Designing PWA For Better UX – A Definite Guide

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Your intended customers are probably browsing your website through their mobile device. User Experience can affect how they respond to your brand, so you need to ensure that their browsing experience is seamless and effortless, right from when they enter your site until they leave.

There are many ways to do this, with Progressive Web Apps (PWA) being the most exciting one. Time to guide you through designing PWA.

Progressive Web App
Designing PWA for better UX – A Definite Guide

Defining PWAs and their perks

PWAs are web apps designed to provide mobile users with a browsing experience comparable to what they’d find in a native app. A website that uses a PWA shares many characteristics with most of the apps installed in your phone and, thus, offers several important benefits:

  • Speed and responsiveness. A PWA automatically adjusts to the screen size and resolution of any mobile device. But unlike conventional responsive websites, PWAs do not require the user to wait before they can see the site’s content. Like an app, a PWA loads instantly.
  • Homescreen visibility. Once a PWA meets specific standards, Google Chrome may issue a prompt telling you to add the web app to your device. The PWA will sit like an app on your homescreen and will be launched with a tap.
  • Offline support. PWAs will load their content at any internet speed, even if you are in an area with a shaky network connection. You won’t see Chrome’s pixelated dinosaur just because your connection is suddenly cut off.
  • User engagement. PWAs allow you to send notifications to users. These are similar to push notifications that the apps on your phone send you every now and then. Done right, these notifications can increase engagement and the time that users spend on the app.
  • No installation needed. Telling users to install an app just so they can improve their experience is disruptive and annoying. PWAs run directly in the browser, so users do not have to leave and visit the app store just to view your content.
PWA of AliExpress
PWA of AliExpress

Checking and testing PWAs

You want a PWA that provides a positive experience to your website users. This is hard to accomplish within the first iteration of your site – you’ll need to constantly check the web app to ensure that its elements run smoothly and as intended.

Confirm that the app is served over HTTPS

You can use Lighthouse to determine if your site is served over HTTPS and that it is designed for mobile-friendliness. A manual test may be necessary for more comprehensive outcomes.

Test offline loading

Like a native app, your web app must function even without an internet connection. This means that all or some of the pages of the site need to load offline.

Ensure “Add to Homescreen” is functional

Use Lighthouse to test the metadata for “Add to Homescreen,” which allows users to add your app’s icon to their device for easy access.

Smoothen page transitions

The transition from one page to another affects the experience of users. Transitioning to another page within the site must be smooth even with slow internet connection.

Assign a URL for every page

Make sure that each page in the site comes with a unique URL which visitors can use to link to your content or share on social media.

Ensure compatibility with browsers

Try to open the web app in different browsers to see how it performs in each one. Users tend to prefer different browsers, so it’s important that the site performs optimally wherever it’s viewed.

PWA of Twitter

Designing PWA for optimal UX

When it comes down to designing PWA, user experience should be at the core of your business plan. Here are tips on creating a web app that provides the best experience to its users:

Identify a problem and solve it

As you design PWA, imagine your average user and why they went to your site. What is their goal? Once you have answered this question, try to imagine what could stop them from achieving this goal. Is your interface too distracting? Does your copy need to be clearer? List down any problems you find and plan how to solve them.

Make it all about the user

Keep in mind that you are not building the app for yourself or to showcase your skills. You are building the app because you have recognized a need and you want to help users achieve their goal. Oftentimes, you’ll find that using fewer elements in your app will simplify the process and make it more accessible to more users.

Design an icon that blends in

You’d think that the best practice in icon design is to create one that stands out from the rest, but this is actually counterproductive. Many users tend to hesitate to tap icons that look too different. For this reason, make sure your icon is designed to fit in with all the other apps installed in the user’s phone. Make sure it is compatible with any platform and that it carries elements familiar to most common icons.

Reduce data round trips

Data travels from your site to the browser, over the internet, and then back again. This cyclical journey is necessary for you to send and receive data. All this happens within milliseconds, of course, but considering how the process is repeated over time, users will inadvertently have to spend time waiting for the site to load. A PWA needs to be fast, so you’ll have to take steps to reduce round trips as much as possible. You can do this by modifying the code in your site.

Designing PWA for Lancôme.
PWA of Lancôme

Allow the easy sharing of content

Even though you’ve assigned URLs to all of your pages, these links may not be easy for users to find and share. Remedy this problem by incorporating other ways for them to share content on social or directly with their friends. You could add widgets to your website which will enable users to share with a single button. At the same time, make sure that your content, be it videos or images, are shareable.

Design for offline users

Some of your users will inevitably lose their internet connection while they are inside your app. Make sure the site is operable despite the absence of the internet. PWAs have a way to go before they can be like the Facebook native app, which lets you access your feed offline, but the technology could be available in the very near future.

Offer a seamless experience

A seamless experience is a constant requirement by most users and it’s one thing they’d appreciate from your web design. Many users tend to think apps work “just because” and they’d most likely have this carefree attitude toward your web app as well. A PWA has the potential to offer a fast, reliable, and engaging experience to your website’s visitors, so make sure that all of these qualities are present and highlighted in your design.


User experience could be the single most important factor in your brand’s success, thanks to the capabilities offered by mobile technology and the internet. If your website provides a browsing experience that’s less than satisfactory, users can very easily leave and move on to your competitors. But as long as you pay attention to their needs, they will most likely engage your content and even buy your products. Progressive web applications have much potential for improvement but even in its current form, they are already powerful tools that can help you maximize UX for your intended customers.

What do you like most about designing PWA? Tell us in the comments.

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Aaron Chichioco

Aaron Chichioco is the managing editor of He loves to write about online marketing, eCommerce and of course, web design. He has a vast experience in overseeing the daily operations of several online businesses since 2011. You can follow Aaron on twitter at @Aaron_Chichioco.

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No responses yet to “Designing PWA For Better UX – A Definite Guide”

  1. Kate says

    Thank you for the article!

    In 2020, the power of Progressive Web App is getting even stronger. So, when building a PWA you should take into account a lot of things, namely:

    1. Focusing on PWA design for both desktop and mobile versions.
    2. Ensuring seamless page loading.
    3. Creating an eye-catching home screen logo.
    4. Retaining the exact scroll position of the list.

    We have gathered all the tips that will surely help build a great Progressive Web App in one article: Please check it when you have time.

    Thank you!

  2. CTOaaS says

    Aaron, I would only also add small size to the advantages.

  3. Brenda Gray says

    Great article! The definitive guide to designing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) for better user experience is a valuable resource for both experienced designers and newcomers to the field. The article effectively highlights the key principles and considerations for creating PWAs that provide seamless experiences across devices and platforms. Here is awesome article that helps understand more.

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