PROGRESSIVE WEB APPS (PWA)
How did Progressive Web Application (PWA) come in to picture?
Let us go back to the 1820s when Babbage’s engine was designed to tabulate polynomial functions, such as logarithms; one machine one App, hand-built hardcoded. To get a new app we need to get Babbage to design a new machine and get trained by him, and well it took nearly two centuries for someone to actually build it.
Now moving forward to 150 years, big programs needed 10 or more floppy disks, compact disks, and later DVDs were a revolution. The MapPoint app, for example, could be brought from a bookstore. This had pan and zoom, and it completely changed trip planning, web-based maps. Well, let’s move forward a few years, Google maps happened and this worked on any computer, that you’d spent 30 minutes installing on. Google maps showed that the web’s distribution model can really work.
However, on mobile we’ve seen something different; Google maps were used on the web on desktop, but what about on mobile? Do you open a browser to use google maps on a phone? I’d guess not many of you.
So, the hardest problem with software is distribution, which works under it to understand clearly. So how does this play out on a mobile?
Well, it’s true that users spend most of their time in native apps. Re-engagement features keep users in apps like notifications bring users back even when the app is closed and home screen icons maintain visibility. But usage is highly concentrated. So, if the native ecosystem isn’t going well, why hasn’t the web been even disruptive? Here one difference between web and native is the capability access. Native apps have the ability to start up fast and reliably, they can work offline and use push, sync, sensors, and so on.
Now the web is perceived as safe and respectful of privacy, but the web doesn’t have the features of a native app.
Adding another success reach, Google data shows that mobile users visit 100 sites per month; this is the power of URLs that meets one of our needs. But what if that web would meet the user expectations? This is what a progressive web app (PWA). Web apps are finally able to earn their place on the home screen and notification tray and even also reach and reliability performance. Well, when we speak about the performance of a site, we need to check the loading speed of the website. There is a study showing that 40% of users return back if the site doesn’t load in 3 to 4 seconds.
The service worker comes into the picture in cache assets locally and reliably. They enable you to implement caching with the cache API. This means that after the first visit, sites and apps can be reliably fast.
What about the first visit, The AMP project from the Google search team was built to address the web obesity epidemic and provides reliably fast web components for the first load. These AMP components can be much faster to load. Combining AMP and service workers, loading can be fast with high performance. This is where AMP meets PWA.
WHO ARE THE KEY ENABLERS OF PWA?
- Service Workers:
- Application shell architecture:
The app’s layout is already with the service worker and hence this can be shown to the user while content is being downloaded in the background. Thus, the “app shell” is almost instantly shown to the user without any waiting time. We can think of this shell as minimal HTML, CSS, and JS without the dynamic content. APP shell is not a web API but really a design approach that works nicely with the capabilities of service workers.
- Application manifest: This tells the browser that the mobile website can be installed as an app.
Features of PWA
- The capability of offline work.
- Discoverability and easy installation.
- Usage of phone features.
- Automatic updates.
- HTTPS as a guarantee of safety & reliability of publishers.
- App-like feeling.
Benefits of PWA for Users:
Progressive Web Apps do not force users to make such hard choices because they are much lighter than native apps. Moreover, users don’t see the typical installation process. They click on a dedicated button, and a shortcut is created on the home screen. Of course, with downloaded content, PWA does also steal some space but is still far from a native app.
- Short loading time
- Good performance in poor network conditions.
- Small size
- App-like features (add to the home screen, offline mode, push notifications)
- Avoid app aggregators (Google Play, App store, etc.)
- Instant updates
PWA benefits for businesses
- PWA can be used as a communication hub with clients by avoiding third parties, reducing the risk of cooperation (with, e.g., an SMS operator or chatbot provider) in leakage of consumer data or cyber fraud.
- PWA makes the communication between a business and its customers will be smooth and effective. ,
- PWA, by providing superb UX, increases visitors’ engagement, and conversion rates.
- Moreover, with faster loading times, a PWA reduces server load and minimizes the danger of a crash or slow-down during periods of intense traffic, like Black Friday.
Apps are decreasing. On the contrary, we can see growth in app downloads each year, but the state of their usage may be alarming.
Additionally, a PWA, with its smaller size and faster installation process, gives marketers a bigger chance of successful user onboarding (from the website to the app) and, in the end, increases marketing ROI by decreasing the cost of development at the same time. This cost reduction is achieved because using a PWA means having only one website which is used as a regular website on desktop, a mobile website on smartphones and tablets, and as a multi-platform app, so there is no need to build, test and deploy a desktop website with RWD, an Android app and an iOS app, all at the same time.
- No middleman involved in the app download & installation.
- Independence in the app updates process.
- Undisturbed digital journey with weak or non-existent connectivity.
- Shot loading time, even in traffic peaks.
- Higher user engagement and conversion rates.
- Support in search results
- Seamless onboarding from social channel 9instagram, etc.).and higher marketing ROI
- Decreased cost of User Acquisition
- Increased cross-platform conversion
- All-in-one process of development, updates, and product information.
Benefits of PWA to Developers:
- Modern development approach.
- Positive developer experience.
- Possibility to work with headless architecture.
- No need for separate App development for IOS and Android OS.
- No need for paid developers account on Google Play, App store
- Short time to market.
- Independence of backend with PWA platform.