The Benefits of Building a Progressive Web App

PWAs offer more than an improved user experience. The inherent properties of the web platform means they can also help businesses solve real problems from reach to maintenance.

Easy distribution and discovery

Consider the friction of distributing a native app: it must pass tricky approval rules, submit to mandated revenue sharing, and gain attention in a crowded app stores. And it could all be for nothing: the average number of apps installed per month is 0 (comScore, 2017). For many businesses, it’s a risky path to take

Contrast that with PWA. Being a website, they’re already available and swiftly updated. Users can discover them naturally through organic and paid search, or via shared links on social media, so marketing efforts are combined. They can also enjoy the new features immediately, right in their browser, before choosing to install.

Cross-platform reach

Native apps only work on the platform they’re created for. That means developing separate iOS and Android apps to cover most phones, and more versions if you want to reach desktop users. Full coverage requires significant upfront development, and creates a large maintenance demand. On the other hand, PWAs are built using web technologies, meaning that they’ll naturally work anywhere the web does.

The “progressive” element of PWAs is also important here. It relates to the important concept of progressive enhancement, whereby a baseline experience which works anywhere can be enhanced by taking advantage of more advanced features supported by the browser or device. So a PWA may function as a normal website in older environments, as a performant app on your smartphone, and then have some extra tricks on Windows 10, where PWAs have access to additional system resources and APIs.

Native-like interactions

Through the web app manifest, PWAs can break free of the web browser and be installed on a user’s home screen. This is key to encouraging re-engagement, as 86% of time on mobiles is spent in apps. Not only does the user get a full-screen app experience, but through modern web technologies, they can enjoy most of the same features that have made native-apps so useful.

There are many device integration APIs now available including key capabilities that users have come to expect, including geolocation, camera access, sensor input, payment processing, and VR. Push notifications are a headline feature of PWAs, and retailers could be using them to display flash sale alerts, product restock notices, or abandoned cart prompts.

Faster performance

When 53% of users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load (DoubleClick, 2016), it’s clear that performance should be at the top of your list for improving retention and conversion. If you need convincing, try Google’s revenue impact calculator to see what your load times are costing.

A PWA benefits from smarter cache control, allowing websites that are already streamlined to become truly turbo-charged. The result: a PWA can be launched from a home screen and ready to use in less than a second, rivalling and often beating native apps. This performance boost is a big deal to user experience, but also to bandwidth usage, and will have a huge benefit in emerging markets which depend on wireless connections.

Offline service

By caching assets and content, it’s also possible for a PWA to continue working offline, or when a poor connection impedes loading, so users no longer have to be roadblocked by a blank grey screen. At the very least, the situation should be handled gracefully using a simple “You’re offline” screen.

But far smarter solutions could be achieved that allow users to carry on with their journey. A PWA for eCommerce might recall a handful of recently viewed products for review, or alternatively some top sellers that summarise what’s available. A retailer with high street stores could also offer key details like opening hours to continue facilitating visits.

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It’s clear that implementing PWA offers a range of wins for businesses. It is easily implemented using current web technologies, and delivers a superior experience for users, which in turn raises satisfaction, encourages engagement, and improves conversion. JH is already including PWA features in projects, and we believe they will become as commonly used as Responsive Web Design.

 

Original Article

 

Have you heard of PWA (Progressive Web Apps)?

PWA’s are a great idea. They are definitely going to make some changes to the way we interact with apps on our devices.

  1. They are more reasonable in terms of time and money to develop. Basically, you’d be developing a website and app at the same time.
  2. They function like a native app, for the most part, and if made right, have awesome UX. 
  3. A lot of bigger businesses are developing PWA versions of their native apps because they are realising the benefits of doing so

There’s so much information out there, but you can read more below and decide for yourself.


Progressive Web Apps are:

  • alternative to traditional native apps,
  • are more cost and time efficient to develop
  • can also broaden a business’s target market.

What is a PWA?

Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, are web apps that load like regular websites or web pages, but behave like native apps.

Simply, they’re a website you can download onto your phone. They’re actually a website with no search bar and access to your storage so they can save things to your phone, like photos. In some cases, it’s possible to send push notifications even when the user isn’t on the website.

There are a lot of benefits to this new technology, but first, it’s worth taking a look at the differences between PWAs and native apps.

PWA vs Native App

PWAs, in a lot of ways, behave like Native Apps. But there are some key differences.

PWAs don’t require an app store, which gives more freedom concerning creating different types of apps. Also, PWAs are progressive, meaning that they work for every user, regardless of their browser choice or device and fit desktop, mobile and tablet screens.

They’re connectivity independent, so they can work offline or on low-quality networks and are very easy to install. The PWA icon will be displayed on the user’s home screen without having to deal with app stores.

It’s also important to note that writing a website is much quicker, and therefore more cost-effective — building a PWA is like making a website and app at the same time! The developers can create one version of the app that’ll display the same way, and seamlessly, on all devices

Finally, PWAs are far more lightweight, meaning that they take up less space on your user’s devices, but also allow your users to consume less data.

PWAs are still a new technology, and that means they aren’t perfect. Not just because anyone can use them, because older browsers might not support them. Also, a lot of people might not know how they work and won’t realise they could install the website like an app. It may also be said that they’re harder to find because they aren’t readily available in app stores yet. There are still some fun functions that can’t be used with PWAs, like fingerprint scanning, but it’s only a matter of time before PWAs start to function the same, if not better than native apps.

Why Build a PWA?

Most companies that need to target a broader audience on their mobile devices are creating PWAs. Mobile websites are quick and easy to get, but the user experience isn’t great. Native apps have excellent user experience, but they are limited to specific devices and must be downloaded from an app store. This means that businesses lose the benefit of their users’ impulse behaviour. PWAs pre-cache, which means that they download the most recent version of the site when they connect to the internet.

Compared to native apps, PWAs are generally just more efficient and work on demand — they’re always accessible. It’s also easy to re-engage users through features like push notifications.

PWAs are app-like, and use app-style navigation and interactions, so users won’t feel that they have the same problems when trying to navigate tricky websites on their mobile devices. The user also consumes less data and doesn’t have to sacrifice any of conveniences they would have using a native app.

Many businesses are now moving towards creating PWAs to save on costs, but also because they want to reach a wider audience. As a result of native apps being developed specifically for iOS or Android, and the fact that they often consume a large amount of data limits businesses to a smaller audience of users. Some of the more notable PWA projects and their successes are Twitter, StarBucks, Trivago and Forbes.

PWAs Are Awesome!

For business owners, developing a PWA rather than a native app, or alongside an existing native app, is absolutely worthwhile. It means a business can save more time and more money. On average, companies that have built PWAs managed to do so in roughly 3 months. Because of the overall efficiency in developing PWAs, developers have been sharing their knowledge about how to make an app a PWA.

Depending on the project, having a PWA developed can be a smarter move, especially if the business goal is to broaden your market reach, you’re working with a smaller budget or just want to build something using the latest technology!

Have an idea – drop us a line idea@automationsquared.com