Responsive Design for Better Mobile User Experience

Problems with Mobile User Experience

As I mentioned the last post, I uploaded the new version of the Coffee Lounge website in February. The site has been responsive since the last summer, but user experience for mobile phone wasn’t good, so I decided to re-design the site.

Here is the list of problems with the old version of the site had.

  1. Connection Speed
    1. Total size of CSS files was too large
    2. Total size of image files was too large
    3. Total size of all files was too large
  2. User Experience
    1. Font size was too small
    2. View point wasn’t set
    3. Tap targets were too small

I would like to hear from you about your experience of the site, so please visit the site. Your comment or suggestion for the site, especially from cell phones, is appreciated. 🙂

Mobile Site Should Design Differently From Desktop Site

Initially I designed the mobile site as a smaller, narrower version of the desktop site, but it didn’t work well. The first problem I encountered was that tables with several columns did not fit well with narrow screens.

I had three tables in the Coffee Lounge website: coffee menu, events calendar and online order form. I ended up making two separate coffee menus and events calendars because the text inside cells was not readable: even one word did not fit inside a cell without corrupting.

I changed the order form from a table to several <div>s with the display setting, table-rows in CSS styling, so it looks like a table, but it rearranges its elements on the screen as the screen width reduces.

Resolving the Problems

The site speed increased by optimizing CSS files and reducing image file size. The site had four CSS files. The two CSS files were almost identical, so I eliminated one. I replaced a large image file with several much smaller image files which are used for image buttons. The image below is the test results from Web Page Analyzer.

Download Times

Image 1: Download Times

Source: Web Page Analyzer

I followed the guidance from Google Developers for improving Mobile UX: increasing font size and line-height, setting a view point for mobile devices and enlarging the target by using a larger font for the text links and adding image buttons.


Image 2: Mobile User Experience (Before)

Source: PageSpeed Insights


Image 3: Mobile User Experience (After)

Source: PageSpeed Insights

Results and Conclusion

The new version of the site looks much better and easier to control with smartphones. The old site was very difficult to view and to navigate from the phones with higher screen resolutions, since the site display was controlled by the number of pixels in the screen width but not the physical size of the device. Once the view point was set, the site displays as I intended for mobile devices, even if I use a smartphone.

As a conclusion, the development of responsive web design is more complicated and challenging, but it can provide reasonably good user experience for mobile phone users by optimizing CSS files, reducing image file size, using larger fonts and line-height, and providing larger tap targets.


Most Current Web Design and Development Trends

About Myself and This Blog

As some of you already know me, my name is Naomi Kobayashi, and I’m a second year Web Development program student at College of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland, Canada. While I’m taking this program, I have developed several websites, including prototypes, and I would like to make my websites adaptive, highly functional and attractive.

I’m currently taking CR2170, Trends in Web Development course, and this blog is a part of the course requirements. I’m going to discuss about web design and development trends in the last few years for the next four postings. Today I would like to write about the overview of the current web development and design movements.

Web Design Trend Overview

Simple, Effective and Visually Attractive

Web design is getting simpler, adaptive and more eye-catching in the past few years. If you search for “best website design”, you will see many websites with full screen background images and bare minimum messages: often they have only headers and several global links. Full screen background photograph or video are very popular among stylish companies and individuals. Minimalist landing design is simple yet effective way to communicate with the users. Full screen background photograph or video makes a website attractive and easily adapted with minimal design. Minimalist landing page with full screen image or video is also very adaptive and suited for smaller screens. Another technique to get the users’ attention is full screen typography by enlarging fonts using CSS3 properties. Full screen typography is also used with minimalist design. Designed typography with unique font is also gaining popularity.


Figure 1: Full Screen Video Background

Source: Y.Co Yachts (n.d.)

Adaptive Design for Mobile Phones and Tablets

Responsive layout has become popular in the recent years, since one website will serve for all devices. Fixed position header bars and infinite scrolling are also related to adaptive design: scrolling makes easier for Smartphone and tablet users to navigate. Fixed position header with horizontal navigation or other type of navigation system would reduce scrolling up and down on the same page. Card design is also hot in web design, since they fit nicely inside portable screens. Flat UI design, which is similar to Windows 8, is a very new trend of web design, and Google’s new material design guideline will be the new direction for this year. Card design, Flat design and material design are all suited for mobile and are simple and quick to use.


Figure 2: Pinterest (above left) and Discover feature on Spotify (above right)

Source: Cass, J. (2015, January 2)

Advanced Technologies Influence the Web Design Trends

HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript allow web designers and web developers to create animations and games without 3rd party plug-ins, websites with grid design and responsive layout and landing pages with a full screen photograph or video in the background. Increasing numbers of Smartphone and tablet users make websites more responsive and requiring less reading, clicking and typing. High speed Internet and mobile network let users download more applications, music and video clips and image files and let developers and designers create multimedia rich websites and mobile applications.


Website design uses more adaptive, simplistic and graphical approaches to satisfy all needs and demands of all devices and users. Advanced web technologies and superior network connection support the recent web design trends.



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