500 brands craft and implement their mobile marketing strategies. If you work in mobile, your phones were probably ringing almost instantaneously as Steve Jobs left the stage. Clients started asking us for strategic counsel on the iPad, and since then we’ve been imagining and creating iPad experiences that fit into their larger marketing strategy.

Here are some creative considerations I’ve taken into account when developing for the iPad:

Take a holistic/cross-device approach: While consumers are eager to devour this exciting new device, it’s our responsibility as marketers to take a step back to ensure the brand experience is cohesive across all digital and traditional channels.

The experience should be customized for each individual device, but absolutely must deliver the same level of experience quality that the consumer has come to expect from your brand. A consumer’s experience on a mobile device is ultimately a reflection of their relationship with your brand and a poor experience on one mobile device can actually degrade the brand.

Enhance and expand the iPhone experience: Be careful not to simply reproduce your brand’s iPhone app on the iPad. The iPad offers a unique set of features and functionality; capitalize on them to enhance your brand’s mobile experience.

Consider The New York Times demonstration at the iPad launch event. The experience reading the paper’s content was more similar to how we read a physical newspaper today — but on steroids — than the current NYT iPhone experience.

Unlike the linear, static iPhone app, users can interact with the Times on the iPad, pulling up photo galleries, scaling text and utilizing video integration. The iPhone app works very well for the platform it was built on, but if you were to replicate it on the iPad you’d be missing the enriched experience that lives up to the device’s potential.

Stay true to your brand: As creatives, it’s all too easy to get caught up in trying to replicate Apple’s way of design: simple; beautiful; approachable.

Don’t get overly enamored with these attributes alone; remember to keep your brand values and brand in the forefront when approaching design. Yes, consumers will be interacting with your brand on an Apple device and will have certain expectations for the design and experience, but you still need to align the experience uniquely with your brand.

Add an element of surprise and delight: Don’t miss an opportunity to make your application memorable. The hardware and software of the iPad allows us creatives to step outside the bounds of the expected and take a typical interaction and make it unique and fun. The shake functionality Urbanspoon incorporated into their iPhone app is a simple yet noteworthy example.

Time is of the essence: Like any new technology, being an early adopter of iPad apps will have its advantages and disadvantages. Before diving into development, take a minute to weigh the pros and cons of timing. Launching an app in stride with the iPad’s release can generate buzz around your brand and help you stand out among the sea of apps that are sure to follow.

Look at the success Shazam has experienced on the iPhone. Released a mere 16 days after the launch of the App Store, Shazam capitalized on the unique capabilities the iPhone offered, successfully capturing the essence of what consumers could do with the device while delivering a fun and useful experience. Being an early adopter put them on the map for most consumers.

Yet, it can also be beneficial to wait until you’ve had a chance to design for an already-available device. Patience equals perfection. The longer the device is out on the market, the more informed our design decisions can be. Apps featured in the iPad launch event were completed with only two and a half weeks of development time. Imagine the potential of the apps this device can deliver after we’ve had six months of time to develop on it!

There continues to be new and different ways for consumers to digest information. The iPad is leading the charge, literally putting information at consumers’ fingertips. Following these guidelines can help you capitalize on the iPad’s unique feature set by building apps that are smart, easy to use and, most important, of good value to users.

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