Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Progressive Web App Feature: The Weather Channel

Just in case you missed it, brands we love are adopting Progressive Web Apps in their mobile strategies and seeing some great results. PWAs are fully supported by Apple and Google and are better for brands to create personalized mobile experiences that go beyond mobile-responsive sites and native apps. Companies are choosing PWAs over mobile apps because they don’t require a download, they can work in low-to-no service areas, you can still opt-in for push notifications, and they generally have a shorter lead time for development. Users just don’t want to download any more apps—51 percent of users don’t download any new apps in a month, so we can forget about the age-old saying “There’s an app for that!” This week’s PWA feature is the Weather Channel, so let’s dive in and see what the forecast for this new mobile tech is.  

The Problem
As one of the most technologically advanced and accurate weather reporting tools, the Weather Channel consistently provides weather tracking and empowers people to make better decisions about the weather. The Weather Channel had a native mobile app that saw only half of the mobile traffic being recorded. Where was the other half? The Weather Channel’s mobile website, which wasn’t fully optimized for every mobile system, leading to delays in information and no way to enable push notifications for severe weather. The team in charge saw a PWA as a viable option to solve most of the major issues they were having on mobile.

The PWA
The Weather Channel turned to PWAs in order to provide a better mobile experience for those on non-updated smartphones, but even more than that, they wanted to make sure that all users could have access to weather forecasts and radars regardless of connectivity. The PWA checked both of those boxes, allowing users to access it regardless of connectivity. It also allows users to opt-in for push notifications to keep them informed about severe weather threats, and features a far more mobile friendly design than their previous website. The PWA has a navigation bar at the bottom and search bar at the top, allowing for an easier way to input their city’s info and get the latest weather reports.

The Results
After the roll out, the mobile team saw an 80 percent load time improvement (huge for reducing bounce rates!) and more than 500,000 users opted-in for mobile push notifications from the PWA. VP of Web Development at The Weather Channel, Wendy Frazier, spoke to the accessibility of the PWA: “For the first time, we can reach people anywhere, which extends our mission to keep people safe and informed. It’s amazing to be able to do that globally, but with local presence and in language to make it relevant. We have the most accurate forecasts and the best data, and progressive technologies give us the ability to provide weather info to users in their preferred experience”. The PWA’s Lighthouse scoring shows a perfect 100 for SEO and a 90 for accessibility.

 

Their performance has dropped significantly with a recent update and definitely needs some improvements to score better in a new update, but The Weather Channel is getting in early on some really great mobile technology and seeing the results in the user experience regardless. And with the recent hurricanes as a reminder, it’s more important than ever to have safety updates accessible for everyone.