What is a Progressive Web App
A PWA is not an API or specific technology, but it is a web development approach that implements a combination of tools and technologies already available to deliver an ideal experience to the targeted users.
The basic concept of PWA is to deliver the native app experience within a browser. The app needs to be:
- Responsive – in order to look equally good on any device is given
- Available offline – considered one of the more affordable options for smaller businesses, but can become costly as the business grows
- Installable – despite being in the browser, the user needs to be able to create a shortcut and get notifications
- SEO optimized – getting the best of two worlds of websites and apps, the PWA is seen by Google as a website, thus indexed and searchable
- Shareable – unlike the native app, every asset accessible in PWA is available on any platform, so it is convenient to share images or content via email or social media
- App-like interactions – last but not least, the PWA needs to deliver the native app-like experiences, leveraging the hardware of the device, including a camera or the accelerometer.
It is similar to an art form that merges the best of both worlds — websites and mobile apps. PWAs deliver mobile app like experience to the users without installing an application from App Store/Play Store.
For Native App, before users can use your app you need to get them to download it first. So you will need them to:
- go to the App Store/Play Store
- search for your app
- click to install
- accept permissions
- wait for it to download
In each of these steps, you can lose 20% of your potential users.
So this is basically what your app is up against: millions of other apps in the same store, a cumbersome installation process, and users who spent virtually all of their time on just ten apps.
On top of that, building a native app is expensive. Unless you build a hybrid app you will need to build two versions of the same app: one for iOS and one for Android. Considering that most apps lose 77% of their users within 3 days, you might want to think twice about even building one.
Of course, the most popular apps do much better, but even the top 100 apps lose almost half of their users in the first 3 days after installation.
Why not just optimize the mobile experience of your website?
An increasing number of your users are on mobile devices and an increasing number of these users are on mobile devices only. So you need to make sure that your website provides a good user experience on mobile.What if you could even turn that mobile experience into an app-like experience?
Well now you can.
Any website can be a Progressive Web App
A Progressive Web App (PWA) is just a website with some extra features. Adding these features will turn your website into a PWA so this means that basically, any website can be a PWA.
There are actually only two features you will need to add: a service worker and a manifest.json file.
This means that whenever you’re offline you can still send a request to your website and it can serve a cached response for example. You could have an app that edits a document on a remote server. When offline, it can save the requests to edit the document locally and send them to the server later when the app is back online.
This way, you can make your website provide an app-like user experience without having to build a full-fledged native app.
The manifest.json file lists the icons your app uses, its start URL, and screen orientation among other things.
Technically speaking, serving your site over HTTPS and having a service worker and manifest.json file is all you need to turn your website into a PWA.
There’s no way back
The benefits of PWAs are just too great compared to native apps. When you have a website that’s optimised for mobile, you can easily turn it into an app. This means you don’t need to build separate apps for iOS and Android anymore.
Since your app is technically just a website, people can simply find it through Google. If you want someone to install it, just give them the URL, no more need to go through the app store submission process.
This also means that you no longer need to get your users to install updates. When there’s a new version of your app, you just deploy it to your webserver and the next time users visit, they will automatically get the new version.
Benefits of having a PWA for your online business
- Improved user experience – As discussed in the above lines, PWAs work on an “App shell” design and deliver a faster user interface. This improves the overall user experience and gives a feel similar to using a native application.
- Optimized engagement –. Developers take the push notifications functionality and integrate it into PWAs. By offering real-time and personalized push notifications, you can engage with your customers better.
- Wider audience – The fact of the matter is that PWAs are platform-independent. This means it uses a web browser’s resources, increasing PWA’s reach into the target audience. Also, they are lean and can run on legacy devices without the need for backward compatibility.
- Time and money efficiency – One of the biggest issues with a mobile-first strategy is that you have to support multiple platforms and a myriad of devices. This is a time-consuming process and also drains your financial resources. However, by launching a PWA, you can easily support all the platforms using a standalone app. Additionally, you can also add new features without worrying about compatibility issues.