Mobile fever affects everyone, and online shops are no exception. Every brand needs to have a mobile presence nowadays. This is how it can be done:
- A responsive web design, which entails adjusting website content to fit the size of mobile and tablet devices;
- A native mobile application, which can be expensive, but it is developed specifically for smartphones;
- A progressive web app (PWA) combining elements from the web and native apps.
Progressive Web App (PWA) is a set of technologies allowing you to install a website on a device as an application. This means you don’t need to develop iOS and Android apps together with the website. Apart from that, PWAs are not so hard to develop: for instance, your team can do so by customizing ready-made themes like Magento 2 PWA studio.
PWAs are used more widely than you may imagine. It’s used for eCommerce, education projects, travel companies, streaming services, and others. The major brands, like Agent Provocateur, UK Meds, Alibaba, and Eleganza, use PWA applications as a basis or in addition to their mobile applications.
Progressive Web App (PWA) Architecture
Most of the websites have a monolithic architecture. It means that its front end is generated on the backend. And when a user requests a web page, the server produces an HTML page by retrieving user-specific information and sending it over the internet to the user’s device. When the user opens another page on the website, the process repeats.
As a result, PWA receives its best qualities, like good UX, high speed, responsiveness, etc. Here are the key elements of PWA.
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Scripts known as “service workers” operate in the browser’s background. They operate without a web page and have great features like handling notifications and managing network requests. So far, it has supported functions like caching, background sync, offline mode, and push notifications.
Web App Manifest
The Web-App manifest is the element in charge of how the PWA looks on desktop and mobile platforms. With its help, it’s possible to control how PWAs are shown to all users. A web browser examines the manifest file when it first connects to a network, downloads the resources, and stores them locally. The web app can be used without an internet connection using the browser’s local cache.
The cache storage approach eliminates the need to repeatedly get data from the source. This is accomplished by temporarily storing the data in a third-party data center or on a user’s device. Instead of obtaining it from the source, it may be loaded from the cache.
You may implement a variety of caching techniques in your PWA. Caching whole assets is the most typical one. This implies that both static and dynamic content is included in the cache.
Caching partial assets is another tactic. Using this method, you can only cache certain materials, such as scripts or photos. This may be effective for pages where most of the content is dynamic.
Progressive Web App (PWA) Benefits
According to Statista, in 2021, about 75% of the global retail sales in eCommerce were made through mobile channels. In 2017 the figures and predictions for the future looked like this:
The number of mobile device users is steeply growing, so the introduction of PWA is becoming more critical than ever. Here are some of the features of PWA sites that are worth paying attention to.
Image source: Statista.
PWA uses background service workers to do labor-intensive tasks, which results in a better loading time. These scripts operate independently of the web page and prefetch all the information required to maintain quick and smooth navigation. Additionally, since the scripts are not active on the page, they have no impact on how quickly the page loads. Navigation across the app becomes virtually quick once the data has been cached.
Higher visibility is provided by the “add to home screen” option. Customers can find the app with just one click and select the product with no distractions. And if they put the product in the cart, you can later encourage them to buy it by sending notifications about discounts or special offers.
PWAs behave like websites and have a design similar to the native app. Additionally, PWAs and native applications both have a comparable impact on the user experience and share many features, such as database access and automatic data.
PWAs are capable of operating everywhere. For those who tend to switch between different devices, cross-support is available everywhere. When it comes to businesses that rely on PWAs, it is crucial to provide the employees with software that performs at its best, whether it is a platform or an app version.
Lower Development Cost
One of the prominent features of PWA is offline navigation. If your connection fails, you will not lose access to crucial data and services.
PWA makes it possible to navigate the app offline by caching and saving some of the data seen in the app. It also enhances performance by dealing with cached resources and enabling push notifications, even offline.
No Need to Place the App in the App Stores
Releasing your application in the app stores is associated with the additional expense for the project. Some stores charge a payment even before the release and require the project to go through a tedious publication and certification procedure. This strategy increases prices and lengthens your average market time, which may occasionally lead to your missing out on promotional holidays or issuing untested releases in order to meet a deadline.
With PWA, you can avoid the whole app store problem, though. PWAs are practical for both customers and companies since they allow customers to use your app and receive updates without downloading it or waiting for a new verification round.
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Progressive Web App (PWA) Drawbacks
When choosing what kind of mobile app to introduce for your business, consider that since the technology is relatively new, there are some faults that you should consider.
Insufficient iOS Compatibility
Not all PWA features are supported by iOS. Compared to Android, support for service workers is very limited. You can only save application data and cache its files (no background tasks). The storage has a limit of 50Mb. Due to this, many users’ access to PWAs is restricted. There are also limitations to using some built-in functions like Siri, In-App Payments, etc. A user experience in PWA loses compared to the UX offered by native apps. Which is a genuine loss in a world where UX is at least as important as marketing.
Not all of the device’s features can be used. For instance, you cannot access contacts, calendars, or Bluetooth. A native app is frequently preferable to a PWA when your application has to extensively utilize a device’s hardware. For instance, Bluetooth-based solutions, like file shares or Bluetooth messengers, are typically developed natively.
Increased Battery Consumption
The fact that they are encrypted in complicated codes makes it more difficult for phones to decode them. As a result, PWAs use more battery than native applications.
How Does the Installation Process Work?
Let’s see how the installation process works on an example of Lancome.com
- A user opens a website in a browser on their mobile device.
- The user sees a pop-up with an offer. For example, “Add the app to the home screen.”
- The user installs the application with one click.
- The user taps on an icon, and the website opens.
Image source: Lancôme.
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What Results Can You Expect?
Progressive Web Apps produce excellent outcomes for businesses that launch them. For example, according to web.dev, after reducing the size of their app by nearly 97 percent, Twitter saw a 65 percent increase in page views per session, 75 percent more Tweets, and a 20 percent drop in bounce rate. It also had 2.3 times more organic traffic, 58 percent more subscribers, and 49 percent more daily active users after converting to a PWA. Hulu saw a 27 percent boost in repeat visitors with the introduction of a Progressive Web App in addition to their platform-specific desktop experience.
With progressive web apps, you have a unique chance to offer a fantastic web experience to your users. PWAs use the newest web technologies to let what you make be used by anyone, on any device, with a single codebase.
This article is written by Alex Husar. Alex is a chief technology officer at a company providing progressive web app development services. Working at the company for almost a decade, Alex has gained proficiency in web development, creating progressive web apps (PWAs), and team management. Alex constantly deepens his knowledge in various technological areas and shares it in his articles. He helps programmers overcome common challenges and stay updated with the latest web development trends. You can follow him on LinkedIn.