Offline Travel PWA Prototype
The Telegraph’s travel team wanted to investigate the possibility of an offline travel guide.
People researching before they go on holiday is the main source of traffic to guide pages. They wanted to know if it was possible to save a guide offline and take it with you on the trip.
The major hurdles to overcome with the prototype were:
- There was not a structured format for the travel guides
- The existing content was created for desktop only
As with all prototypes, it is important to understand the data you have to work with. In this case, guide information was stored in handwritten HTML articles. While the articles followed a common format and style, there were slight differences between each one.
Given my experience with similar content issues in the past, I wrote a Node.js script to scrape the HTML, converting the travel pages into structured JSON.
The app needed to be fast with a small filesize to ensure a quick initial download and reduce potential roaming data costs. I chose to use Preact because it uses the same API as React but has a smaller footprint. Styles were achieved using vanilla CSS variables for a consistent look and easy tweaking.
One nice inclusion was Blurhash to create placeholder images. The library generates tiny, blurred hash versions of the images that are displayed while the main image loads.
The prototype was hosted on now.sh now vercel.com which allow for rapid deployments. This was invaluable during review meetings, allowing me to push changes for the designers to see instantly. It was possible to experiment with ideas using real devices, and that shaped the look and feel of the app.
The testing was conducted both internally and externally, providing useful feedback and suggestions.
The final result helped shape the travel content strategy, and also showcased the benefits of early prototyping and user feedback at the beginning of a project.