Have you ever seen a notification such as "Add to Home Screen" while scanning a website? The application is installed in the background when you press the button. What you have now is a web-based mobile app, which opens in the browser. All of that is achieved without any action on the AppStore. When you open this app, even if you are not connected to the Internet, you may browse the content. You have access to the offline web. This is Progressive Web Application (PWA).
Let's look deeper at PWA
The term PWA was first presented by Google back in 2015. It was created by Frances Berriman and Alex Russell. Quote from Alex's interview: "PWAs are simply websites that took all the best vitamins." The "progressive" component, according to Pete LePage - Developer Advocate, can be described as "the customer gradually constructs a connection with the app over time, so it comes to be frequently effective."
PWA's primary advantage is that it provides quicker and more efficient loading of the web applications. PWAs are websites that use recent web standards, which allow them to be installed on the user's computer or other device. It provides users with an app-like experience. If there is no Internet connection, it operates offline, using stored information during your last session. PWA enables reliable caching, background content updating, push notifications, it also uses geolocation, camera and swift offline functionality to prior visited sites. It means that the PWA will be consistently fast even on flaky networks after the first visit. It needs less than a few seconds to load and less than a few clicks to find and download relevant content. If it works not like that it will cost you a user.
PWA's approach is to focus on the user’s browser possibilities. It is gradually improving its built-in features to look like a native app, while not being it.
How PWA was already implemented
The Clutch Mobile App Report and Ericson Mobility Report shows that downloading native applications decreases every year (most smartphone users download 0 apps/month and 80% of apps are uninstalled within 1 week). People get more reluctant to mess their smartphones with unnecessary apps. That's why building a PWA can have substantial benefits, like improvement of user engagement and sales growth, especially after integrating push notifications.
Since less information is required to run the app, the number of active users often increases. Let's check the key facts and numbers about PWA effect as found by US Mobile App Report and Quettra:
The growth in mobile traffic was above 68%;
- A PWA loads and runs quicker than the native apps up to 15 times;
- A PWA needs 25 times less storage space;
- The jump of conversions reached 52%;
- The time spent on a website increased by nearly 80%;
- Engagement rises by an average of 137%;
- It takes about 2.75 seconds to load the screen;
- The bounce rate was reduced by more than 40%.
Twitter Lite, Alibaba, AliExpress, Forbes, Pinterest -- this is not the entire list of world-known companies that developed their PWAs. PWA has already proved to be a great decision for e-commerce and travel tech.
The Alibaba Group website, which was turned into a PWA several years ago, is a fantastic example. They decided to build a cross-browser PWA to blend their app's strengths with the web's wide reach. Results achieved by AliExpress:
- Traffic (Monthly): 666.50M by PWA;
- About 75% rise in the amount of time spent per session;
- twice more page visits per session;
- Growth of conversions to 104%.
Forbes. Not long ago, the top US business journal developed a PWA. It made the entire process smoother, and now Forbes can notify users about their new content all the time. It has also risen to:
- Traffic (Monthly): 123.6M,
- 100% rise in engagement rates,
- 43% rise in sessions per user,
- 20% more impressions per page,
- 6 times the number of users who finish reading the articles.
Pinterest. Pinterest results with PWA:
- Traffic (Monthly): 12.5M;
- 40% time spent on PWA version and +5% comparing web/native;
- 44% user-generated ads revenue on PWA and +2% comparing web/native;
- 50% ad clickthroughs on PWA;
- 60% core engagements on PWA.
What’s the main differentiation and advantages of PWA compared to native apps?
The main advantage so far of having a native app is that it will have full access to the tools and capacities of the smartphone. PWAs are mobile app-like websites, but not yet having access to all native device features.
PWAs look and feel much more like a native app compared to traditional mobile web applications. Nevertheless, compared to traditional native apps, users don't need to go to AppStore to use the app. PWAs are typically much smaller than native apps, and they load faster, work better on low-bandwidth networks, and take up less space on the computer or mobile device.
Here are some more differences between PWAs and native applications.
The great thing about PWAs is that they do not have limitations like native apps, which prescribe the ability to work with only one platform. PWAs should be free to work with most of the browsers that the client has.
A progressive ability is a factor that makes PWAs stand apart from the native apps. You need to ensure it can work with most of the browsers that are available on the market.
Undoubtedly, users will use their apps on their mobile phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, etc. Responsive design is a design where a website’s layout adjusts to meet the requirements of the device being used. Responsive design makes PWAs adjustable to most of devices.
PWA is able to run independently of the Internet connection. The Service Worker is in charge of caching data to provide uniterrupted user experience, when Internet is low.
No matter how far PWA goes beyond native applications, it is important to note that they still need to support an app-like design. This is one of the greatest distinctions between websites and PWA. There are a great deal of websites with a few basic pages containing static content such as contact information, blog posts, etc. Users can add this page to a device's home screen (by pressing the button "Add to HomeScreen") and can browse the website as if it were a native app.
5. Low Cost
Low development cost is another aspect that supports rapid creation of PWAs. If you create a PWA there are no multiple versions required for different platforms. PWA will operate on any device, resulting in a significant reduction in development costs.
6. Safe & Secure
PWAs have recognizable app experience without sacrificing performance or security as expected by consumers. One of the biggest Internet issues is security, especially when it comes to leaked, posted, or hacked data. PWAs will battle this issue. As they are delivered via HTTPs, it gives users and developers huge benefits.
What are the Challenges of PWA?
Having numerous advantages PWAs, however, still have certain difficulties.
1. Limited functionality.
PWA has limited access to GPS, NFC, fingerprint scanner, camera settings, and other technology.
2. Rapidly reduce battery life.
Using Progressive Apps uses the power of the device battery quicker than native apps.
3. Loss of Store traffic.
The PWAs are not circulated via the stores, resulting in loss of traffic that can be obtained from the App Store and Google Play.
4. iOS limitations.
Nowadays, there are some problems with using PWAs on Apple devices. For example, push notifications or shortcuts, which are available on Android.
5. Not automatically fast.
Rapid booting involves a sophisticated understanding of mobile web performance and careful execution of the required functionality.
To make the final thoughts it is necessary to ask why do we really need a PWA? Because it is:
Today, the PWAs are at the forefront of digital innovation, uniting different platforms, resources, and activities besides courting the consumers. Several brands have already used the potential and delivered the cutting-edge experience with PWAs. Being responsive to innovation, they have created fantastic results and we believe it is high time to join the leaders and use the advances in technology for your own benefit.