Sky V. King (FIU Online)

Nuts and bolts: Discovery in Designing for Desktop & Mobile

Blog Post created by Sky V. King (FIU Online) on Jul 20, 2017

Recently, I was given a new toy to play with: Canvas LMS. To be honest, it's not Christmas unless something tech is involved. My institution is currently piloting Canvas (currently using Bb) and I'm in the first batch of classes to go live. After reviewing the online instructor on-demand course and video tours, I dug into the platform to play around. Yea! Fun times...

 

(Canvas) Getting to Know You

My initial goal was to set up the course as an instructor with basic technology skills. It was bare bones but had the structure and support materials it needed to be functional. Another goal of the minimal design was to easily break apart materials from a condensed Summer course and expand it into a full-term Fall/Spring build.

 

[Design 1] Module Structure Outline

  • Module/Chapter Overview [Page]
    • Introduction
    • Learning Objectives
    • Tasks/To-Do List
  • PowerPoint slides in PDF (3 per page with notes) [File]
  • Optional Resources [URL Links]
  • Discussion/Assignment/Quiz [Add Item to Module]

 

Jeff Ferner asked Who stares at a phone all day... Who me? I stare at a desktop most of the day. Except when I am not at work and am then tethered to my iPhone SE (I have small hands). On an auditing whim, I decided to check out my newly designed course via the Canvas iOS mobile app. I soon thereafter redesigned the "basic" course.

 

I used both my iPhone SE and decently sized iPad to test out Design 1 of my course. One of the biggest issues that I had is when you add URL links to a Module, if you look at it on mobile- it looks good because of the inline reader (whether I use "Open in New Tab" or not).  However, in desktop with our previous best practice of opening links in new windows- at the very top of the screen it has a basic link telling the user to open in a new window. Meh.

 

Example of Module URL Open in New Tab
If I add a URL to a Module and do not put "open in a new tab" users may receive an error about secure/insecure data and web browsers. While I (and most tech savvy folks) know what that's about, for those that are not- it may create apprehension towards clicking on these links. Not a good user experience.

 

While in general one might say designing for mobile is the way to go- we have a lot of students who use their laptops for viewing course materials (which could be related to historical sub-par mobile access/user experience). Therefore, the current focus is to try and design for both at the same time.

 

[Design 2] Module Structure Outline

  • Module/Chapter Overview [Page]
    • Introduction
    • Learning Objectives
    • Tasks/To-Do List
      • Optional Resources [URL Links]
  • PowerPoint slides in PDF (3 per page with notes) [File]
  • Discussion/Assignment/Quiz [Add Item to Module]

 

Did a real quick redesign so that the URL links for the module were included within the "Module Overview" page. For desktop and mobile, they both open in a new tab. No error messages. While this is a simple way to address this concern, my next step is to do some mobile testing using requirements and prerequisites. What have been your experiences and tricks/fixes for designing for mobile/desktop at the same time?

Outcomes