How to extend your reach with inclusive cloud apps

Cloud apps have the power to help you reach more people, but you'll only maximize that reach if you start with an inclusive mindset.

December 12, 2022
Alex, Director of Technology, has 10+ years of development expertise, innovating on projects with tech industry leaders.
3 min read
3 min read
December 12, 2022
Alex, Director of Technology, has 10+ years of development expertise, innovating on projects with tech industry leaders.

Consider users everywhere

When you think about where and how you’ll host your cloud app, you need to consider the broadest user base — not just the city dweller with the latest iPhone.

Billions of potential users are constrained in the ways they access cloud services by things like:

Slow networks

4G and 5G are growing fast, but research firm Strategy Analytics recently reported that 46% of global phone users still use 2G or 3G networks. Operators may be moving towards sunsetting 2G and 3G in the most advanced markets, but billions of people won’t get 4G and 5G anytime soon.

Any cloud app will work well over the 5G firehose. How well does yours work when sipped through a 3G straw?

Constrained devices

Billions of users access apps from phones that aren’t optimized for complex apps. They might have limited battery power, older browsers, slower chips or a combination of all three (not to mention small screen sizes with low resolution).

Does your cloud app run smoothly on devices with more basic, less powerful hardware?

Under-served locations

There are billions of people in less developed countries, but you won’t reach them if you’re not building cloud apps for everyone, including those whose locations or languages aren’t always considered. Your cloud app can bridge that divide.

Your cloud app works beautifully in the world’s well-served cities. But what about under-served populations in rural areas and less developed cities?

Servers surrounded by plant vines and grass

Think infrastructure

While UX and UI matter, inclusivity extends to your decisions about architecture. Just like you can’t deliver a great cloud app if you ignore the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines published by the Worldwide Web Consortium (WC3), you also can't ignore infrastructure decisions like:

Hosting for a global user base

At its heart, the cloud is a distributed infrastructure. Choosing a major cloud platform makes it easy to enable access for global or multi-regional audiences. Google, AWS and Azure have servers worldwide and efficient content delivery networks so that you can offer high-performance, low-latency apps just about everywhere.

Using cloud tools to lighten the load

Serving overly large payloads of JavaScript to a device every time a user makes a request is a sure way to exclude people. Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration tools like Google’s Cloud Build help you build for everyone by controlling how and when you can deliver light, static files instead of big, bulky apps.

Compressing and optimizing your content and code helps you deliver the smallest packages possible. These optimizations can be offloaded to background workers which can improve a user’s experience even when devices and networks are severely constrained.

Testing and iterating

Free cloud testing tools like Google Lighthouse help you gauge if your web app is functional and accessible before it ships. When we build cloud apps, we use cloud services to run Lighthouse automatically and check that scores meet all requirements for performance, accessibility, discoverability and more.

Your cloud app might be architected for everyone, but it can still contain hidden biases that put some users at a disadvantage.

Algorithms can be inclusive, too

We recently helped Google improve the Google Partners directory to remove a bias towards English-speaking partners and countries. To do it, we created an inclusive algorithm, backed by a system of cloud services, that delivered more equal opportunities for Partners across 30+ countries in multiple languages and alphabets.

Now, the directory provides a more level playing field for all Google Partners.

Screen grabs from the Google Partners Directory website

Reach Further

Cloud apps offer the ability to get great experiences to anyone, anywhere, allowing you to scale up your cloud apps efficiently and serve the broadest possible user base.

By considering inclusivity and accessibility from the beginning—from the architecture and infrastructure to the UX and code base—you can make the most of your app and reach more of the world.