Uber talks about its Progressive Web App, why desktop is important

What you need to know

  • Uber offered a behind-the-scenes look at some recent improvements to its web experience.
  • The company sees the experience of using the Uber Progressive Web App and website on desktop as a priority.
  • Thirty percent of Uber users "primarily request trips on a desktop computer" according to Uber.

When you think of Uber, chances are you primarily associate it with summoning rides from your mobile phone. But for Uber, the desktop experience, using either the website or the Uber Progrsssive Web App (PWA), is just as much of a priority as the mobile app. In a recent blog post Uber senior product manager Madhur Chadha offered a deeper look at how the company views the desktop experience and details some of the improvements it has made in recent months.

Perhaps the most interesting stat to come out of the blog post is just how many Uber riders use desktop PCs to hail rides. From Chadha:

Since rolling out m.uber.com, we observed that 30 percent of riders primarily request trips on a desktop computer as opposed to on a mobile device. According to our research, riders who wanted to plan their travel in advance also tended to use and appreciate the desktop experience.

Armed with that data and feedback from users, Chadha says that Uber set out to make the experience faster, friendlier to new users, and better designed for desktop PCs. That latter effort has led Uber to a redesign desktop, focusing on new booking flow, and the ability for riders to get a better view of routes, pick-up points, and rides on a full map.

For first-time riders, Uber says its data showed that they were more likely to book their first ride on the web over downloading the app, leading to higher conversions around the world. This led the team to create a new version of the booking flow that suggests nearby pick-up points instead of relying too much on maps.

Finally, Uber pushed to optimize the web experience with a focus on speed by switching to a new framework. The result is a page that becomes interactive more quickly, making the user experience smoother.

"We want to make Uber's services accessible to everyone, not just those with the latest, greatest smartphones," says Chadha. "Leveraging tried and true platforms like the web help us reach a wider audience, including people who may live in regions where network access is slow or where phones based on older technology are more common."

Uber retired its Windows 10 app last year, replacing it with a PWA in July. While it launched as a wrapper for m.uber.com, these enhanceents show that the company has put a fair bit of work into making the desktop experience better. If you want to try theapp for yourself, it's available for free on the Microsoft Store.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl