Progressive Web Apps are comparable to native apps in terms of their usability, functionality and appearance. What makes them different?
The term Progressive Web Apps has become increasingly popular as businesses have put a lot more emphasis on mobile user experience and the importance of delivering excellent usability on the small screens. Many big brands, including Twitter or Starbucks, have taken advantage of PWAs to reduce storage space and decrease bounce rates.
Table of contents:
- What are Progressive Web Apps?
- What are the most essential benefits of PWAs?
- How do different browsers interact with PWAs?
- Limitations of PWAs
What are Progressive Web Apps?
Before we dive into the topic, how do we define Progressive Web Apps?
In essence, PWAs are comparable to any native application in terms of its usability, functionality and appearance. However, it is an application software which is delivered directly through the web. They do not require a physical download to a device, and as a result, offer a multitude of benefits for the user as well as the business owner, including decreased cost and storage space, usability offline and an increased engagement rate.
What are the most essential benefits of PWAs?
1. Similarity to the native app experience
When it comes to customer preferences for mobile applications vs Progressive Web Apps, opinions are divided. Mobile applications are very common, especially among Apple device users, since the company is doing their best to promote their App Store products.
Downloading an application seems to be the first choice among users, as they are used to being diverted to the App Store through the browser.
However, PWAs possess the advantage of looking and feeling like a native application while also maintaining the speed and lightness of a web browser. Sometimes, you might be using a PWA, without realizing it.
PWAs and native applications offer similar user experiences and interfaces, resulting in an easy-to-navigate and visually pleasing experience.
They are also very capable, and offer the possibility to add on native-like features, including live chats, push notifications and the use of geolocation.
This is an excellent option for start-ups that want to experiment with features without investing a lot of time and money, and gradually build up their platform over time.
Since PWAs are not directly downloaded to the hardware, you do not need to worry about storage space. It can be quite discouraging to wait for an app to download or having to uninstall one app to make room for another. With PWAs, this is not an issue.
PWAs are accessed via URLs and do not need to be fully downloaded to a device in order to function. Furthermore, even when downloaded to the home screen in an actual app version, PWAs take up very little space compared to regular apps.
In comparison to highly hefty IOS programs, they can take up as little as 250 KB. Starbucks is a wonderful example of a corporation that employs PWAs. They efficiently decreased the size of their app by 99 percent, going from 148 MB to only 233kb after switching from a conventional IOS download to a Progressive Web App.
3. Lower investment and maintenance costs
Of course, the cost-effectiveness of the software is one of the most important benefits for entrepreneurs. PWAs are not as expensive to build and do not require advanced development in the same ways as regular apps.
Since PWA development only requires a single line of code, in order for it to function similarly among all browsers, it does not require as much time to build, resulting in lowering the cost of hiring a professional.
It is an excellent method to test concepts and features without having to construct a native app from the ground up. Progressive Web Apps are ideal for start-ups and small enterprises that want to save time and get their technology up and running quickly.
4. Capability (even offline) and increased engagement
The PWAs are very fast and quick to navigate. As previously mentioned, due to their lightweight nature, they work very well even when the network connection is not at its best.
One of the most significant advantages of PWAs is their availability offline. The program saves all information automatically during the last online session and does not expire when the user goes offline.
A great example of an offline PWA is Spotify, allowing you to download music and podcasts and access your account in flight mode.
The ease of navigation and speed of PWAs makes them ideal for businesses that are looking to reach a new pool of audience. When you are aiming to significantly increase traffic, you don't want any lagging in the application to get in the way of attracting potential visitors.
Even large enterprises, such as Twitter, used PWAs in order to decrease their bounce rate. The implementation resulted in a 20% decrease in their bounce rate and a 65% in pages per session.
How do different browsers interact with PWAs?
Google has advocated for web technologies that provide an "experience equivalent to a native application." for a long time. It has pushed for and developed browser features/APIs in this regard, and Google has recently launched the Web Apps Fund.
Apple, on the other hand, prioritizes applications and downloads directly from their App Store, making it difficult for some PWAs to work on their devices, as well as they would have on an Android and the Chrome browser.
IOS blocks some PWA browser functionalities, therefore making the user download the PWA from an App store regardless of its availability directly through the web.
Limitations of PWA
As previously mentioned, Apple is trying to maintain as many application downloads as possible, which results in some PWAs not being supported by the Apple browsers, or limited regarding the spectrum of features. That can create a limitation in the form of lack of consistency, depending on the customer’s device.
However, PWAs can also be listed in app stores as an optional distribution channel. Including the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Microsoft store.
In conclusion, PWAs are an excellent starting point, particularly for start-ups and small businesses, who want to experiment with features and design.
They offer the benefit of a lower cost and reduced development time, as well as promote increased speed and user engagement. If you are a fresh business owner looking to quickly increase traffic and open up to a new scope of potential customers, PWAs are definitely worth a try.
In terms of the limitations, the most important aspect to keep in mind is the browser compatibility. Make sure that the features you choose work on both IOS and Android, in order for your app to reach its full potential.