In this day and age, as more and more apps are being created on a daily basis, it takes a lot more than just a competently made product to get the attention of your users. Mobile platforms are seemingly constantly on the rise, so the need for a dynamic design, with a UI that’s adjusted perfectly to the platform you’re using, becoming not so much a luxury or USP, but a downright necessity. It looks like an incredible user experience – or UX – is the name of the game here, and one of the best ways to achieve that is through the use of Progressive Web Apps (PWA).
But there is no one uniform way of implementing PWA design into your applications, and some are much more effective and fair than others. Which is why we’ve compiled a handy guide on the best practices for PWA design, so that your next app may deliver the best possible experience to both users and developers.
What is PWA?
Before we move on to the meat of the topic, here’s a short refresher on what Progressive Web Apps even are. As the name implies, they’re applications that are designed in a way that’s supposed to provide us with the best web and native environments. This is encompassed by the “progressive” part of their name – they’re meant to adjust to different formats on their own, rather than making developers do it manually. In essence, then, PWAs allow you to tap into the true potential of your apps by making them easy to use on all ends.
While the idea behind PWAs is relatively simple, making sure that everything works as it should requires a specific approach. Here are some of the best practices you can follow in order to ensure that the goal of your PWA is fulfilled.
Make them accessible
The main idea behind every PWA is to make them adjustable to various users, so the core principle behind the development of such an appa should be to make sure it is designed with all your potential users in mind. The app should be dynamic, fitting to any platform it may be accessed from effortlessly, in a way that makes it seem that any platform used is the native platform.
But accessibility is about more than just the layout and the performance. The key here is the experience. A well-designed PWA has features that enhance the experience you are aiming to provide, which is achieved through clear, easy-to-navigate menus, as well as other measures that help users do what they came to do in a shorter amount of time.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – a set of practices put together by experts in the field – have defined accessibility on the basis of four principles, collectively referred to with the acronym POUR. It’s important to consider all of them if your goal is to make your app as accessible as possible.
- Perceivable – accessible apps are those that have content that can be perceived by the users. Most users will be able to perceive your content based on sight, but consider those visually impaired and how you can cater to them by engaging other senses.
- Operable – your users need to be able to navigate your content. Usually, this is done via a mouse, keyboard or a touch screen, but consider all the variants in which a user may be unable to utilize those tools.
- Understandable – just perceiving your content is not enough to make it worthwhile to your users. Make sure that it is presented in a way that is clear and consistent, as content that is confusing will only serve to alienate your audience.
- Robust – this is pretty much the essence of Progressive Web Apps, as it deals with the amount of browsers and devices that your content can be displayed on. Consider whether your app will work with assistive technology and think about how you can reach a broad user base.
Keep things simple
This ties in to the previous point, but it’s important nonetheless. While it may be tempting to stuff your app to the brim with some features that seem cool, it’s often a much wiser choice to back down on that and keep things to a minimum. Sometimes, less is actually more, and this goes double for when you want to make sure your app is truly progressive.
That’s why instead of focusing on what features you can implement, it’s a good idea to focus on the content you put into it. Define your goal right from the beginning – know what you’re about and make sure every element of the app reinforces it in a meaningful way. Remove distracting elements that will take away from the experience and just make every piece of the puzzle meaningful.
Consistency is key
One way to ensure that every element is valid, meaningful, and appropriate to your app and the expectations your users will have of it is making sure that your app is consistent throughout. This pertains to both the textual content as well as the general aesthetics. Make sure all of your fonts, images, and other audiovisual media complement each other well, as this is one of those key elements that will make the experience of your app’s users all the better.
How you handle push notifications is quite a thin line to straddle in terms of app design. They’re a good way to ensure that your users are more engaged with the app, with updates being fed directly to them as soon as they appear, but if forced on them, they can become quite annoying, actively discouraging the user from using them. Make push notifications meaningful – and absolutely optional – if you want your users to get the most out of them, which in turn will make them more actively engaged with your app. For example, if you’re running a store, offer them a push notification for when a product from their wishlist is on sale.
One of the best, most organic ways to entice users to use your up is to simply ensure that everything is as smooth as possible. This doesn’t just pertain to performance, however. By “smoothness” we generally mean the notion that the fewer steps it takes to perform a process within an app, the better. This is most prominent in shopping apps, wherein a user will frequently abandon a cart if the process of checking out is too cumbersome. Apps that are easy to navigate and don’t open up a lot of opportunities for problems are generally considered the most user-friendly ones.
PWAs are broadly considered to be the future, and it’s hard not to see why. With our guidelines, you should now know how to best design your apps to ensure that they are truly progressive. It’s not difficult to make sure that your app’s UX is the best that it can be – and sticking to these practices can make a notable difference in your app’s revenue.
UI/UX Consultant. Product Designer, Web Designer, Mobile App Designer, Freelancer. For enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org