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What’s Hot: Modern Web Apps

August 11, 2015

Dave Houlbrooke
Dave
Dave is CandidSky's Head of Digital, he loves connecting people and technology, and has over 15 years experience building outstanding websites and online experiences.

This article is part of our What’s Hot series — keeping you up-to-date on the latest marketing and web technology.


In the last five years, the increasing popularity of mobile devices like iPhone and Android has lead to a huge surge in popularity of mobile apps.

For consumers, the simplicity and ease-of-use of apps is a refreshing change from the ugly websites that preceded them. For businesses, apps have caused an explosion in user engagement — customers who would’ve picked up a phone, come into your store, or just abandoned your website forever, can now use online services with absolute confidence.

Horrible cluttered website form

An example of what not to do in web app design.

What are web apps?

Web applications are any interactive website designed to let users complete a task (as opposed to marketing/brochure websites, which users are visiting to gather information). These range from quick and simple online calculators, to full management intranets to run entire businesses.

Modern web apps take elements from mobile apps, like large friendly buttons and simplified forms, and apply those to websites.

Forward-thinking companies and startups have seized this approach to create modern web experiences that are streets ahead of their competitors in user satisfaction. These companies are standing out in the market, and users are leaving legacy businesses in droves. Cloud-based web apps now provide a significantly better experience than dated offline legacy databases.

Making a website feel ‘appy’

The first step is removing any unnecessary elements from the page. Users have limited attention: each additional element on a page reduces the impact of all the others! Increasing the size of content and leaving more white space, means customers have less in view at any given time (allowing them to focus on what’s important).

Keeping buttons, form fields, and other interface elements ‘chunky’ reduces users’ irritation and helps them fly quickly and confidently through your interface.

Finally, the site has to have great performance — loading spinners can completely ruin a user’s concentration. Using caching, pre-loading in the background, and optimising your app’s code are important to make your web app feel snappy, quick, and modern.

Screenshot of Google Photos

Google Photos is a great example of modern app design. It’s simple, clean, and fun to use! (And a great way to remember my niece’s first time on a boat!)

It’s about psychology

Designing a perfect web app is all about psychology. Anyone who’s ever filled out a complex paper form knows how frustrating it can be. High-performing web apps provide a reassuring calm, making users feel empowered and in control.

If you get it right, your customers will keep coming back to your site again and again, and rave about how it is to use.

You might soon be competing with a startup or big technology company, whose game-changing mobile and web apps cause a real earthquake in your industry. It’s worth planning now how you might provide a similar experience for your loyal customers too.


We love to talk about the future of technology and business.
If you’re based near Manchester and want to get together for a chat, please get in touch.

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