Mo­bile Web Apps Open a New Win­dow for Star­tups

Pro­gres­sive web apps have func­tions be­yond be­ing just mo­bile ver­sions of their desk­top sites

The Economic Times - - Disruption: - Shadma.Shaikh @times­group.com

Ben­galuru: When Flip­kart re­launched its mo­bile site last year, it was seek­ing a mid­dle ground that the com­pany wanted to achieve in terms of user in­ter­face de­sign — a mo­bile site that looks like an app, a mo­bile web app. While na­tive apps — which need to be in­stalled on a user’s phone — pro­vide the ad­van­tage of user-spe­cific cus­tomi­sa­tion, hav­ing users in­stall the app is sub­ject to de­vice lim­i­ta­tions. With user traf­fic in­creas­ingly shift­ing to mo­bile, star­tups with a web pres­ence seem to have re­alised the need for a mo­bile-based plat­form that caters to user’s needs.

Web-based star­tups are launch­ing new ver­sions of mo­bile sites or pro­gres­sive web apps that func­tion be­yond be­ing mo­bile ver­sions of their desk­top sites.

“The pri­mary ben­e­fit is that these do not need much space on the phone, be­cause there is noth­ing to down­load. Se­condly, you don’t need pow­er­ful specifications to run all the lat­est apps, so it’s af­ford­able,” said Amar Na­garam, di­rec­tor, mo­bile en­gi­neer­ing, Flip­kart. “This app-like mo­bile site ex­pe­ri­ence is help­ing us get cus­tomers who can't in­stall the app and thus fur­ther strength­en­ing our dom­i­nance in mo­bile com­merce.”

Flip­kart has seen con­ver­sion rates of over 63%, which is on par with its na­tive apps and a three­fold in­crease in the time spent on the its web app as com­pared to its pre­vi­ous mo­bile site. Flip­kart Lite repli­cates the app ver­sion — it’s op­ti­mised for slower net­works, loads faster and is easy to nav­i­gate. Mo­bile sites for Face­book and Flip­kart also let users add these to their home screens, al­low­ing it be launched like an app.

“User-friendly in­ter­face is a big dif­fer­en­tia­tor,” said San­jay Ne­tra­bile, CTO at Pep­per­fry, the on­line fur­ni­ture por­tal that launched its mo­bile site in 2014. Pep­per­fry’s mo­bile site is fo­cused to pro­vide users an “app-like” ex­pe­ri­ence and has de­sign fea­tures, such as, thumb spac­ing and screen fit­ting lay­out, he said.

The grow­ing trend of pro­gres­sive web apps in­di­cates that star­tups’ fo­cus on mak­ing the mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence bet­ter for users has put them back at the fore­front of busi­ness de­ci­sions. From push­ing mo­bile users to their apps through big ban­ners and ad­di­tional steps to con­tinue to the mo­bile site, star­tups seem to have come a long way by bring­ing in “app-like” cus­tomi­sa­tion and en­gage­ment to mo­bile sites and pro­gres­sive web apps. “One of the rea­sons why a com­pany might do a sin­gle plat­form is to save en­gi­neer­ing ef­fort,” said a Zo­mato spokesper­son, adding that since the launch of its mo­bile site in 2010, the com­pany has seen traf­fic for the web rapidly shift from desk­top to mo­bile, which con­tin­ues to make it one of the most im­por­tant plat­forms for the com­pany.

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