Progressive Web Apps

Let’s find out what PWA is and why they are useful for business.

Imagine that your site interacts with a user as an application. That is, the user can install it on any device, receive notifications and work with it even without an Internet connection. This is a real technology, which is actively promoted by Google, and this post will study it in detail.

Google announced Progressive Web Apps (PWA) as early as 2015. This format of creating mobile sites attracted attention due to the relatively simple development and almost instantaneous interaction with the user. Already in May 2016 at the Google I/O developers conference The Washington Post showed its mobile hybrid site-application.

So what is PWA? You can perceive this as a site developed using web technologies, but which interacts with the user as an application. Advancements in the development of browsers, cache and push-interfaces allowed the installation of the application on the home screen directly from the browser, receiving pop-up notifications and even working offline.

The Difference Between PWA and Native Applications

  1.   In browsers Chrome, Opera, Firefox and IE PWA can be downloaded on any devices, regardless of the screen size and other specifications. In addition, the developers of these browsers will offer users to install PWA at the second visit of the site.
  2.   Application developers note that creating a progressive app is easier and faster than a usual site.
  3.   Here there is no need for APIs with backward compatibility support. Working with PWA, users run the same version of the site code (unlike when they work with traditional apps).

And this is just the beginning. Microsoft has  already been working on adding progressive web apps to the Windows Store. In May 2016, Google presented a long list of ideas for further development of progressive apps. Besides, it seems that in future search engines will be inevitably focused on PWA more and more.

Why Should Business Be Interested in Creating PWA and Why Is It High Time To Start Right Now?

Let’s start with the second question. Internet Media Recode published a survey proving what many experts had felt like saying for a long time: the boom for traditional applications is over, and the number of the users uninstalling them continues to grow.

Comscore has informed recently that the download of applications by most of smartphone users had been reduced to zero per month. Only about one third of smartphone owners care to download at least something, mostly from one to three applications per month.

Number of app downloads per month in the USA by June 2017

Why Will Progressive Web Apps Change The Situation?

  1.   Users can start working with progressive apps following links in social networks, when browsing the web pages or using directly the Put function. It is surely much more comfortable than staying in a permanent competition for the number of views with two million of available apps on iOS App or Google Play Store.
  2.   A user is recommended to install a PWA only when the web application meets certain criteria, and they have shown they are interested in coming back to the site again.
  3.   The application is installed instantly. All the slow to download components are installed in the cache when the user visits the site for the first time.
  4.   Progressive apps are much smaller in size, as they use browser features way more efficiently.
  5.   Pop-up notifications, offline work and all the other functions of the progressive app will be active even if the visitor has never installed it.
  6.  Ordinary applications can only be used on the platform, which they are created for. You can not use the app on your PC as well as on the Android or iOS device. Besides, the app can be used only by those who installed it.

You can object that there exist traditional applications supported by different platforms. But providing support for this kind of apps is quite expensive. Progressive Web Apps can reduce your expenses, providing a single application appropriate for any platform.

  1.   If you are not in app stores, then you are not limited by their rules and do not have to pay 30% of sales.

Disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps

  1. PWA are a new technology, so there are quite a few examples helping to understand how successfully the format is implemented. Dare do it, be a path breaker.
  2. At the moment when Google presented Progressive Web Apps they were not yet fully available. Yes, Chrome and Opera began supporting PWA. Firefox and Microsoft committed to support them as well. As for Apple, it has started to support the format just recently.

However, none of these reasons is substantial enough to hamper the testing of PWA as a format right now.

Why Exactly the PWA Format Is Progressive?

Being progressive in this case means that an app with limited functionality can work on any device, at any place but when the user starts working with a more advanced device or browser, the functions of PWA are expanded. In addition, there is no need to download them repeatedly on each of the devices.

Google has published case studies of companies having implemented Progressive Web Apps.

  1.   After the implementation of a Progressive Web App, AliExpress increased conversions from iOS devices by 82% whereas the conversion coefficient for new users was increased by 104%.
  2.   United eXtra Electronics showed a fourfold increase in users coming back to visit the site again and increased the level of sales resulting from the interaction of users with pop-up notifications by 100%.
  3.   5miles reduced the bounce rate by 50% and increased conversions by 30%.
  4.   Konga uses 92% less of initial download data as compared to downloads of their native application.
  5.   The Washington Post created a Progressive Web App, installed in the background mode when people read their AMP pages in Google search results. Consequently, the number of visits related to these articles increased by 12%. If in 2013 it took 8 seconds to load an article, now owing to the Progressive Web App, it is loaded within 80 milliseconds.

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