The Mobile Web Experience

User Experience is not User Interface design. It encompasses the entire experience somebody has with your service and most of you are not considering the basics when you design your sites.Whilst on a trip to France last week I had an infuriating time trying to just read the news. Every day was like this:

Over 30 seconds for the first page hit, on a HSPA+ connection. That’s not a terrible connection, but it is also still quite common the world over. This was caused primarily from Google Adblocks and the heavy requests that come with it, but that’s not all that would have caused this problem – any javascript files would cause a delay along with anything else being served up by a third party and really what do I need to read this article? I just need some text that would unlikely be bigger than a few bytes.

The <head> on theverge.com is 300 lines, most of which is javascript on-page. All of that has to be run and checked before the <body> can load, but it gets worse. Straight after the <body> is Google Tag manager code, then a series of these:

<div class="m-ad m-ad__prelude">
 <div id='div-gpt-ad-prelude' class="dfp_ad" data-cb-ad-id="Prelude" data-cb-dfp-id="unit=prelude">
 <script type='text/javascript'>
 if (SBN.Ads._deferredAdsEnabled) {
 SBN.Ads.queueAd("prelude");
 } else {
 SBN.Ads.showAd("prelude");
 }
 </script></div></div>

Every one one of these scripts and requests for adblocks will take a significant hit to me seeing that content and when you’re on a slow connection that is just made even worse.

There is a serious oversight when it comes to mobile design, optimisation and considering whether your site is accessible or not. The majority of companies have mobile test plans, many will do tests using real devices. Too often it’s done over WiFi, and they’re only looking at how a page renders on-screen and not how long it takes to render.

This happened to me every day. OK, for the majority of this I was in Val D’isere, or Tignes, a mountain range, weather was not great, and it’s an area where you perhaps wouldn’t expect to get 4G reception, but! Looking around me every day, I saw others happily using their phones to check apps and mobile data.

And on the note of Apps. In the same trip I discovered a few surprising, and quite ridiculous issues with native apps on my Google Nexus 5x. eBay, as it turns out, is a glorified web wrapper app. I had items on sale whilst away which were getting a lot of attention and had a lot of questions. Trying to reply was infuriating, time after time I ended up seeing this:

Web page not available error message from the ebay Android App
Web page not available error message from the ebay Android App

I had an even worse experience with 1SE (1 Second Everyday) which I’ve been enjoying for the past year. In this instance, 1SE doesn’t even load the first screen without the use of data, the entire app interface is reliant on a data connection to bring in a sync’d dashboard from your account.

This has to change

I cannot believe, even now, there is such an ignorance in product and service design for the web, that is failing to realise that people need to access content from anywhere, at any time, with any manner of devices, but far more critically, with really poor signal. This problem will never go away, we are just creating a bigger class gap between those who live in cities with high-speed networks surrounding them, and those with ‘budget’ phones, or live in poor signal areas – in the UK, that includes some of those wonderful areas that you’ll most likely spend your holiday in, like the entirety of the west country.

If you’ve had any similar experiences, I would really like to hear from you. You can contact me on twitter @theavangelist.


Also published on Medium.

Published by

Andy Parker

User Experience Designer, headbanger, biker, skater, gamer from Brighton UK.