Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Part 3: A UX Designer’s POV

Click Here To Start With Part 1: The Limitations No One is Telling You

In this 5 part series, you’ll hear from development and user experience experts as well as our President about the pitfalls and advantages of PWAs. And finally, when we recommend them and when we don’t. 

Do Progressive Web Apps match up to native apps when it comes to user experience?

Many of the technological barriers of Progressive Web Apps can have a significant impact on the user experience. 

Accella’s Art Director and User Experience Designer, Kevin Lynch, outlines the key differences and why they matter below.

PWAs Aren’t Found In The Apple or Google Play App Stores

You don’t download a PWA from the App or Google Play store. Instead, a user has to go to your PWA web link within Safari, manually press the ‘Share’ icon, and scroll and click “Add to Home Screen.”

Worst Case Scenario: If someone uses Chrome, there’s an added issue—the “Add to Home Screen” option isn’t available. 

Why it matters: This acquisition process is not what most users are used to, creating a confusing experience and a high drop-out rate. If they aren’t sure where to find or how to get your app, adoption will suffer.

If you’re developing an enterprise app, this isn’t necessarily an issue, but for any product that relies on consumer or business adoption – the inability to simply download and start using the app is a risk to your success. 

PWAs Offer a “Native-Like” Experience—And Users Expect The Real Thing

Without full native functionality, a progressive website is simply a mobile website. As Jacob Haskins discussed in the Developer’s POV, the app can’t use key phone features, such as security features and notifications. 

More subtle, but just as impactful, the UI elements standardized by native apps, including UI buttons, toggles, slides, date selections techniques and more, are not always available. 

Users learn to quickly navigate native apps partially due to their consistency across apps. The ability for a user to intuitively and quickly use an app for the first time, leaves a strong positive impression and any positive user experience increases the likelihood of user re-engagement. 

WHY IT MATTERS: Progressive web apps cannot match up with true native. Users have come to expect these elements and while they might not balk from using your offering at first, these small functionality gaps can negatively impact your users’ experiences.

User Experience Impact: The Bottom Line

A bad user experience over time erodes repeat use—which we’re sure isn’t your goal when building an app. Users will certainly compare your Progressive Web App to their native app experiences since they don’t know there’s a difference. 

The subtle differences may not be showstoppers, but they certainly contribute to a less delighted end-user as well as completely blocking some native features and in-app functionality. 

Next Up: Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Part 4: An Executive’s POV

What do you think about PWAs? Let us know in a comment below.

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch

Kevin is an experienced designer currently focused on UI Design for Mobile and Web as well as html/css coding. Over the years he has had the opportunity to delve into a variety of online experiences including Email Marketing, Banner Ads, Search Engine Optimization, E-commerce and several types of CMS solutions.

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