Dissertation: Evaluation of different approaches to Optimize Responsive Web Design Performance

In the past, the web was limited to fixed size web pages which were only optimized for a single resolution. This eventually became a problem with the ever-increasing popularity of small hand-held devices, such as tablets and smartphones, which are expected to take over the computer market. These old, fixed size web pages were hugely problematic when browsing on smaller resolutions and remained so until a far better solution was developed – Responsive Web Design. In a very short time, responsive web design has become a common method used to create fluid and responsive websites which can easily adapt their layout and content according to the resolution of the device it is being accessed from. However, despite all the benefits associated with responsive web design, they have been criticised because of poor performance and slower loading times. The aim of this dissertation is to analyse and evaluate various tools and techniques used to optimise the performance and loading times of a responsive website. To do this, a prototype was created and used as a basis for testing. Tests were performed by measuring the effect on load time, page size and the total number of request for each different type of optimization carried out. This dissertation is also aimed at identifying the most common features and requirements that users look for in responsive websites across various devices. The results show that by combining various optimization techniques, both the performance and loading times of a responsive website can be drastically improved.  This is essential since this is the factor that users identify most readily in any website before deciding to navigate away to a competitor’s website.