Should I consider a Progressive Web App?

By 22nd February 2019 No Comments

What is a Progressive Web App?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is meant to replicate the mobile native app experience to users in their browsers. They are an excellent alternative to a native app if you have a smaller budget but want to provide your customers with a great experience. PWA’s allow users to receive push notifications without having to be downloaded onto the users device. However, a PWA isn’t just a substitute for a native app if you are lacking budget. A PWA has many positive attributes.

PWA's aren't tied to app store requirements

A PWA doesn’t have to be submitted to the App or Google Play store. This means that users don’t have to search through the store to find your app. They can simply just type in your URL and find your page. It also means you don’t have to pay fees for your PWA to go live. Meaning, you will have more creativity and freedom as you don’t have to stick to the app store submission requirements. Something that can mean lots of trial and error and multiple submissions until your app is accepted.

No downloading required

One of the reasons customers may prefer a PWA is the fact that they don’t have to download the app onto their device to be able to use it. Native apps can take up a lot of hardware and memory space for a user and if the PWA provides a near seamless experience without using up space on their device then it’s a definitely a plus point. In order to make web apps more like native apps, it’s essential to make sure that web app is installable in some way, hence the ability to download the PWA to your home screen.

Speedy performance

Compared to a traditional website and even compared to a native app, a PWA’s loading speed is far quicker. This is thanks to a component called Service workers. A Javascript file that runs in the background and enables offline experiences for the user if an internet connection isn’t available. Service workers allow you to load cache in the background and are also responsible for allowing push notifications and background API’s.

Javascript is used to develop PWA’s 

Offline experience

PWA’s can work partially offline. Therefore, lots of e-commerce sites have turned to PWA’s. If a website has a catalogue but the user has no internet connection, as long as the page was loaded at a time where there was a connection, the user can still browse the page. Meaning the user doesn’t have to reload the page to browse items.

PWA's are more affordable

Despite offering a near native experience, the cost to build a PWA is a lot less compared to that to develop a native app. This is because they work on multiple platforms. Unlike native apps that must be developed separately for Android and iOS.

Application Shell

Another component of a PWA is the application shell. The application shell is responsible for the apps amazing user interface. It provides the interactions within the app to make it like that of a native app. An application shell is not essential when building a PWA but it can mean faster loading speeds and better performance, which ultimately means happier users!

Lancome’s impressive PWA interface. 

One PWA fits all...

Another benefit of a PWA is that it fits all devices. Not restricted to just Android or iOS. Or a certain software. PWA’s can be viewed on any device. This can mean a vaster audience and user base due to there being no restrictions.

PWA’s overall are a decent alternative. In an age where more people are browsing from mobile devices, we have different expectations for websites nowadays. They not only provide information, they are a platform for everything from banking to shopping. PWA’s are a glimpse of what we can expect from the apps of the future. Of course, native apps are still superior in many ways but a PWA is certainly a good alternative if you are on budget and want something that almost replicates the native experience.