We all know that the Apple iPad has set the world abuzz. Fans have praised the tablet computer as a revolutionary, game-changing device, while critics have pointed out that it’s no more than a giant iPod Touch. In any event, the impact of the Apple iPad on how we share, consume, and publish online content can no longer be doubted. It will change, if it hasn’t already, the way we use the Internet – especially if the iPad becomes widely adopted.

That’s why – if you run a small business or work as an Internet marketer or web developer – it’s important to think about optimizing your website or blog for the iPad. After all, more and more people are using Apple devices to surf the Web: part of engaging with and reaching out to these users is providing them with a smoother, glitch-free experience of your website or blog.

Forget Flash

Apple emphasizes HTML5, CSS, and Javascript – but not Flash, the code that lets publishers embed and run videos and fancy introductions and other rich media on their website. That’s why Flash-built websites appearing on the iPad will have a blank blue box where page elements used to be – a blank blue box that can cost you a conversion. If you want to render your website or blog iPad-friendly, then you might have to get rid of everything that’s been built around Flash.

Don’t feel too bad if you’d have to do a complete overhaul – because even without the iPad you might as well be due for an upgrade. Flash continues to be non-searchable anyway, which means that if you embed content using Flash code, you’re not exactly positioning yourself to be found by search engines. Upgrade instead to HTML5 or some other non-Flash framework, as this allows you to reach mobile traffic as well as iPad search traffic.

Test how it looks on iPad

The first step is to test whether your website or blog looks just as it should on the iPad. Even if you’ve built a mobile version of your site and it seems to look perfectly fine on the iPhone, it doesn’t mean you won’t encounter problems on the iPad. Of course, this also doesn’t mean you actually have to buy the device in order to test how your content shows up on the tablet computer. A free online tool called iPad Peek should do the trick. All you have to do is enter your URL.

Simplify your links

The Apple iPad and the iPhone make use of multi-touch screens – which basically means that the hover effect or the dropdown effect on your links won’t work as well as when users are brandishing a mouse or a pointer other than their finger. So it’s time to stop burying links with text and start simplifying them for easier, smoother navigation.

Check out the plug-ins

There’s been a flurry of iPad plug-ins for people who want to optimize their websites for the device. Be on the lookout for the one that fits your requirements. Depending on the Content Management System that you use – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, among many others – these plug-ins let you detect which browser or device your visitors are using to access your site. That way, you won’t have to take more than one afternoon optimizing your website or blog for the iPad.

Adapt to the screen resolution

This is something that you can tell your website designer as you build or redevelop your website. Apple iPad screens have different widths that depend on whether they’re turned for portrait or landscape orientation, so it’s recommended that you create your site content in a way that it can adapt to the screen resolution. One way of doing this is to resize your site to 980 pixels wide or less. Also, if you’re using CSS, remove any fixed positioning properties. Not only does this get rid of overlapping site elements that might make you look unprofessional; it also makes for a more fluid design – as though you have been building your website or blog primarily for the iPad.