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ImageCon 2019 Speaker Aaron Gustafson on Media in the PWA Era

Aaron Gustafson’s Insights on PWS Technology and Rich Media

Aaron Gustafson is a senior program manager at Microsoft and former manager of the Web Standards Project, collaborates closely with partners on Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) with a focus on cross-platform compatibility. As the author of the groundbreaking book Adaptive Web Design, Aaron regularly posts on aaron-gustafson.com.

We’re thrilled to have Aaron share his insights at Cloudinary’s upcoming annual digital-media conference, ImageCon. Aaron’s featured presentation will cover potential pitfalls when incorporating service workers into Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), particularly with respect to images and videos. He’ll also offer tips for managing caches and for delivering robust, enjoyable online experiences while economizing on data usage and disk space.

We recently sat down with Aaron for a discussion on PWAs and other related topics to kick off the ImageCon 2019 Speaker Q&A blog series. If you enjoy this interview with Aaron, you can see him live at ImageCon in San Francisco, CA on May 2. Register here.

Note
Check back for our next speaker interview soon and follow all things ImageCon on Twitter at #ImageCon2019.

As a prime force of The Web Standards Project, what are you up to lately to further that effort and create global access to web technologies?

For the last few years, I’ve been heavily involved in PWAs. Being at Microsoft affords me a unique opportunity to learn about the APIs for the Universal Windows Platform (called UWP) for Microsoft Store-installed PWAs in JavaScript. That’s known as WinRT for short, which contains numerous cool features that are still under development. Once available, they could greatly enhance the capabilities, reengagement, and other components of websites.

Specifically, I’m delving into the features some of our top partners are developing, the performance of those features, and the choices of which ones to bring to the web as new standards or as upgrades to the current standards.

As the web becomes more visual, what should developers and marketers consider when designing a web or mobile app to ensure accessibility for all?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that we are not our customers. In other words, not everyone uses the same devices as ours, nor does everyone go online with the same set of technologies or at the same speed as we do. Similarly, our vision, hearing, and other senses are different. We’re in different environments; we come from different backgrounds; we live in different countries and different households. Paying close attention to the variability of human experience enables us to build products that empower people to complete tasks, communicate, and live well.

How important are PWAs in delivering feature-rich online experiences?

When I hear PWAs, I think of great web experiences. I can’t emphasize enough the P bit, that is, their progressive nature. PWA technologies—service workers, web app manifests, and such—are intended as enhancements to an already great web experience.

With service workers, we can create more resilient apps that load faster and that are more available. Service workers also enable us to synchronize data, send notifications to users, and intelligently manipulate network requests.

With web app manifests, we can smoothly install websites. Plus, those manifests contain instructions on how to expose these web projects within the operating system—from what icons and colors to use to what kinds of files to open or share.

Down the road, we expect additional web-platform features to become available with which to more seamlessly blend together web and native apps. All that might not always be PWA-specific, but a lot of the current innovation effort focuses on that space. That’s truly exciting. I can’t wait!


Check out the agenda to learn more about the fabulous lineup of speakers for ImageCon 2019.

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