What is Progressive Web Application (PWA) and Why It Matters
Progressive web application technology is the next logical step in web development. Progressive web apps, or shortly PWAs, are built and designed with supreme user experience in mind. Such web applications are secure, fast and engaging to the user. They can be installed to their home screen on a desktop and function like a native app on a mobile screen. PWA technology has broad opportunities for improvement. Do you wonder how PWA design differs from traditional website design? Well, you’re about to find out now.
PWA Features and Design Peculiarities
Nowadays, Internet browsers and web applications are getting more advanced continuously. To keep up with the technology advancement, PWAs offer a wider functionality compared to a regular website. A progressive web application has features analogous to a native app. These features include push messages, touch screen elements, and device’s hardware usage.
Progressive web applications let you reach out to the mobile users who don’t like to install new apps to their devices. Big news: most US smartphone users download no apps at all per month. PWA lets you get them to see you.
Currently, PWA technology is supported by Windows and iOS as well. Yet, the features of PWA slightly differ on every platform. There are things that PWAs can do on iOS and not on Android. For instance, a user is able to change the icon’s name before installing the web app to their iOS device. Android users can’t do that, but they can customize the screen orientations. There are more discrepancies between the platforms, but you got the idea already.
So what is PWA design all about? It is mainly about making it look as native to the user as possible. To design a good PWA product, one needs to create an intuitive web experience that pleases the user with its smooth performance on every screen.
Currently, the basic rules of PWA design are as follows:
- PWA design follows the most essential design requirements of native app development and bends them when needed. For example, it’s better to stick to standard OS fonts when designing your PWA. This way, you will improve the user experience greatly. With PWA, you can implement different menus and buttons to fit the given platform, or design original buttons that fit your brand. The decision is up to you here as long as you put user experience first.
- Don’t abuse your power. PWA gives you countless opportunities for the implementation of popups, reminders and push notifications. Let’s not forget what users do to apps with too many alerts: they go to their settings and hush them. If you value your relationships with your customers, implement a reasonable amount of alerts and notifications. Don’t follow the needy relationship pattern.
- Make transition between screens smooth and quick. A PWA user needs to feel like the app is stored on their phone completely. Don’t test the patience of your audience by letting them experience any delays in the operation of your app. In 2019, delays are seen as unapologetic unresponsiveness.
- Don’t use PWA to fix what’s already broken. If the code and design of a website are outdated, bulky and problematic, transitioning to PWA won’t make things look better. On the contrary, things can get even worse. For this reason, one needs to consider the initial assets before transitioning to a progressive web application. The barrier of entry for a regular website is low compared to a progressive web app, so there is a fair chance you’ll need to start working from scratch. Twitter moves to PWA by redesigning the app completely to fit some platforms.
- Doesn’t it annoy you that in some web apps it’s hard to get to the page URL? To avoid such a situation, incorporate a share button into your PWA design. Let your users copy the URL to the clipboard and share it to top messengers and social media effortlessly.
- Incorporate advanced touch interactions. If you can’t, forget about them altogether. Cool touch interactions will astonish your users only if they work as intended every time on all screens. In other cases, they will annoy your audience greatly and make them question the level of your expertise. It might look like “pull to refresh” and “swipe to dismiss” features are quite simple, but they are rather tricky to implement. In case you can’t master them, it’s better to go for a bottom navigation bar.
- Make the app remember the scroll position from a previous screen. When an app user reviews an item from the list and would like to go back, they should not be redirected to the top of the page. Take the experience of the users to the next level by taking them to exactly the same scroll position that they left. It will make browsing through products and services much easier and more efficient.
Designing a PWA is a lot like designing a regular website. Yet, it’s clearly not the same and requires additional research, consideration, and testing. When built and designed well, progressive web applications can deliver the ultimate user experience. In the competition for the attention of the audience, a smooth intuitive interface combined with a smart brand strategy goes a long way.
Maria Redka is a Technology Writer at MLSDev. It is web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. Our focus area includes a full range of services in mobile and web app development as well as design, consulting and testing.