In today’s dynamic world, change is the only thing that is static. And that is what holds true for every business venture too. Businesses relying exclusively on native apps are likely to meet a catastrophic end soon. Even Gartner, one of the leading research houses, proclaimed that 9,999 in 10,000 apps will fail by 2018, yet apps continue to be a common development goal for all new businesses!
Thus it becomes extremely crucial for businesses to look for a novel app development approach.
Even the attention span of humans has dropped to as low as 8 seconds, further necessitating businesses to deploy applications that can grab the attention of their potential users with the flip of a second.
Innovation is the key to create such amazing experiences and the Progressive Web App (PWA) is one such approach that can do wonders here. We have already talked about Progressive web apps in one of our previous blogs, but let’s look deeper now on how they are truly the future of web development.
What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?
“Web vs Mobile App or Native Mobile App vs Mobile Web” – is a question that is haunting almost every budding entrepreneur’s mind!
Indeed, there are plenty of options today in the market to attract potential users. However, to play a balanced game, Progressive Web Apps is one of the most ideal choices – providing fast, secure, native-like apps – just the perfect tech solution for most new businesses.
But what actually defines a PWA? Google has defined three main areas that are the must-haves of a Progressive Web App: reliability, speed, and engagement. Google further states that Progressive Web Apps are the ones that “load instantly, regardless of the network state”, “respond quickly to user interactions”, “live on the user’s home screen”, and “offer an immersive full-screen experience”.
Let’s now look in detail into the core features of progressive web apps that truly describe them:
The Core Features of Progressive Web Applications
It is easy to differentiate a traditional web application from a Progressive Web Application when you know the core features of the PWA. To start off, for a web application to be considered a PWA, it needs to have these core features:
1. Access to Mobile APIs
Traditional web applications run in some form of isolation, in the browser. Hence, they are not allowed access to the devices’ APIs. Progressive Web Applications, on the other hand, have access to some of the device’s core functionalities. Hence, such apps are not isolated anymore from the rest of the device making them more actionable.
A web application with access to functionalities such as the Camera, GPS, Bluetooth makes it possible to solve more (tougher) problems through web applications.
2. Connectivity Independent
For a web application to be considered as a PWA, the users should be able to access it without any internet access. With traditional web applications, an attempt to access will have the browser’s error page popup. But for Progressive Web Applications, the app will still work though it’ll be with minimal functionality.
Since PWAs are connectivity independent, it makes it easier for users to continue using the app even when internet connectivity suddenly cuts off during usage.
3. Mobile-App Like
When you see someone using a Progressive Web Application, you will be unable to tell that it’s not an actual mobile application.
PWAs are responsive and fit all screens, no matter the size. They also have app-style navigation, interaction and the native mobile application interface. PWAs support the use of push notifications to the users, just like it is with mobile applications.
Despite being a web application, PWAs can work for users regardless of their browser choice. Hence, you do not have to be bothered about the default browser running on the user’s device.
A Progressive Web Application is installable on a user’s device.
Users are able to add the icon of a PWA to their app drawer without having to go through the struggle of installing from the Playstore or Apple Store. PWAs, thus install just like regular applications but comparatively consume very little storage space on the device.
Since PWAs are like web applications with huge mobile app similarities, SEO may become a concern. The issue with SEO is seen with Single Page Applications (SPAs), which are similar to PWAs.
However, this is not the case with PWAs. PWAs are very much discoverable on search engines and perform as good as traditional web applications.
Technologies used by PWAs
Many technologies go into the making of Progressive Web Applications, ingraining a uniqueness and a seamless experience throughout the application, instinctively differentiating them from the traditional web applications and even the Single Page Applications.
Progressive Web Applications make use of the following key technologies:
- Manifest: The Manifest allows PWAs to have a metadata configuration, default orientation, display mode, icons and all kinds of necessary application configurations.
- Service Worker: Service Workers allow PWAs to work without internet connectivity. The Service Worker makes it possible to handle cache and provide a pleasant offline experience.
- Web Storage: The Web Storage allows the applications to manage browser sessions since PWAs are not directly opened through browsers.
- Database Libraries: Mobile applications make use of certain database libraries. PWAs also need the means to store data. With the help of non-relational databases like PouchDB, RxDB, PWAs can store data efficiently.
The Imperative Benefits of Progressive Web Applications for Startups
Every startup, in today’s digitized era, requires a software, a website, and a compatible native app to support its operations. However, to get everything in the line is a cumbersome task that demands additional high expenditure to develop, deploy, and maintain each of these individually.
On the other hand, PWAs are simple: they take less time to develop, less time to deploy and are less costly in terms of maintenance. They do not just save investment, but also save crucial turnaround time, which is an important factor in the success of any new business.
1.Fast & Swift
Progressive Web Applications come with an intuitive sleekness and a seamless experience that you’ll probably never get from native mobile applications. Unlike many web applications that may lag due to reasons like slow internet speed or heavy dependencies, etc.; PWAs are usually very swift.
You shouldn’t forget that PWAs are web applications, so they definitely need internet connectivity. However, the good part is that the lack of internet connectivity won’t break their performance. PWAs can work fine in slow internet speed conditions, giving them an upper hand over the traditional forms of web applications.
As Jake Archibald says, don’t treat a poor connection as an error — instead, treat the network as an enhancement.
PWAs allow you to engage the users continuously. While regular web applications may have a push notification, PWAs can keep users engaged through various other means like an immersive full-screen experience can re-engage users with web push notifications, and it also allows users to control how their app appears and how it’s launched.
4. Easy to Use
With Progressive Web Applications, users can click on the app icon from their app drawer instead of typing in a URL in the browser. Unlike native mobile applications, users can also install PWAs without visiting the app store.
5. Easy on Storage Space
In cases where a native mobile application may require 50 to 100MB of storage space on the user’s device, a PWA will require much less. In the current times, you will barely find a PWA consuming even 1MB of storage space on a user’s device.
Some of the Most Relevant Use Cases of PWAs
While PWAs are mighty web applications and a perfect blend of the mobile and the traditional web applications, it’s not wise to use them for every single web product idea.
Based on extensive research, it’s most ideal to use PWAs if your product idea falls under any of the following categories:
- Needs frequent engagement
- Needs device functionality
- Targets users with slow internet connectivity
- Needs to be discovered on search engines
While the cases given above are not all the use cases for which PWAs are a perfect fit, they are the general reasons you’d want to build a PWA for. Gartner predicts that the year 2020 will see PWAs replacing native mobile applications altogether. While this will only happen over a period of time, there are a lot of leading companies using PWAs already such as Twitter, Flipkart, Forbes.
- Twitter claims that the creation of a PWA leads to a 75% increase in tweets sent and a 65% increase in pages per session.
- Flipkart claims that their creation of a PWA lead to a 70% increase in conversions and leads to a three times decrease in data usage for their users.
- Forbes claims that their creation of a PWA lead to a whopping 250% increase in re-engagement and a 146% increase in Click-Through Rates (CTR) on advertisements.
A Progressive Web App is a perfect amalgamation of native mobile software and a web application that significantly improves user experience and increases the retention rates, ensuring higher conversions and thereby, greater profits.
However, customer acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and growth are not just the only factors that determine the value of a business. Enhanced security, low development costs, and platform-agnosticism are some other critical factors that are equally crucial in paving your way to success. Not to forget, probably this is one of the prime reasons why even big market players like Twitter, Forbes, and Uber have proactively deployed the PWAs.
Progressive web applications are indeed the future of web development, which is why considering switching to them is one of the most progressive business strategies that all modern-day startups should definitely look to deploy.