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Progressive Web Apps: The Future of Mobile App Design

Omji Mehrotra By Omji Mehrotra | August 13, 2019
Progressive Web Apps

The main reason why companies opt for native applications is that the majority of the audience is over smartphones now instead of laptops or desktop. This leads to develop two platforms such as Android and iOS & maintain two separate codes. However, it is extremely time-taking that makes companies wonder for an easier alternative. This makes developers go for progressive web apps without thinking much. 

Idea Behind PWAs

Before moving further, let us know what made Google develop such a platform. 

Google did a deep research while comparing the features of around a hundred applications to grasp an idea on user engagement. The motive is to understand user behavior as per the application used by them. Surprisingly, the result shows a drastic demographical change with the native app reach below mobile web reach.

It was noted that the mobile web has 11.4 million unique visitors monthly which is 8 million more than Native apps. On average, the user tends to spend around 188.6 minutes on a mobile web application which is only 9.3 minutes at native application. 

This was a great discovery that made Google come up with an idea that can bring the audience to the mobile web with enhanced user engagement. Hence, the development of PWAs to offer a great experience to developers and users. 

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Why Progressive Web Apps?

The maximum website traffic is now on the applications allowing users to access the content anytime. Nevertheless, the devices and connection quality has a huge effect on the application. The usability of web applications has become a major concern due to outdated phones in some region and the lightning-fast connection is another. In such a situation, PWA is a great alternative for users to attract the target audience. 

Let’s start with a question – “how to target desktop users and mobile users at the same time without maintaining and developing a mobile app for both the platform(Android and iOS) while also concerned about responsive websites. 

To crack this question, businesses have three choices for targeting a large number of audiences- build a responsive website, develop a native application or go ahead with PWAs( Progressive Web Apps). Choosing the last option can provide you dual advantages.

Why?

Because PWAs are quite famous in the app development community. A few years back, developers were required to develop separate apps for desktop as well as for mobile devices. But with the passage of time and advancement in technology, the situation has been changed and responsive web design came into existence. 

However, what exactly PWA is a general question that is asked by several users and companies. Let us give you a brief understanding of PWA. 

What is PWA? And What are the Things You Should Know About It?

Introduced by Google back in 2015, PWA is the short form of Progressive Web Apps. 

Progressive Web Applications are the type of mobile app delivered with the help of the web. These apps are built using some common technologies like CSS, JavaScript, HTML.

According to Google Developer Advocate Pete LePage, the “Progressive” part can be explained as “as the user progressively builds a connection with the app over time, it becomes more strong and powerful”.

Do note that Progressive Web Apps are still websites, the difference lies in the feel and looks compared to web apps. PWAs look and feel like the basic application, this means that users can skim the apps on their browsers by using a URL. After landing on the PWA page, they will get the same mobile app-like experience right on their browser.

Look, feel and experience are the same with a bonus and that is- there is no need to download PWAs. So, no need to worry about the mobile space now.

Meanwhile, the label of “app” being attached to PWA does not mean it is limited to a mobile phone only, it can be implemented on the desktop as well.

Hence, Progressive Web Apps can support the following features like:

Progressive Web Apps Features

Giants Depending on Progressive Web Application Development Service

The performance is elevated in PWA that helps in enhancing user engagement and reach the audience. A few brands are showing the popularity and effectiveness of PWA in the market-

Twitter

PWA technology is adopted by Twitter resulting in a drastic increase in company and user engagement & it even saves a lot of data usage. On the global level, there are 328 million users that actively use social media platforms out of which maximum depends upon the mobile application. 

This promotes robust, minimum data consumption, faster loading time, user engagement, and reliable. Hence, it has increased business with around 75% of ratio with a 25% decrease in bounce rate.

Pinterest

It can be extremely difficult for the users to manage image sharing application if it is slow. This leads to getting only 1% of the unique users that download native apps, logins, and sign-ups. To overcome such a conversion rate, it is best to opt for PWAs. 

There was a lot of improvement in PWA Pinterest with just 3 months of development time. This increases 40% of the total time with 44% of user-generated revenue. 

OLX

It is a classified online platform that offers a platform for users to place ads in India. It is an online marketplace that bridges the gap between sellers and buyers for used services and goods. The PWA OLX application gives easy and fast support to the users in terms of the mobile web. On observing, there are notable improvements in terms of user engagement and unique traffic.

BookMyShow

With over 50 million visitors monthly, BookMyshow is the largest online platform that offers service to book tickets in India. The PWA has a boost of 80% of the total conversion rate and 30 seconds of checkout time. 

Forbes

A monumental name that is famous for the American business magazine, Forbes. However, the giant has gained a lot from the Progressive web apps in terms of user engagement. They can cater to the blogs and news as per the preference of users and send out push notifications accordingly. This has altered the user experience making it more pleasant and personalized. 

Alibaba

In terms of the B2B trading portal, Alibaba is a larger platform that serves several regions and countries. It offers an easy and quick solution for the user transaction with an app-like experience. It increases the conversion rate to 76%.

10 Amazing Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

Responsive

No doubt, PWAs are highly responsive. They adjust automatically as per the device layout. No matter, if you are carrying a tablet, mobile, desktop or laptop, PWAs will fit every device flawlessly.

Reliable

When the network is bad, PWAs win the race by being accessible offline too through a service worker. 

There is one thing common between Native apps and PWAs and that is the look and feel. While using the application, users will not be able to figure out key differences between Progressive Web Apps and native apps.

PWAs exactly feel and look like a native app along with providing similar features like integration with the system, push notification, display icon on the home screen and many more.

Easy Installation

It is such a pain to install the bulky applications from the app store but with PWA, the user can install the app with just one tap.

LightWeight

Even after carrying loads of features and functionality, PWAs are extremely lightweight as compared to native applications. 

For example, Pinterest’s PWA is just 150KB compared to its Android and iOS app weighing around 9.6MB and 56MB respectively.

Easy Updates

As the app store is not the mediator, Progressive Web Apps can get updates more frequently and smoothly. This means users can enjoy the updated apps as soon as you update them.

Work Evenly

As compared to regular applications that are very demanding on operating systems and the technical capabilities of various devices, PWAs work flawlessly everywhere.

Various consumers can get a uniform user experience with a single PWA on different endpoints. 

Secure

When it comes to security then there were many aspects missed out in traditional web apps development. This is due to the use of HTTPs that makes it easy to find loopholes that can be hacked easily. Whereas, the application can offer a good level of security that is difficult to vandalize. This can be easily achieved via the PWAs platform. 

Push Notifications

Similar to native mobile applications, PWAs also have access to device-specific functionality like push notifications.

With the help of easy push notifications, companies can advertise their product way more easily and efficiently. This feature has a great impact on users allowing companies to stay abreast of upcoming advancement and addition. 

Strengthening Security

PWAs rely on HTTPS for providing data safety while minimizing the risk of security issues. 

Improved Performance

Compared to the advantages of Web application and native apps, PWAs work significantly faster due to underlying technology caches and serves text, images, stylesheets and other content available on the website.

What are Progressive Web App Features?

To understand PWA all the more, there are components which when together combines defines PWA-

Three Components Of PWA

Manifest

In PWAs, the web manifest comes up with a JSON file that provides you and the developer a centralized place to put all the information about the app. The JSON file includes PWA name, its icon, information, description among other things.

Service Workers

Service Workers brings the best of both web and mobile to progressive web apps future. Service Workers lies between the device and the network and supplies content by managing HTTP requests programmatically. 

They manage intelligent and reliable caching along with maintaining background sync and push notifications while enabling offline browsing of previously visited sites. 

Application Shell Architecture

App Shell is an architectural approach that is used for quick loading.

Technically, it is a caching mechanism in which the UI is stored as a static frame, the frame on which the content can be progressively loaded. The whole process makes the users engage with the application despite varying degrees of web connectivity.  

How PWA is Better than Native Application Development?

As it is all about PWA, it is the right time to see how PWAs are better than Native applications-

Cross-Platform

Since PWA is browser-based and not OS-based, the former can be accessed via any mobile platform be it iOS, Android or Windows.

Up-to-Date

When there is a comparison between Progressive Web Apps vs native, updates and changes that are made to PWA will take effect immediately compared to native apps.

Index

No matter how amazing PWAs are, they are still be called web apps. And this is the reason, their content can be indexed and discoverable on search engines like Google opening great opportunities for SEO.

Low Development Cost

One of the most interesting things about PWAs is that the apps do not require different versions for various devices. 

A single Progressive app is enough to meet the requirements of all the endpoints on which it operates. Apart from that, it also reduces the efforts made by the developers along with reducing the cost to create a PWA. Carry forwarding more about PWAs, let us check out the tools and frameworks required for PWAs-

Tools and Framework for Progressive Web Apps

AngularJS

AngularJS is the most popular, robust, cutting edge and transformative JavaScript framework for developing PWAs on the client-side. Angular makes it easy for developers to bring in various functionalities to both web and mobile apps.

ReactJS

Maintained by Facebook and other independent developers and organizations, ReactJS is a JavaScript library that you use for creating UI for PWAs and for rendering its UI components.

Ionic

This open-source hybrid tool helps developers manipulate the code structure to come up with various features and improvisations to the PWA they wish to create. 

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

With AMPs, the pages render very quickly, and this makes it incredibly fast and seamless user experience. With a PWA, the starting trouble is significant, and their first load is challenged by the Service Worker, which is chugging along on the side to ensure that the content is downloaded from the cache. 

These are some of the top frameworks for building your Progressive Web Apps and tools required. However, there are many others on the list for developing PWAs. 

Hence before going ahead with developing PWAs for your business, make sure you are done with the above-mentioned points to understand why PWAs are the future of Web and app development.

How to Build a Progressive Web App?

build a progressive web app

It is easy to build a PWA to have a strong performance and presence in the market.

  • HTTPS Server – To offer security to the users, SSL adds a layer that is an ideal way to proceed with web mobile application. HTTPS allows home screen installation and services workers usage in PWA. SSL certificate can be easily purchased from the domain registrar to configure via hosting service.
  • Application Shell – It is the first means of interaction for your user which makes it easy when the HTML document index is involved. In addition to this, CSS is inline to promote secure and faster loading. 
  • Service Worker – A service worker is required to work on a different spectrum of PWA including install, catching, and push notification. It is easy to set up a service worker with the registration as a service-worker.js which can be blank as well. 
  • Push Notifications – It is easy to send out a push notification with a service worker with a web Push API. Just tap self.registration.pushManager and it will allow you to access it. However, the backend setup will decide the whole push notifications.
  • Web App Manifest – The manifest.json works well when it comes to making an application installable. To understand it in a better way, consider it as something that is submitted while launching the application on the App Store. It is a description that includes a name, splash screen, and icons. 
  • Install Prompt – Chrome will prompt the users to add the application to the home screen on opening the application. The Manifest and service worker sends out the command automatically. However, it depends on the condition that a user must have visited the application at least two times with a gap of five minutes.
  • App Performance – For any PWA application, it is vital to keep the performance in mind. It is essential to ensure that application is as per the user network connection and can load fast. However, even if the user has a different browser than a specific one then also the service worker must be able to establish a connection. 
  • Lighthouse Audit Application – There is no doubt that PWA is slowly becoming the future of the web that has altered the way applications were developed. The “Audits” can be done with the help of Lighthouse that helps in the success and response of an application. However, PWA guidelines must be maintained while working on auditing the website. 

Why Progressive Web Apps are the Future of Web Development?

Attending everything, it seems the Progressive Web App’s future is glorious in the app development industry without any doubt. In the future, e-commerce sites, restaurants, and media sources will shift from native app to Progressive Web App. 

PWA has overcome issues such as searchability and visibility that are a major concern in native application development. With time, the customers are going to get accustomed to search and boosting growth. This is going to increase the online user experience with the involvement of the app store and online search. Meanwhile, if you are still confused about What are Progressive Web Applications and Why build a PWA, we will guide you. Get in touch with us today!

FAQ

What is Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Applications are the type of mobile app delivered with the help of the web. These apps are built using some common technologies including CSS, JavaScript, HTML, etc that can work on platforms based on the standards-compliant browser.

Is Progressive Web App the future?

Yes, PWAs have the potential to become the future of app development industry due to many reasons like-
1. They are Responsive
2. They are Reliable
3. They work like Native Apps
4. They are easy to install
5. They carry less weight
6. Updates can be made easily
7. They work evenly
8. Push notifications
9. They strengthen security
10.Improved performance

Will Progressive Web Apps replace Native Apps?

Native apps carry their importance and functionality. On the other hand, PWAs are carrying great potential to overpower Native apps. However, it might be somewhere in the future where the Native app will be completed replaced by PWA but as for now, the possibility is 40%. Many industries prefer Native application development over PWA, so, it can be a long way down the road. However, it won’t be for everyone since many developers still prefer Native over PWA.

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Omji Mehrotra
Omji Mehrotra

Co-Founder and AVP Technology at Appventurez. An accomplished Android and React Native developer who is a fan of clean and optimized code, he is a passionate team builder having smart project managerial skills and has a deep love to provide end to end solution.

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