A Beginners Guide to Progressive Web Apps | Web Force 5
A Beginners Guide to Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications that are created like normal web pages or websites, but they appear like native mobile applications. This type of application uses a combination of the features offered by most modern browsers, along with the benefits of a mobile experience. Originally proposed by Google in 2015, they offer the best of both worlds.
PWAs are built using web technologies but behave and feel more like an app. The great thing is that these apps work everywhere and have features that give a user experience like that of traditional native mobile applications. Progressive Web Apps should be discoverable, installable, linkable, responsive, safe, re-engageable, network independent, reliable, engaging and progressive.
Rates of users relying on native apps are decreasing due to the popularity of Progressive Web Apps. The benefits of a having a PWA include:
Ease of development and maintenance - a website can be built in less time than a mobile app and has access to the larger web ecosystem, plugins and community.
Keeping user interest - using a native app requires finding the app in an app store, downloading, installing and opening it. A Progressive Web App is ready for use, with the content accessible straight away.
Good user experience - PWAs load instantly, they are engaging and simple to use, and work offline. Being cross-platform, PWAs are compatible with desktop and mobile, and all the widely used browsers. PWAs are installable on the home screen of your computer and are therefore easily accessible.
Cost effective - PWAs are more affordable than mobile apps, which can be quite expensive to build from scratch.
Some advantages of a mobile app is that users may be more likely to reopen an app as opposed to a website. Also, a mobile app can use less data and be faster. However, it appears that the benefits far outweigh the negatives and Progressive Web Apps are the way forward.
Many large organizations use Progressive Web Apps, including Pinterest, Twitter, Uber and Spotify. Uber created a PWA to offer a great booking experience, comparable to their native mobile app. It made car bookings possible even on low-speed networks and low-end devices. Uber has provided fast requests to customers regardless of their location, network speed or device.
Pinterest was offering a fairly poor user experience on mobile devices, with a tiny percentage converting to sign-ups, and therefore created a PWA to help. With a better experience, user engagement has increased significantly.
Starbucks wanted an accessible, user-friendly online ordering experience and built a PWA of their ordering system on the web. Customers can now browse the menu, customize orders and add to their cart, whether or not they have a good internet connection. A great example of how a PWA is great for on-the-go customers.
How to Create a Progressive Web App
Due to the advanced technology we have available today, almost any existing website can be turned into a Progressive Web App. If you are considering your business’ next application, maybe a PWA is the way to go for you.
To qualify as a Progressive Web App, websites must meet 3 baseline criteria:
It must be running under HTTPS so it is secure.
It must have a Web App Manifest to make your application installable.
It needs a service worker. This will support your caching and therefore offline use, as well as running tasks in the background such as sending push notifications.
The basic steps for building a Progressive Web App are listed below. There are a range of solutions to assist you with developing a Progressive Web App. The best option for you will depend on the level of functionality and customization you need, the complexity of your product or service, your budget, resources, design requirements and user experience.
Ensure you are secure, serving over HTTPS. This is something all websites should be offering now anyway.
Create an application shell, which is the first thing a user will see. You want it to load quickly and tell how your web app will look and function.
Register a service worker to ensure your PWA has access to caching, install prompts, push notifications and offline access.
Add push notifications to help provide convenience and value to your users. They are a way to communicate directly to the user.
Add a web app manifest so your PWA is installable. It is basically a description of your application, including icons, a splash screen, name and description. It also determines where your app appears when it is launched.
Configure the install prompt - this will encourage the user to install your web app to their home screen if they have visited the site twice.
Analyse your app’s performance to ensure it is fast for users under any network conditions. You can use an audit tool to test your app and measure its performance.
Engaging a professional service isn’t often a straightforward and cost-effective choice when it comes to web and app development. Web Force 5 has a team dedicated to helping businesses create a Progressive Web App and will create a custom solution for yours. Speak to a specialist consultant for a free no obligation chat to find out more.