Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are becoming more prevalent as the tech world continues to invest in them.
This growing support for PWAs is being driven by demands from leading brands looking to make the most of their capabilities. Top brands shifting to progressive web apps are the likes of Facebook and Pinterest, Twitter recently invested heavily in making its main site a responsive Progressive web app to create a faster user experience with an enhanced interface.
PWAs are web apps developed using specific technologies and standard patterns to help them take advantage of both web and native app features. Web apps are easily discoverable than native apps. And it’s a lot easier and faster to visit a website than to install an application, also share web apps via a link.
Similarly, media powerhouses such as the BBC, The Washington Post, and Forbes, also have debuted PWAs to deliver their content more seamlessly across users and various device types, from desktops to mobile phones.
Why Top Brands Shifting To Progressive Web Apps?
Problems with Native Apps
While installing any Android/iOS apps we go through these problems :
- Is this app worth downloading?
- Do I have enough space?
- My available data is not sufficient.
One recent survey shows that people are turning away from Android/iOS apps, because not all app experiences are satisfying or worthwhile. Some people simply don’t want any more apps on their phone, some even hesitate to download any app.
If you take a look at the apps installed on your mobile right now there might be at least a dozen apps that you do not use regularly. Sometimes apps only works good when the phone has an active internet connection.
The irony is that most of the apps have a fully responsive website performing the same functions.
So why waste your precious disk space and your internet data on your smartphone by installing the native app? The average size of apps that we install from play store/app stores would range from 30–200MB. Moreover, these app needs to updated every week! But Progressive Web Apps are within some KBs and are automatically updated.
What A Progressive Web App Should Fulfil
There are some key principles a web app should fulfil as a PWA. They are:
- Being Discoverable, so the contents can be searched through search engines.
- Be Installable, so that it is available on a device’s home screen.
- Linkable, so that it can be shared via a link (URL).
- Network Independent, so that the app works offline or with a poor network.
- Progressively Enhanced, so it’s usable on a basic level on older browsers and fully-functional on the latest ones.
- Engageable, so that it can send notifications whenever there’s new content.
- Responsively Designed, so that it can be used on any device (with a screen and a browser)—mobile phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, refrigerators, etc.
- Secure, so that the connections between the user, the app, and your server are secured against any third parties trying to access sensitive data.
So why are top brands making the switch to Progressive Web Apps?
Rising consumer expectations: Consumers have little patience for brands that deliver mediocre digital experiences. With an abundance of options at their fingertips, customers can quickly move on to another company if they experience underwhelming brand interactions. Both Pinterest and Starbucks saw a notable lift in engagement metrics when they launched PWAs.
Pinterest had a 60% jump in mobile engagement with faster page loads, while Starbucks’ PWA was built to manage ordering over the web and is now favored among customers over the coffee company’s native app.
Native action in the web browser:
PWAs offer a consistent and responsive experience across all devices.
They load like a typical website but with several advanced capabilities of native mobile apps, including the ability to be added to device home screens with one touch, to work offline, and to enable push notifications.
They also offer advantages of websites, such as discoverability by search engines and the ability to be accessible from all modern web browsers.
PWAs can appear alongside native mobile apps in the App Store and Google Play.
Reduced resources and spending through simplified coding:
PWAs require only one code base to deliver a website and mobile app-like experience across devices and browsers.
This means planning for, designing, developing, and maintaining both a website and mobile app-like experience requires only one team, one tech stack, one test strategy, and one digital product roadmap.
PWAs not only minimize product strategy, design, development, and maintenance costs, they also save organizations money by enabling faster deployment of new features and bug fixes.
Advantages of web applications
A complete progressive web application should provide the following advantages:
The eventual aim is PWAs should have better representation in search engines, be easier to search, catalog and rank, and have usable metadata for browsers to give them special capabilities.
Users should find it easy to access PWAs. The web app experience for users is to have app icons on their home screen, so that they can tap it to open apps into their own native container.
PWAs can have this native app feel via properties set inside the Web app manifest, and via a feature in modern smartphone browsers called web app installation.
One powerful feature of the web is its ability to link to an app with a specific URL without an app store or complex installation process. This is how it happens.
PWAs can work when the network is not reliable, or not existent. The idea behind network independence is to:
- Revisit a site and get its contents when there’s not network.
- Browse content the user has previously visited even when there’s poor connectivity.
- Control what is shown when there is no connectivity.
This is made possible by: Service Workers to control page requests by storing them offline, the Cache API for storing responses to network such requests offline, and client-side data storage technologies to store application data offline.
Progressive enhancement support
PWAs can provide excellent experience to capable browsers, and an acceptable experience to the rest. PWAs are cross-browser, therefore developers should take into account the differences in implementation of some features and technologies between various browser implementations.
Native apps have one major advantage for the ease with which users can be re-engaged by updates and new content, even though they may not be using the app / device. Now PWAs can now do this too, using new technologies such as Service Workers for controlling pages, the Web Push API for updates from server to app via service worker and notification API for system notifications to help engage users even when not using their web browser.
Responsive PWAs use technologies like media queries and viewport to ensure that UIs will fit in a desktop, mobile, tablet.
The web platform provides a secure delivery mechanism that prevents loss while ensuring content hasn’t been tampered. Or then take advantage of HTTPS and develop your apps with security.
PWAs can be installed using the right URL. With native apps, there could be confusion. PWAs eliminate that confusion.
PWAs don’t depend on a single API, but on various technologies to deliver the best web experience possible.
PWAs require service worker support and receive it too thankfully on all major browsers on desktop and mobile. Features such as Web App Manifest, Push Notifications, and Add to Home Screen functionality have support. Safari has limited support for PWA Manifest and Add to Home Screen and no support for web push notifications.
Above all use technologies that enhance its appearance and utility when they’re available and offer the basic functionality. A trusted website with good performance is due to such enhancements. Thus everyone will be able to use the app and modern browsers will benefit from PWA features.
Desire to build today for tomorrow’s innovations:
Innovative brands recognise that technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and to avoid rapid cycles of strategy, design, development, and re-build for digital solutions, they need to deploy more future-forward technologies.
Top brands shifting to progressive web apps is not surprising as progressive Web Apps are inherently flexible and constantly evolving to meet the latest device and technology feature enhancements.
If you rewrite a legacy website or native mobile application as a PWA today, it will work as intended for years to come.
PWAs are built for change, meaning organisations can stop investing in one-off websites and mobile apps that will inevitably require redesigns to meet changing audience demands and technologies.
As such, native apps are better integrated with the OS and therefore it offers a better seamless experience for users. A native app can be installed easily so that it works offline, and users would love to easily access their favourite apps, rather than navigate using a browser.
With the continued emergence of PWAs, more consumers will simultaneously reap the rewards of applications that continually adapt to meet evolving customer needs and expectations.