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What Is A Progressive Web App & Its Features

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Progressive Web Apps

Ever imagined a scenario where you don’t need to install an app from the play store for accessing an informational or shopping website? Progressive Web Apps help you achieve this by providing a seamless, app-like experience when you open a website on a mobile device.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps, commonly known as PWAs, are a set of technologies that can be used to make a website look and feel like a mobile application. The way PWAs are able to achieve this is by using APIs (application program interface) that use a combination of both web and native app features.

Websites that use PWAs function entirely like a mobile application that we install from the Play Store/App Store, thanks to their integration of service workers (used in native mobile apps).

So you don’t really have to install a mobile app the next time you want to do some window shopping! A breath of fresh air for your mobile storage, isn’t it?

What are the features of a PWA?

Here are the features that make a progressive web app better than a traditional web app:

  • The web apps built using PWAs are blazing fast. Google wants websites to have an FCP(First Contentful Paint) lesser than 1s. So it would make sense to integrate PWA’s to achieve this.
  • Just coding your website in a way that it looks and feels like an app isn’t enough. Some of the features that PWA’s provide to make your website engaging are: 
  • PWA’s take advantage of something known as Service Workers, which is one of the core functionalities of a native mobile app. A special thing about Service Workers is that they use pre-caching which enables the web app to load seamlessly without any dependencies on the network. This makes your progressive web app reliable by loading even on slow internet connections and 2G networks.

Why Progressive Web Apps (PWA)?

The most amazing thing about PWAs is that they give you the best of both worlds—the browser and the app. There is no debate about the flexibility and robustness of mobile apps. But let’s be realistic, users can’t be expected to install an app for every website that they visit on the Internet. To convince a customer to go through the stages of downloading your app, installing it and then using it to make a purchase, there has to be an established relationship of trust between you and your customer.

In the light of this, here’s an interesting statistic: at each of these various stages, a mobile app loses around 20% of its users.

Mobile App Statistics

Your best bet in such cases is to use a PWA. Users can engage with the PWA immediately without having to go through the additional steps of downloading and installing the app. 

Characteristics of PWA

  • Responsive

One of the most striking features of PWA is that they are responsive and can appear perfectly on any screen. A Web page created using PWA will automatically adapt to mobile phones, desktop, laptops, tablets or any other future devices.

  • Discoverable

PWA have service worker registration scope and W3 manifests that makes it easier for search engines to locate them. This will ensure that your Web pages are easily discoverable.

  • Safe

PWA also offer a lot of security. Thanks to the transport layer security (TLS) used by PWA, there is no chance of snooping and data tampering.

  • Fresh

The update process for service workers ensures that PWA are always fresh and up-to-date.

  • Independent of connectivity

PWA can load fast even when connectivity is poor. Service workers have certain features that allow PWA to load offline.

  • Installable

Progressive Web pages can be installed on the home screen of mobile phones, giving them an edge over traditional Web pages.

  • Better engagement

PWA support “push notifications” which lead to better engagement. Push notifications sent to users appear in the notification panel.

Should I use PWA for my website?

Yes, absolutely! The reason why progressive web apps are important is because they give users a seamless interface to interact with. This helps build trust among the users and the quick response time of PWA’s is the icing on the cake.

Let’s talk in terms of our traditional marketing funnel:

  • Awareness 

According to a report by Comscore, the reach of the mobile web is a whopping 2.5 times more than that of apps.

Not everyone likes to install apps for every website that they visit. This is one of the sole reasons why the approach of going “app-only” and abandoning their mobile website didn’t go down too well for big companies like Flipkart and Myntra.

Using PWA helps you ensure that you are reaching out to a large number of audiences that use mobile websites to surf. 

Tinder, a location-based dating service, created a progressive web app TinderOnline which was 90% smaller in size than their mobile app and drove a huge number of audience interactions.

  • Consideration 

Once you’ve reached your target audience, it is necessary to gain the trust of the user.

By using Progressive Web Apps you can ensure that you’re providing your audience a mobile website page that is fast, reliable, and engaging. 

The functionalities of PWAs like push notifications will help ensure that your user is engaged(kind of remarketing) and finally considers buying a product from your website.

Trivago, a German company providing internet-related services and products in the hotel & lodging field, was able to increase engagement by 97% by using PWA.

  • Conversion

When we talk about conversions, we talk purely in terms of numbers.

The ability of PWA’s to use API’s from native apps make the whole transaction process seamless. The various gateway implementations prove to be a boon in transactions and help you in your conversion rate optimization.

There are many success stories of companies that have significantly increased their revenues by adapting to a Progressive Web App approach.

What are some success stories of PWA?

  • BookMyShow

One of the well-known giants in the Ticketing industry was able to increase an 80% increase in conversions after the implementation of PWA.

  • Flipkart

The leading E-commerce brand in India used FlipkartLite(a progressive web app) which increased their conversion rate by 70%

  • AliExpress

a very famous online retail service based in China, went all the way and was able to achieve 106% more conversions using PWAs.

  • Treebo

Hotels, one of India’s budget hotel chains, build a PWA that increased its year-on-year conversion rate by 4x times.

  • Uber

A multinational company built m.uber, a progressive web app to help its users on low-end devices and slow 2G networks to quickly book a ride.

  • Nikkei

One of the well-known media businesses in Japan, who had problems with their Page loading time which ultimately led to bad user experience and affected their revenue numbers as well.

They put out a case-study showcasing how they were able to decrease their Page Load time using PWA’s. This ultimately led to an increase in revenue and build a consumer base.

  • Pinterest

A famous social media company, re-built their mobile site in PWA which resulted in a 60% increase in their engagement rates.

You can find many such case-studies that showcase the capabilities of Progressive Web Apps at PWA Stats.

Google also has its very own section where various PWA case studies are posted.

Get started with PWA

In order to set up PWA, there are three important things that you need to have in place:

  • Service worker

The most significant component of PWA is the service worker. It is a script which handles all the network requests in the background. It also processes all the complex instructions to serve PWA.

  • Manifest file

A Manifest file contains all the information about how a PWA should appear and work. It is a Javascript Object Notation (JSON) file that defines the name, description, icons, colours, and other properties of a PWA.

  • HTTPS connection

PWA do not compromise on security. If you decide to migrate your Web page to PWA, a secure HTTPS connection is required. PWA won’t function on an HTTP connection.

In order to build your first Progressive Web Application, there are plenty of resources you can refer to. There are also many tools in the market which can help you to migrate your Web pages to PWA. Google has easy and in-depth documentation on PWA that you can find here.

Conclusion

Progressive Web Apps are the ideal way to provide your user with the best user experience on mobile websites.

Will PWAs kill apps? Right now, this seems like quite a challenge. However, with more and more people becoming aware of the capabilities of progressive web apps, the future looks bright for PWA’s.

PWA is not only limited to mobile. With the latest integrations and improvements, they can now be implemented on desktop as well. If you’ve ever opened the mobile websites of Pinterest, Instagram, or Tinder on your laptop or PC, you’ve used their PWA version.

Let us know in the comments section what do you feel about this technology. Do you think PWAs will cause the death of mobile apps in the near future?

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