While many of us think that it is normal for businesses to have websites and then transfer their resources to a native or hybrid app to help accessibility for the vast majority of users, it happens the opposite way as well. There are many business startups who started as apps and over time really expanded to deliver fully fledged web experience. In recent times among the big names, the examples of Uber, Instagram and a few other mobile web applications come to mind.

But before you decide to expand your regular app and develop a web app, it is important to know the readings for doing this and what exactly are the benefits a web app can deliver.

Why Expand The Native App To a Web App, In The First Place?

When you already have a native app alive and kicking, why you need to expand over the web? There are obviously specific reasons behind expanding these native apps to the web. Let us now explain these reasons one by one.

  • Most businesses to continue with their growth story need to continuously rediscover their potential with a newer audience. With native apps, they are likely to have a particular type of audience and a user base. On the other hand, the web allows them to reach out to a new potential audience.
  • The other big reason to unleash a web app is to help users access a service or contents without downloading the app. The downloading has constraints of storage, network usage and screen space. The web offers more freedom to access a service or a range of products at will.
  • The web is also about creating a brand identity by establishing a strong connection with users through quality contents. One can easily allow the app content to take on the competitive search engine results and drive search traffic.

The Use Cases And Examples Of Native Apps

There are several apps that starting with their native and platform-specific presence, expanded to the web over time. There are several social media giants, messaging apps and highly sought-after services that fall into this category. On the fly, it is important to remember that many of these apps also fall into the category of progressive web apps. Let’s have a look at some of these popular and well-known cases of native apps that later on expanded to the web.

  • 1Password: This tremendously popular service that helped users accessing and storing password information in an orderly fashion, recently became a web service. Along with the launch of the service over the web, the app also launched a new subscription service as well.
  • Telegram: Telegram is a much appreciated secure messaging app that achieved tremendous popularity and traction with its native app. Recently it has been launched over the web to help users accessing a vast majority of features online.
  • Uber: Just to allow users using the platform for cab booking without really downloading the app, Uber recently launched a lightweight app for mobile users. This will also help users without having access to the latest smartphone devices and required data plans.
  • WhatsApp: WhatsApp is another great example of expanding a popular native app over the web and to help all users stay in sync whether on their mobile or on the browser.

Designing For Web Apps vs. Native Apps

Expanding the native app over the web simply doesn’t mean making the copy of the entire app on the web platform. From the backend architecture to the multitude of design decisions to performance testing, such expansion comes with a lot of challenges.

In this respect we must remember that the difference between the web and native mobile apps are decreasing rapidly and anytime in the near future we can expect most apps to become sort of hybrid apps sharing the characteristics of both native and web apps in a proportionate and user-centric manner. The popularity of React Native appĀ development to incorporate web and hybrid functionality is worth remembering in this respect.

Obviously, as far as design is concerned both native and web apps will have several differences since the usability and target audience of both apps are different. When designing a new web app by extending the previous native app, remember the following aspects.

  • Over the web, you have bigger real estate compared to the constrained space of a native app. Naturally, all those applications that need saving a lot of data locally, can benefit from the web. Any memory savvy app by expanding over the web can find a comprehensive solution for storage constraints.
  • By expanding to the web an application can accommodate more contents, experimental design elements, interactive design attributes and all the elements that make an overhead burden for a native app with device-specific constraints.
  • Another major challenge is to accommodate various types of on-screen interactions or offering substitute elements for completing the respective actions. For instance, native apps offer a very fluid and smooth user experience with tap targets subjected to zoom, pinch, swipe, shake and other gesture controls. When expanding the same app over the web, these interactive inputs and gestures need to be replaced by more visual elements and clickable links, buttons and targets.

Key Design Tips For Expanding a Native App Over The Web

A native app which is otherwise accessible to the users of a mobile platform quite instantly will have a whole array of design challenges related to new user-experience expectations. As we have already mentioned, designing a fresh web app while keeping most of the core design elements and key features intact, is not easy. You can hire React Native developer or developers with a different skill set for web app development, but you need to have a solid grasp over these changes. Considering these challenges, here we are going to explain a few useful design tips for such tasks.

  • Request Processing: It is important to understand that a web app can process requests mainly in two ways. Either the browser communicates with the server through Web Forms postbacks or the RESTful service calls make service requests between them. While both of these ways have their respective pros and cons, choosing any of them can have serious implication on the design decision.
  • Authentication: Web is far less secure than the native platforms and so to do away with the vulnerabilities, the app needs stringent authentication. Only through a very well-crafted authentication strategy, one can prevent attacks related to spoofing, session hijacking, etc.
  • Authorisation: Authorisation is another important aspect that makes the security cover of a web app better. A good authorisation strategy can improve application reliability and prevent data tampering, information theft, unwanted access and disclosure, etc.
  • Caching: Caching helps to prevent delay in loading time, unwanted network travel for loading a page and to avoid duplicate or redundant processing. Caching makes web app smarter and more useful.
  • Managing exceptions: Exception management is a crucial part of any web application and it is crucial to safeguard crucial information about the exceptions from leaking out. This helps a web application to become least susceptible to errors and vulnerable.
  • Navigation: When designing a web app you need to design it in such a way so that the navigation keeps itself separate from processing logic. This approach will ultimately help users processing through the screens and pages at a faster pace. The popularity of React Native navigation features can be attributed to this.
  • Page Layout: When building a web app separating the page layout from the UI components us equally important. If you are giving the task to designers, make sure that the layout design doesn’t involve any coding.
  • Page Rendering: One needs to design the web app for better page rendering. You must design to ensure smooth and efficient rendering of pages and usability of the interface.
  • Session Management: When designing a web application managing the sessions to ensure security and accessibility is important. For session management some of the crucial aspects to consider include the storage destination for login information, the way such information will be stored, etc.
  • Validation: One of the most crucial aspects for maintaining app security is the proper validation. Non-optimised validation of inputs can put a website to the risks of cross-site scripting, attacks like SQL injection, etc.
Conclusion

Expanding to the website, is one of the most credible options for a native app to reach a wider audience and to optimise business conversion. But, while doing this business apps need to focus on the key user experience parameters and related design decisions.

Do you want to build a new web app or would you like to expand your earlier native app over the web? In either case, it is advisable to take expert advice and hire a development and design team with sufficient prior experience in similar projects.

Let us know about your specific query. Just drop us a message and we are going to engage with you at the earliest.