Installing apps on a mobile device can be tiresome when the user is concerned about running out of memory or the vast existing app library. This holds true for many users who just want to check out a trending app. Many apps that get installed are often forgotten by users and are eventually uninstalled. Even if the app has the capacity to bring back inactive users, they simply don’t get the chance to get the message through.
Thankfully, technological advancements led to the invention of Progressive Web Apps. Mostly referred to as PWAs, they are technically not mobile apps but websites that look and function like mobile apps.
Built for Users
PWAs are built with users in mind, and primarily offer the convenience to users to not have to install and manage them. The users won’t have to launch the app store, search and find the app, download and install it and then get rid of it later when they have to. They just need to launch their web browser and enter the URL; just like how it’s when opening websites.
Key traits of PWAs include:
- Excellent responsiveness
- Fast loading speed (even without an internet connection)
- Great user experience
- No App Gap problems
Twitter, Instagram and Forbes are a few examples of websites that successfully launched impressive PWAs. These PWAs helped these businesses attract and impress more visitors with improved usability and experience. For a PWA, providing the best possible user experience is the key. Though the users can’t uninstall PWAs, they can still close the browser tab if they have a not-so-splendid experience with the apps.
That said, here are a few tips to ensure that your PWA provides an incredible user experience.
Never neglect performance and loading time optimizations
A PWA is basically a website but shouldn’t feel like one i.e. the users shouldn’t have to wait with an open browser for the PWA to load. As a matter of fact, a PWA should load reasonably faster even without an internet connection. This means you should consider PWA performance and loading time optimizations a priority.
There are many ways to optimize a PWA including but not limited to the following the PRPL architecture recommended by Google, service worker configurations (if you want the PWA to work offline), server-side rendering etc.
Development approach should reflect that of native apps
Remember that PWAs are supposed to look and feel like mobile app; specifically native apps. So to ensure a UX that closely resembles that of a native app, it should be designed like one i.e. there should be a sense of familiarity.
People are used to the layout, functionality and navigation of native apps. If the PWA version of an app simply feels like a website more than an app, that isn’t actually a PWA. Instagram is a great example as its PWA functions more like the app version itself.
For an optimal app-like user experience, make sure that the PWA is devoid of any scrolling issues, responsiveness issues, network transition issues, unfamiliar gestures etc. Basically, the PWA should be responsive to how the users interact. And the users would interact like they would with a native mobile app which means they don’t like waiting for new page content to appear on a new screen.
If you just can’t avoid wait times, try using skeleton screens – empty screens that immediately appear while the content loads in the background. If that doesn’t happen, the PWA won’t meet the expectations of users and will be branded as just another website.
Don’t adopt web design standards
For a website, you can take various types of content and present them in an engaging way for visitors. PWAs are fundamentally different which means sticking to web design standards will do more harm than good. A minimalist approach is more appropriate as you need to provide only the information that matters. Extra content should be removed as much as possible. Unlike a website, a PWA should not have a lot of buttons and links. Instead the user should be able to tap and swipe their way to find the information they seek.
Wise use of system fonts
A PWA should be designed in such a way that it matches the user’s operating system. The key to achieving this is to implement system fonts for individual operating systems; be it iOS, Android, Windows etc. Creative developers still use custom fonts however but mostly for headers and logos.
Avoid content-crowding and optimize interactions
Mobile devices have space limitations which is why designers and developers have to be careful to avoid content-crowding. You don’t want the users to accidentally open an item while scrolling down. This applies to PWAs as well. The users shouldn’t be redirected to undesired results while navigating. To avoid such scenarios and a confusing user experience, it’s best to mark non-content elements by using CSS. Additionally, touch interactions on PWAs should be thoroughly tested to ensure that there won’t be errors on real devices.
To offer the best user experience possible, the designers and developers should have ample expertise. A great design/development strategy goes a long way when it comes to PWAs.
Though Progressive Web Apps didn’t gain a lot of momentum in the beginning, it’s now recommended even by Google and has certain SEO benefits as well. From a user and business perspective, PWAs could be the answer to appeal to users who demand a mobile-like experience on the web.
Investing in a Progressive Web App will most certainly aid your business in its growth. But that investment counts on the expertise of the design and development team. If you are considering investing in a PWA, make sure the development team has a successful track record when it comes to PWAs.
Interested in developing a PWA? Talk to the specialists at AOT today.