Progressive Web App Design: 7 Tips for Great PWA UX and UI

Progressive Web Applications have stopped being just a buzzword. This technology outcompeted native apps and proved its effectiveness for the business. Thus, Progressive Web App design becomes a hot topic for companies wanting to stand out from the competitors with a great and powerful PWA solution.

When it comes to PWA web design, the process is kin to designing native apps. Still, it has differences and peculiarities.

In this article, we gathered the most efficient PWA design guidelines that will help create the best user experience for your product.

What is a PWA and why should you care?

A PWA stands for a Progressive Web App. As the name suggests, PWAs are based on standard web technologies. At the same time, the addition of the newest JavaScript features makes them a great substitute for native apps.

In other words, Progressive Web Applications work both like ordinary websites and mobile apps and offer such functionality like offline mode, push notifications, and adding to the home screen that previously could be found in native applications only. So basically, we can say that a PWA is a low-cost cross-platform alternative to a native app.

The core benefits of Progressive Web Applications are as follows:

  • Higher conversion rate;
  • Increased security;
  • Improved engagement;
  • Cost-effectiveness;
  • Improved search ranking;
  • Smooth performance on unstable networks.

Speaking about particular examples, e-commerce businesses that have already invested in PWA development came up trumps. The technology implementation brought marketplaces fantastic results. For example, Jumia got a 33% increase in conversion rate after turning its website into a fast and engaging PWA.

Do you want to see more great progressive web apps examples?
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These significant benefits make Progressive Web Applications more than a hot web app design trend. They became a powerful tool for offering mobile users a great native app’s experience.

Further reading: 16 Leading UX/UI Design Trends to Dominate in 2021

Tip 1. Focus on Progressive Web App design for both desktop and mobile

Since a Progressive Web Application is cross-platform, it should have great UI and UX for both mobile devices and desktop. The version for smartphone users should remain your high priority, though.

Let’s compare two PWA design examples of Twitter Lite for desktop and mobile.

Desktop PWA

As for the PWA design for the desktop, you may extend the grid, add some spacers (it is optional) and graphical elements such as illustrations or photos.

Progressive web app example of Twitter Lite for desktop is extended and has diverse features:

PWA design by Twitter Lite for desktop | Codica

Mobile PWA

When it comes to a mobile version, first of all, define the most necessary and popular content. Remember that the visitors to your progressive mobile website usually use several key features. For example, they may want to pay a bill and get a receipt, or search for a hotel room and book the most suitable option.

Bearing this fact in mind, add the most required functionality to the navigation bar. This way users will always have the commonly used functions at their fingertips.

Remove all sections or details that end users can easily do without.

Below you can see the Progressive Web design of Twitter Lite for mobile:

PWA design example by Twitter Lite for mobile | Codica

Footer has the same information on every page. It is a typical place for copyright notice, terms and conditions of use, links to social media accounts, and newsletter signup.

Sometimes, this page element takes up too much space. While it is not an issue for large desktop screens, mobile device screens don’t have that much space.

Given that, it is not surprising that there is no footer in native apps. It means that progressive web applications should follow their lead.

It will be a good idea to define the most important navigation items and create a navigation bar.

Below you can see how this tactic was successfully adopted by AliExpress. The buttons have the right size with a proper range of the thumb zone. As a result, users can get immediately to the most important pages or actions:

PWA design example by AliExpress | Codica

If you have some additional information that could not be fit into the navigation bar, you can move it to the menu. The example below by the Weather Channel illustrates how to do this the right way:

Progressive mobile website built by the Weather Channel | Codica

Tip 3. Retain the exact scroll position of the list

Suppose a user looks through a list of articles or products. They click on a particular item to get more information. After specifying the item details, the user wants to return to the list.

Your main task is to get them back to the exact scroll position they were at. Otherwise, users will be annoyed when they will be redirected to the top of the list. Therefore, the “Back” functionality becomes an important element of PWA web design.

Tip 4. Show interaction

When users tap a button, link or menu section, they must see that the tap was recognized. For this purpose, you may highlight the selected area with a different color.

Wego is a good example of a PWA that shows interaction in the right way:

PWA UI design by Wego | Codica

At the same time, when you implement the touch feedback as a part of progressive web app UX design, check that it does not trigger by mistake when users are only touching an element to scroll the page.

Tip 5. Ensure smooth page loading

Remember the rule of thumb: all image tags on your webpage should have the dimension of the image. In this case, a browser will be able to layout the screen properly even if the picture has not loaded yet.

Otherwise, the content will be jumping when the visuals are downloaded. Such jumps will negatively influence user experience.

To avoid this mishap, you can show a placeholder where the image should be displayed. It can be a grey square or blurred thumbnail.

Let’s see how Jumia solved the issue with loading images:

Progressive Web App design by Jumia  | Codica

We recommend that you take a look at Mobbin - Latest Mobile Design Patterns. This website contains screenshots of popular mobile applications. You can take notice of the solutions used in the process of native app development.

You may also like: 5 Key Principles for a User-friendly Website

Tip 6. Add custom splash screens

A splash screen (also called boot screen or launch screen) is displayed for 2-3 seconds before an application loads. It makes your PWA website even more similar to a native app.

Businesses often display their logo, the company’s name or the motto on a splash screen to increase brand visibility.

Besides, this approach makes users’ interaction with Progressive Web Apps even more engaging.

The tips below will help you strengthen your brand with a remarkable splash screen design:

  • Customize image size based on the screen size

The right image size is key to creating the best launch screen. Make sure that your chosen visuals are customizable to fit all mobile devices, be it an Android gadget or an iPhone.

  • Keep users informed

If your PWA takes some time to load, keep users updated about the progress. Let them know that there are no errors. Thus, consumers will wait more patiently until they can interact with your application.

  • Think of a simple but not boring design

You should create a launch screen with the idea of catching users’ attention in mind. Believe us, you can do this even with the simplest design. You just need to choose the right color gradient and add some creative elements to the background.

The splash screen of PWA by Codica looks the following way:

Progressive web design by Codica | Codica

Users will add your progressive web application to Home Screen where it will stick around with other apps. Therefore, your task is to make sure that it will stand out from the crowd. How can you do this? The answer is to create a unique and catching icon.

The following example will show why it is so important. Look at three PWAs from left to right. These are Washington Post, Codica, The New Yorker. You will definitely agree that Codica and The New Yorker icons catch your eye.

At the same time, the Washington Post icon which is just a black square looks dull and boring:

PWA icons design | Codica


We believe that with our best progressive web app design practices you will take your PWA to a new higher level. When everything is done right, you will provide your customers with exceptional and smooth user experience. In their turn, satisfied users will reward you with increased conversions and engagement.

If you already have an idea of creating a PWA, contact us. Our team has vast experience in PWA development and will eagerly help you grow your business with this innovative technology.

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