Progressive Web Apps: Everything You Need to Know

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Do you want to build an intuitive app for your business combining the features of web and mobile applications? Read till the end! This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know about progressive web apps (from benefits to development).

People have changed, their behavior towards mobile technology has changed with time, or it’s rather better if we say ‘evolved’ instead of changed. In recent past years, app development has gradually taken over web development (not completely). Businesses who own a website are now considering investing in mobile app development to win a competitive advantage over others.

Started with the native approach, then hybrid app development, and now Progressive Web App (PWA) development, the mobile app technology has surely paved a revolutionary path. PWA technology has made its way into the web and mobile domains in no time. The best thing about PWAs is that it can work on both iOS and Android devices, saving money on developing different iOS and Android mobile apps.

Let’s have a look at some promising market stats of PWAs:

  • PWAs have 36% higher conversion rates than native apps.
  • PWAs have 50% higher customer engagement.
  • Businesses noticed ten times faster page loading after switching to PWAs.
  • PWAs cost four times less than the native mobile apps along with one-third less app maintenance cost.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive web apps are website apps that look, feel, and act like a native mobile app in a lightweight version. These apps use technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. Deployed on the cloud server, PWAs combine both web apps and mobile apps’ functionality and features and can easily be accessed through the URLs.

In simpler words, PWAs are hybrids of regular websites and mobile apps. Along with PWAs offering several benefits over native apps, they also overcome the main disadvantages of using a browser for online surfing and provide an app-like customer experience. Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Samsung browser, and others support PWAs.

Some successful PWA app examples that may inspire you:

  • Pinterest – Core engagements increased by 60% after adopting the PWA approach. (source)
  • Starbucks – 2x increase in their daily active users. (source)
  • Twitter – a 65% increase in pages per section, a 75% increase in Tweets sent, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate. (source)
  • Forbes – Mobile sessions increased by 80%, bounce rate decreased by 42.86%, and page views increased by nearly 134%. (source)
  • The Washington Post – Noticed 88% improvement in load time compared to the mobile website. (source)

How Are PWAs Different Than Native Apps?

PWAs are like mobile apps but are not an actual mobile app; it’s more of a self-contained program. PWAs are more like Google docs because they can perform the same functions as native apps but via browsers.

Let’s have a look at a few differences between PWAs and native apps!

  • Progressive – As the name says, a progressive web app must work on any device, platform, and browser. Its progressive enhancement makes PWAs stand out from traditional apps.
  • Responsive – PWAs offer responsiveness and accessibility, allowing users to access the apps via desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices.
  • Discoverable – Being a website, PWAs are easily discoverable in search engines. This is one of the biggest advantages of choosing PWAs over native apps.
  • Linkable – PWA uses the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) to indicate the application’s current state, enabling the web app to reload its state when the user shares the app’s URL.
  • Installable – A progressive web app can easily be installed on the device’s home screen, making it readily available for users on desktop and mobile phones, just like an app.
  • Secured – PWAs are hosted over HTTPS to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and making the user experience more seamless and secure than native apps.
  • Connectivity-Independent – PWAs eliminate the connectivity-independence and allow users to use them despite limited or no internet connection, making it the PWA’s biggest trait.

Top 9 Business Benefits of Choosing PWAs

Businesses often wonder which one to choose between PWAs vs native apps. However, after glancing over the PWAs’ unbeatable functionality and performance level, companies generally don’t have any confusion; they instantly make up their mind of going with PWA. Here are a few business benefits of choosing PWA over the native app.

Responsive Design

PWAs are highly responsive, and they can automatically adjust according to the display size. Responsive design makes PWAs progressive and accessible on a variety of devices. So, you need not worry whether you’re using a smartphone, desktop, laptop, tablet, or other devices; PWAs have got your back with providing a smooth user experience.

Mobile-First

Today, every business is considering a ‘mobile-first’ approach to reach maximum users. Progressive web apps use mobile design themes from the app world; thus, PWAs and mobile-first go hand in hand to give people a completely mobile-first experience. Therefore, to increase conversion, businesses must switch to the mobile-first approach implementing PWA.

Lightweight and Easy Accessibility

The most attractive advantage of progressive web apps is that they’re lightweight and don’t absorb much device memory compared to native apps. PWAs don’t take device storage space as they allow users to access the content without the constraint of having to download an app. You just need to add the web’s URL to your device’s home screen, and you’re good to go.

Smooth, Intuitive, and Native-Like Feel

‘The best thing about PWAs is they maintain the app-like structure and give you a native-like look and feel without even downloading the app from stores. As mentioned earlier, PWAs are feature-packed, combining the advantages of web and apps, thus delivering native-like user experience.

Faster Page Loading

Today’s users want everything faster, speedy internet, food delivery, website loading, etc., and apps are no exception. In fact, as per the Google study, 53% of users abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Thus, PWAs reduce the wait time and enhance the user experience by making the apps load faster than conventional sites.

High-Converting

Looking at the examples of companies switching to PWAs (mentioned above), it’s clear that adopting PWA has increased their conversions. PWAs lead to higher mobile conversions that will bring more customers and sales, thus maximizing your ROI.

Cost-Effective

As PWAs are not an actual app but a tweaked website that works like an app, companies do not need to spend a considerable amount of money building a PWA. Also, one PWA runs on every platform, streamlining your cost. Therefore, the cost of developing a PWA is much less than for a native app, and every business can afford it.

SEO Booster

Search engines easily index PWAs, thus helping you gain visibility and increasing organic traffic. It is believed that 9 out of 10 online users start with search queries. Therefore, combining SEO and the benefits of PWAs, you can gain more users, increase profits and conversions, reach new markets, and grow your business effectively.

Offline Accessibility

PWAs offer offline functionality; they can be accessed offline when there is no internet connection, leveraging data cached during your last interaction with the app. Unlike a website that won’t respond when a mobile device is offline, a PWA ensures and allows users to view the content with no internet.

How to Build a PWA?

Progressive web apps rely on the user’s browser capabilities. A minimum of four key requirements is required for an application to be PWA. Let’s dive deeper and learn about them!

JSON Web App Manifest

PWA is described in a JSON file called the manifest (Web App Manifest). This file contains the metadata necessary for your app to be indexed and install the app on the user’s home screen. The file allows for a native rendering of the app with a full-screen display, identifiable icons, and even the option to change the screen’s orientation.

Service Workers

It is a technological basis of several features that differentiate PWAs from usual websites. It acts as a proxy between the network and the application. It’s positioned between the app and the browser and can strongly modify the app’s behavior. Service Workers are an essential component in PWAs reception of push notifications and allow PWAs to be used offline.

Icon

Users do not need to download the app from app stores. Thus, it provides an ‘add to home screen’ app icon using which a user can install the PWA on their smartphone’s home screen. The tool helps to generate icons for multiple formats, which is considered really beneficial.

Served Over HTTPs

A PWA needs to be served over a secure network so that hackers can’t brute-force. Cloudflare and LetsEncrypt provide you with an SSL certificate. Being a secure website, it is not only a best practice, but it also establishes your web app as a trusted site for users demonstrating trust and reliability.

Tools and Technologies to Build PWAs: Top Frameworks for PWA Development

PWA is surely taking the web app development by stride. If you’re too thinking of leveraging PWA technology, you first need to decide which framework to build it on. There are several options available to build PWAs. However, you need to choose a framework that ensures robustness and reliability.

Here, we’ve mentioned some of the most notable PWA frameworks and tools you can leverage to build PWAs.

Let’s have a look!

  • Angular
  • React
  • Vue
  • Ionic
  • Polymer
  • Svelte

What Is the Future of Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive web apps have shown a new way to deliver an incomparable and unbeatable user experience on the web by offering immersive features that have been reserved only for native apps as of now. With the mobile-first approach, PWA has already taken the app development industry by storm and will take over the web world completely in the years to come.

As mentioned earlier, many big market players, including Pinterest, Starbucks, Twitter, Forbes, The Washington Post, and others, have already adopted PWA and noticed an amazing response in terms of increased traffic, better conversion, load time improvement, decrease in bounce rate, and more. Considering this, PWAs will arguably stand against the native mobile app industry’s stronghold in the future.

Final Thoughts!

After knowing the power of PWA, almost every business would want to reap its benefits. Progressive web apps make the process of accessing app functions convenient for users; thus, they are arguably the next big thing in the web app development industry. The widespread adoption of PWAs by many big giants tell you that Progressive web apps can give significant competitive advantages over others and help businesses to thrive in no time.

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