An app in a weekend: PWAs to the rescue

Ryan Hayden
Sep 7, 2017 · 3 min read

I love the local YMCA. I swim there every week and even fill in as a lifeguard once a month or so. My kids are on the YMCA swim team (go Seals) and I’ve made a lot of friends there.

One of my favorite things our Y does is called “The Ironman Challenge” — once a year you sign up to compete in a full Ironman. The only catch is you have 8 weeks to do it. The Ironman challenge was actually my first taste of Triathlons, and the thing that first got me into swimming.

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So imagine my excitement when the Y contacted Row and Table and asked us to make them an app to automate and track the Ironman challenge. The only catch — the Ironman challenge starts in two weeks.

Here is what we came up with:

Airtable for administration

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We setup a simple Airtable base with three tables: A participants table for storing participants names, a four digit pin, and other details. A workouts table tied to the participants for recording individual workouts with a time stamp, and a quote table.

Airtable is perfect for something like this. The front desk staff record information when a member signs up for the challenge, and the fitness director can easily add and change participants, update or correct a workout, etc. or add a motivational quote.

A Simple Design

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We made a simple design that matched the look of the IronMan challenge and only has three screens: A sign in screen, a home screen that shows current progress, and a modal screen for recording workouts. Users will immediately know where they stand and how much farther they have to go.

PWAs to the rescue

The last problem we faced was do we make this as a website? a native app? just iOS?

We decided to try a Progressive Web App. For those of you who don’t know, a Progressive Web App (or PWA) is a website with special technologies that (among other things) let it function like a native app on mobile phones. When a user goes to a URL on their phone, they are prompted to install the app on their home screen and from that point, they seem just like a native app.

Native apps are expensive and its hard to keep up multiple code bases, in many cases, PWAs work just as well if not better and save some serious money.

Conclusion

We were able to create a completely custom app that will work on almost all mobile phones, be easier to install, save the Y staff time and provide a better experience for the challenge participants. We did it way under budget and on an extremely quick deadline.

If you would like us to work with you and create a PWA for your business, call us for a free consultation at (877) 462–5160.

Row and Table

We make custom software for businesses and non-profits and…

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