What are Progressive Web Apps?
Coined by designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell in 2015, Progressive Web Apps are generally a collection of technologies, design concepts, and Web APIs that aims at bringing users expected features from native apps to the mobile browser experience.
Progressive Web Apps (or PWA) primarily uses modern web capabilities to deliver app-like experience to users on the mobile web. These apps are easy to install and live on user’s home screen, thus eradicating the dependency of users on app stores for installing or purchasing apps.
With help from a web app manifest file, Progressive Web Apps provide users an immersive full screen experience, and can prove to be beneficial for SMBs in re-engaging users with web push notifications.
A Revolution in the Digital World
When Twitter decided to launch its Progressive Web App in partnership with Google to deliver native-app like experience to its users globally, and made it default mobile experience in April 2017, PWA instantly became a clear winner with a 75% increase in tweets sent!
Later, when MakeMyTrip introduced a progressive web app for their customers to deliver an effective and reliable mobile booking experience, the company saw an amazing 160% increase in shopper sessions, while their overall conversion rate tripled.
Next came Alibaba.com, the largest business-to-business trading platform, who upgraded its mobile website to progressive web app and experienced an amazing 76% rise in conversions and four times higher interaction rate.
Such results clearly states that PWA is a new revolution in digital world, and becoming the new standard for web interactions among users.
Why build Progressive Web Apps?
Developing a progressive web app has numerous benefits, ranging from growing engagement to increasing conversions. So, let’s discuss in detail why it is important to build progressive web apps:
Fast to install, space and data friendly
When every criteria of progressive web apps is fulfilled, users can easily add the app to their smartphone’s home screen. Not just easy installation, progressive web apps also consume less space and are much more data friendly, than native mobile apps.
Work and feel Just Like a Native App
Progressive web apps deliver immersive user experience like native apps, and are far better, when it comes to responding instantly to user interactions with silky smooth simulations and no janky scrolling.
No need to worry about network conditions
Yes, these progressive web apps allows users to work reliably even in the worst network conditions. When Konga, a Nigerian electronic commerce company, introduced PWA for their customers, the company sent 63% less data for initial page loads, while 84% less data to complete the first transaction.
Deliver seamless experience across all devices, Desktop, Mobile, tablets
No matter, whether you are using iPhone, or tablet, with progressive web apps, you are sure to get seamless experience across all devices. You can even use your progressive web app on desktops, without any hassle.
Don’t require App store or Google play account, email or credit card
One of the best things about progressive web apps is that users don’t need to depend on app stores, like Google Play, or iTunes, to install or purchase apps. Yes, you got it right! No app stores. No email or credit cards. Simply add to home screen, and you are good to go!
Allow to Send Push Notifications
Just like native mobile apps, progressive web apps also allows you to send push notifications. However, in case of PWAs, you will be given full control over how to implement this option, which means you need to create an entire new channel for different processes, like sales, email newsletters etc.
One of the top features of progressive web apps is that they are self-updating, which gives them an upper edge over native mobile apps that needs to be updated after every new version.
Increased User Engagement
With PWA, you can surely increase user engagement just like eXtra Electronics, Saudi Arabia’s fastest-growing consumer electronics and home appliance retailer. The company experienced 4X increase in user engagement, while users spent twice the time on site, than before.
It’s the result of progressive web apps that companies like AliExpress experienced immense growth in conversion rates of new user across all browsers by 104%, while for iOS by 82%.
Last, but not the least, progressive web apps run over HTTPS, thus providing safe and secure browsing experience to users. Moreover, these apps also prevent spoofing and interception of data by operating on HTTPs.
Now you may be interested in knowing how progressive web apps work? Undoubtedly, there are some key technologies that makes a web app to be actually progressive. Let’s delve in to know the technologies behind progressive web apps:
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Since standard web pages comprises of numerous JS-scripts, which slows down the loading, therefore progressive web apps make use of accelerated mobile pages, the lighter version of actual web pages, to deliver smoother user experience. Utilizing AMPs improves the loading speed of progressive web apps, thus saving time of the users.
The Push API enables progressive web apps to instantly receive messages sent from the server, irrespective of whether the app is running at back end, or loaded by user. This keeps the users informed about every new content updated on the app.
Service Worker API
Considered to be the heart of progressive web apps, Service Worker API is an event-driven worker that performs various processes listed below:
- Intercepts and modifies navigation and resource requests
- Keeps cache resources in great detail
- Gives full control over application behavior in a particular situation
Features of Service Worker API
Now you know why Service Worker API is considered as the heart of PWA. So, let’s know what Service Worker API features:
- Completely asynchronous, which means no use of synchronous APIs, such as XHR and localStorage
- Catches request from the clients under scope only
- Runs completely over HTTPS, making it quite secure than native apps
- Performs when any event occurs, and works as much as required to process the event
Though, everyone is considering progressive web apps as the next big thing happening to mobile, still they are expecting Service Worker to be even more functional than it is now.
Summarizing the above, it is clear that progressive web apps is sure to make web apps similar to native mobile apps by expanding their functionality.
Though progressive web apps are becoming favorites of many, still they need to overcome the disadvantages listed below:
- They are new, so it’s raw
- Lack of implementation
- Lack in browser support (Safari doesn’t support PWAs, Firefox and Microsoft are yet to provide support for PWAs)
Since more and more companies are turning towards progressive web apps, so no need to worry at all, these minuses of PWAs can easily be resolved in near future.
So take advantage of future knocking at your doors, and create amazing progressive web apps in a matter of minutes at Appy Pie.