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16 Expert Tips For Developing An Effective Progressive Web App

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Progressive Web apps are designed to mimic the experience of using a native app within a Web browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Offering a user experience and functionality that a standard website can’t, PWAs are intended to operate across multiple platforms while still providing the feel of an app specifically created for whatever device the user is on. 

A well-designed PWA can give a company a way to engage users more effectively and efficiently, so it’s not surprising that more and more businesses are experimenting with the tech. For a PWA project to reach a successful launch, however, there are essential factors companies must consider both before and during production. Below, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share their expert tips for developing an effective progressive Web app. 

1. Determine The Future Of Your Existing Website

The future interoperability of your existing website is an important factor to consider, as well as whether you want to do a full rewrite or build on top of your existing website. There are a lot of pros and cons to both choices, but once you make a decision, it’s really hard to backtrack from it. – Rachana Kumar, Etsy Inc.

2. Think About Future Devices

Consider the devices and form factors you’ll need to support in the longer term. I’m not at all arguing for what might previously have been called “big design up front”; rather, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success and minimizing rework by thinking ahead about the devices your design may eventually need to accommodate. – Jake Carter, Credera

3. Consider Ongoing Maintenance Needs

Remember that the app will need to be maintained. Only embark on a new Web app project if you are committed to maintaining the project. Apps are no longer a “build once last forever” project; they need to be constantly maintained to keep them working. – Carlos Melendez, Wovenware


4. Budget For On-Demand Service Costs

Determine whether the Web app will be a public-facing app or an internal product; if it is indeed a public-facing app, identify your SEO strategy. And in either case, build out on-demand server costs—which will need to scale based on the data services required—to ensure your Web app is responsive and performing as intended for your target audience. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB

5. Create A Flowchart To Guide Design

Get a strong idea of the “flow” of the project and create a flowchart. These are so useful even today because they illustrate exactly what you want the app to do, how it will work, how consumers will use it and so on. The flowchart contains responses, choices, results and other pertinent information that aids in app design. – Christopher Davenport,

6. Keep Functional Limitations In Mind

You should only go into the development of your PWA after fully contemplating and formulating its business logic. Keep in mind that the functionality of your app will be limited to what is achievable in a standard Web browser and that you will not be able to package your PWA into an iOS app due to App Store rules. Furthermore, the app can’t have access to hardware such as near field communication, Bluetooth or a camera. – Oleg Fonarov, Program-Ace

7. Research The APIs Available From Browsers

The one issue to remember when considering a progressive Web app is the platform integration required to serve your customers. You might want to research the application programming interfaces available from a given browser before switching from native apps to progressives. Also, make sure the APIs are gated behind HTTPS to ensure security. – Susan Lang, XIL Health, LLC

8. Prioritize Supporting Your Customers And Business Model

Thinking about the customer experience and the user experience and researching what your target user wants and needs seem like obvious steps. But with budgetary constraints and a rush to have that first-to-market advantage, many companies easily dismiss CX and UX and instead rely on subject matter experts’ advice as sufficient to guide the user experience. Prioritization of features that support your business model is also critical. – Shawna Koch Mishael, SenecaGlobal

9. Keep It Simple

The most important thing is to keep it simple and focus on the user experience. A beautiful, simple UX is more important than jamming in as many features as possible. Combining a simple UX with a great-performing, accessible PWA can help businesses reduce the friction in customer journeys, easily keep content fresh and generate amazing conversion rates. – Sarika Khanna, Medallia

10. Focus On The UX

Progressive Web apps are meant to deliver seamless, native-app-like experiences, so how users interact with the app (the product experience) is a top-tier consideration. Apps must be both available and reliable and deliver high quality and performance. Building progressive Web apps without measuring the impact to users—especially as you deliver across multiple platforms—will lead to adoption challenges. – Milin Desai, Sentry

11. Account For Performance Variations Among Operating Systems

Businesses need to remember that the behavior of progressive Web apps varies substantially between iOS, Windows, macOS and Android, as well as among browsers. For example, push notification support is very uneven at this point. If your PWA is highly dependent on push notifications, alternate paths for feature functionality will need to be created, taking into account each user’s profile. – Matt Dickson, Stericycle Communication Solutions

12. Make A Mobile-Friendly Version

One thing to remember when creating a progressive Web app is that you should still make a mobile-friendly version of your program. Many first-time PWA creators create a desktop version of their app and mistakenly assume smartphone users will download their original program from the app store. PWAs tend to see a higher conversion rate, even on mobile, so device optimization is a must. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

13. Don’t Focus Solely On The Mobile Experience

It’s no secret that PWAs help companies engage with customers without making them install native apps or deal with updates. When thinking of a PWA, we often imagine a mobile browser user, and therefore the UX of such an app is focused on mobile. However, customers may use a PWA on their desktop computer or a laptop. I suggest keeping different form factors—not just mobile—in mind. – Nadya Knysh, a1qa

14. Remember To Support Password Managers

Make sure that you build your login pages to support the password managers built into most modern browsers. Standard form fields with proper metadata help browsers autofill data for users and keep the page as accessible as possible. Social sign-in is another option to reduce friction for login. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

15. Include Simple Installation Instructions

One tip to remember is the installation process. When it comes to PWAs, this process is a little more involved for the end user but is necessary if they want to have an icon for the app on their home screen. You should put simple, easy-to-follow instructions on the app download page. – Nik Froehlich, Saritasa

16. Don’t Abandon Your Mobile App

There is a real buzz about PWAs, as they provide an app-like experience without installation. But a PWA is not a replacement for a mobile app. Some businesses feel as though a PWA is sufficient, but it is not. You still need a mobile app to ensure you can engage every type of user. When building a PWA, remember that it should feature a fast load time and open instantly. If the load time is slow, your PWA project will be a failure. – Roman Taranov, Ruby Labs

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