Designing A Progressive Web App (PWA). An Interview with Clive Ayonye

Clive, Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your skill set?

My name is Clive Ayonye and I’m a Product and UX Designer, currently working at Konga. I work with quite a number of tools on a daily basis, some of which are: Sketch, Invision, Framer, HTML, CSS, JavaScript to name a few.
What is your understanding of Progressive Web App and What the advantages it presents?
Progressive Web Apps (PWA for short) are mobile sites that take advantage of some new web technologies to deliver fast and engaging mobile experiences.
PWAs are great because they allow web developers build mobile websites that are very light, load super fast, are installable and can receive push notifications; ultimately giving you almost the same performance as purely native apps. Best part is you get to build with familiar web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Being a UX designer on KongaEZ, Which is the first known PWA app built in Africa. What is the experience like from a you UX point of view?

Building KongaEZ has been a very interesting experience especially because we are building it for the Nigerian market. With KongaEZ, we hope to enable both Nigerians who have never shopped online before as well as those who do frequently, easily browse and purchase their favorite products whether they are online or offline.

The key metrics for us were:

  • Speed: It has to be super fast even on the slowest networks
  • Light: Data is quite expensive in Nigeria so the app has to be very light with no unnecessary images and assets.
  • Easy to use: We are expecting first time online shoppers to use the app so it has to be very easy to use.
  • Offline capability: Data is also unreliable in Nigeria so the app has to allow user place orders even while they’re offline.

How should one decide to go PWA or Native?

I think it depends on various factors. One could be the available skillset; If you have the skill to build a native app and you think it’s suitable for the kind of problem you are trying to solve they go for it. In our case though, we were faced with a problem of supporting multiple versions of our native app since not all users were updating to the latest version of the app. This was also preventing us from rolling out new features to all our mobile app users. So we decided to explore a PWA.

What design style or methods used that are different from web App or native Apps?

There’s really no ‘best’ method to adopt for designing web apps or native apps as long as you follow UX best practices. You can decide to adopt a flat, material or skeuomorphic design approach to solving a specific problem, it really doesn’t matter much. However there are huge benefits from a UX point of view, that can be derived from using the native design patterns of the platform you are designing for.

What are the pitfalls one should avoid when designing a PWA App?

The major one is building your app in such a way that lower end browsers can not access it. Don’t break the web! That’s why it’s called PROGRESSIVE Web Apps. The key word there is ‘Progressive’ meaning your app should work on lower end browers and devices and then progressively enhance the experience (by taking advantage of newer web technologies) on higher end devices with modern browsers.

What is the future of PWAs is and do you think this will impact sales on the APP store in the near future?

I really don’t think PWAs will impact native app sales because I oubt people will ignore or replace native apps. However, I think PWAs will make the web faster and way better as more and more browsers support the newer web technologies that power PWAs.

For More details on KongaEZ, PWA or User Experience in general

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