Designing Your Progressive Web App

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Designing Your Progressive Web App

Progressive Web Apps combine the feature rich capabilities of native apps with the reach of browser interfaces. This makes them accessible and valuable for any and every internet user.

In this blog, we’ll tell you more about Progressive Web Apps and give you a few tips to consider when it comes to planning your own.

Web versus native apps

Historically, if you wanted to create a personalised, feature-rich experience for your users, you’d need to create a native app. This means one version for IOS, another for Android. You’d need a separate web experience - that’s three sets of development, with niche code needed for each.

This isn’t only labour intensive, it’s also limiting for users.

These days, people might not want to download an app and register to access the features they need.

It’s important to note at this stage, that there will always be some web experiences that don’t present the same level of value and personalisation as a native app.

There is also the issue of connectivity. We know that development best practice requires you to design your online experience for every user. That means you need to take into account connection issues, load times and offline requirements, which many web experiences can’t cater for.

Progressive Web Apps solve all these issues and provide a seamless experience for the user, but a good app needs to be designed with every user in mind. Here are a few tips to consider when designing yours.

Designing a Progressive Web App

The very first consideration when designing any app is usefulness.

Users need to be able to find what they need, quickly and easily. So don’t bury the good stuff behind unnecessary barriers and pages. The best way to find out what your users need? Ask them!

Many companies make the mistake of assuming they know what users want, then spending time building experiences without any input from the people who are supposed to use them. This can lead to a lot of risk and waste - two words no business wants to hear when launching something new.

So, it’s important that you engage your users throughout the process of designing your PWA, from conception through to launch and beyond. This can be as simple as anecdotal or guerilla testing, or it can be a series of focused, curated user testing sessions. The main thing is that you’re talking to people and getting input on what they want and like, to remove any guesswork.

The data debacle

Getting users to give you their data willingly is the dream for most businesses, but don’t make the mistake of expecting this upon entry.

The whole idea of a PWA is providing value to the user without their needing to register or install an app. So it’s good practice to give away as much as possible without your users needing to jump through hoops and share their details.

The key to getting users to enter their email address or give you their details is to offer them something they really want.

It’s worth making data collection optional, in other words, giving users the option of sharing their details or not, but allowing them to unlock valuable content either way. This way you’re more likely to get data from willing participants, without annoying or losing those who don’t want to share anything.

Design for the lowest common denominator

Connectivity varies from one user and device to the next, but every user expects speed and performance on their app. Always, always design your PWA to cater for the worst case connectivity, not the best.

If you assume people will access your app on the train, in patchy areas of signal and on older handsets as well as more modern mobiles, you’ll tailor your experiences to a wider audience.

Think of tactics like lazy loading, offline functionality and the option to add your app to the user’s home screen for easy access.

Test your app across as many devices and handsets as possible, bearing in mind that each will have different native navigation buttons and touch sensitivities.

Finally, think about the user’s onward experience and provide options for them to share content with ease. When it comes to the UI of your app, think ‘simple’ and ‘useful’ and you can’t go wrong.

Getting started

If you need help defining, designing and developing your PWA, you’ve come to the right place! We can help.

The Digital Detox team is made up of experienced strategists, client partners, designers and developers with significant expertise in digital best practice and sustainability.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your goals and let’s outline ways to make sure you achieve them. We offer a range of service levels, from short timeboxed discovery sessions to long-term partnerships.