A Progressive Web App is a web app that makes use of modern web capabilities to provide an app-like (native app) experience to the users. The Progressive web application development offers user experiences that are far superior to the experiences offered by traditional web apps. These applications don’t require users to perform an app store hunt, downloading or even installing. Having only URL as the access point, users love progressive web apps.
By choosing to develop Progressive Web Apps, developers let go off the need for creating different versions of the same app for multiple platforms. This reduces the cost and development time considerably.
We at Promatics, have been in the mobile app development industry for years now. We acknowledge the proficiency that progressive web apps bring to the business and have developed subtle insights over time while working on them. Since we have established that Progressive web apps are both a user’s and developer’s favourite, here are Best Tips to Design Progressive Web Apps that we would like to share:
I. Focus on Icons
A progressive web app must be developed to feature icons that are designed on the guidelines of native apps. Aesthetically, the icon design should be kept minimalistic, so that it is easy to decipher.
II. Improve Load Time
A Progressive Web application should open up instantly like a native app and should not incur massive load time like a website. If slow internet networks are troublesome for your page load speed, apply the cache-first approach to the app development procedure instead of the network first approach. This way you will allow the loading up of the bare minimum element on the app. Even the progressive web application framework designed by your team should optimize the bulk of information that gets displayed on the app pages, pictures and login etc.
It is a good strategy to ensure that the page load time is under 2 secs and even if the time incurred is slightly more that, keep the user engaged through some fun element on the screen.
III. Implement PRPL Pattern for Enhanced Performance
The PRPL pattern structures and serves Progressive Web Apps. As per Google’s advice, it’s best to implement the PRPL pattern if you seek to enhance the performance of your progressive web application. Using the pattern increases cache efficiency and creates a good impression on the first time interaction. This includes Pushing critical resources, Rendering initial routes and Pre-caching remaining routes and even lazy-loading the remaining elements on the app.
IV. Go for Responsive Content
A Progressive Web Application must be as responsive as a Native App, if not more. As developers, you must ensure that all image tags on a page should include the dimensions of the image. This aids the browser in laying out the screen correctly, even before the image gets loaded. Developers can also use placeholders while the content loads on the app, this prepares the user for what is about to be displayed. Placeholders also help in minimising the ‘jumping images effect’ that results from inefficient resizing or incorrect size setting of images. It is also great if you can work out a way to acknowledge the user’s command in some way or the other. This can be done by simple steps like highlighting the actionable tabs or even through the vibration of the device.
V. Best to Use System Fonts
Don’t be beguiled into believing that only fonts add the necessary character to your Progressive Web Apps. Use fonts only as a channel to deliver important messages and nothing more. Using a Progressive Web Application is much more comfortable if the style matches to that of the Operating System it is functioning on. It is best to use the system’s preferred font, depending on the OS the user is using. Developers can do this by implementing different menus and buttons per platform, this minimizes visual distractions for a user.
VI. Be Careful About Advanced Touch Interactions
Advanced touch interactions like ‘swipe to dismiss’ or ‘pull to refresh’ can be hard to integrate into the app design for even the most seasoned of developers. Also, keep in mind that the limited screen space can result in unwanted user behaviours if the app design is crowded. However, once incorporated, the advanced touch interactions only steal the show if the designers ensure that they execute the assigned functions seamlessly and do not fail to perform. Key to design a flawless Progressive Web App is ensure that advanced touch interactions work well on real devices. If you face any problem in the execution of these advanced interactions, make sure that you go back to the drawing board and modify the app design in such a way to omit out the need for such interactions. Also, keep in mind that the limited screen space can result in unwanted user behaviours if the app design is crowded.
VII. Seamless Screen Transitions
Often network flaws slow down or even block screen transitions. When a user clicks on a link/button on a server-rendered web app, the screen transition is slow instant of lightning-fast and might create an impression of unresponsiveness on the user. Developers need to ensure that Progressive Web App they design exude the feel of a Native App that runs locally and features content which gets loaded dynamically. We recommend you use skeleton screens, to guide users about what to expect and where to focus. Once implemented with technique, skeleton screens appear identical to the app page and make it difficult for the user to notice any difference.
VIII. Use Service Worker for Caching
Service workers are scripts that your browser runs in the background when the page is not open. There are integral to your web app design if you intend to install vivid prompts, push notification and caching etc. Check if your browser supports service workers, if yes register a service worker file. With service workers, Progressive Web Apps can serve users with lightning-fast responses even on shabby internet connections.
IX. Allow Ease of Sharing
The URL of a Progressive Web Application is not easily accessible for a user, hence you must make provisions for easy sharing of what is presented on the screen. Integrate a ‘share’ button so that the URL can be easily copied to the clipboard and spread across. If you are also integrating social sharing buttons, ensure that you delay the loading of 3rd party Java script till the time primary content on the page has loaded.
X. Buttons and Non-content Need to be Not Selectable
An avid Chrome user considers a single tap on the text as selection. This leads to the creation of a bug which recognises taps on buttons and other non-content as selection. This hampers the seamless user experience that web app developers intend to create. To avert this from happening, mark all non-content elements with the CSS property:
XI. Must Retain Scroll Position on The Previous List Page
Imagine a situation where a user selects an item for a particular list and proceeds to view its details. Here, tapping back should bring back to the list page with the same scroll position they were at before they selected the item. It can be very irritating for a user to browse through a list if pressing back always takes them to the top of the list.
Performance can make or mar a Progressive Web App. After all the tips have been implemented to create a surreal Progressive Web App experience, you need to audit it using Google’s Lighthouse. It is an open-source performance management tool that can run as a Chrome extension or even as a Node module. The tool runs your application under varied conditions and measures responses and success, by the PWA guidelines. The score generated is out of 100. The tool can also score your app on web best practices.
Progressive Web apps are the perfect meeting point between the web and native experiences. They ensure intuitive web experience for mobile phone users. The bottom line is that Progressive Web App is a success only if it is fast in even the worst network conditions and on the oldest of devices. We hope you benefit from the Best Tips to Design Progressive Web Apps discussed above.
With the kind of benefits and functionalities that Progressive Web Apps offer to business, their demand is on the upsurge. A unique convenience of having a PWA developed by a mobile app development company is that it doesn’t require rewriting your entire application. You can easily get any app converted to a PWA by adding a few extra layers to it. If you are a business looking to jump onto the Progressive Web App bandwagon, feel free to reach out to us.