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Progressive Web Apps

Written by Putti Author

March 24, 2022
progressive web app

Over the years, digital consumption has been through a radical change. It’s a revolution that has changed the way people access information over the internet. Of course, with a vertical growth in smartphone users, they are the torchbearers of the digital revolution without any doubt. Increased mobile usage has upped the game for businesses globally, allowing them to re-strategise their online user experience.

Statista shares insightful data on mobile web traffic that accounts for more than 50% globally from 1st quarter 2015 to 3rd quarter 2020. This increase in web traffic from mobile users comes with an expectation. Users want any accessibility issues to be eliminated and switch faster across desktop, mobile apps, or mobile websites. However, not every business could afford to invest and manage a native app other than mandatory desktop websites, and mobile websites come with limitations.

So how would this gap be solved?

The Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) would lead the app-less revolution. Too good to be true? Here’s why.

The travel industry has been revolutionised rapidly over the last two decades, and the internet is fuel to the growth. Trivago understood the importance of disruption after identifying the rise of mobile usage. As a result, Trivago implemented progressive web apps to provide unified user engagement through the mobile web. As a result, Trivago saw a 97% increase in click outs to the hotel offers and a 150% increase in user engagement rate. That’s impressive!

The use of mobile devices in today’s time is not just limited to communication only. It’s moved way beyond that, and businesses need to transform accordingly. The trend of utilising disruptive technologies for the mobile web has already begun, like how Trivago used PWAs for increasing engagement.

Mobile-first is not just limited to having a responsive test or native apps. You also need to think of a solution that would cater to both needs. If PWAs can be built with such ease, providing hassle-free installation and all the value of a website or native apps at a cheaper cost, why not implement it right away? To find an answer to that, let’s understand the basics of PWAs, along with some critical differences between PWAs, Native Apps, and Responsive Web.


What is a Progressive Web App?

Progressive Web App or PWAs are well packaged responsive mobile view websites that provide a native app-like experience right through the browser itself. You can install and access directly from the home screen, making it lighter on the device storage and helping you with a rich user experience similar to mobile apps.

By combining websites and native apps’ capabilities, PWAs have managed to break the os-device dependency norm. Unlike native apps, progressive web apps are independent of operating systems or devices. They offer multi-device/platform support and can be developed quickly with the help of HTML, CSS, or JavaScript.

PWAs vs Native Apps vs Responsive Web App

Native apps have been the core drivers of technology since Steve Job’s inception of the iPhone, and it just changed how people would use a mobile phone. Suppose developers use a programming language adopted for a particular platform; an application will be called native. Native apps are built for specific operating systems and with a specific set of languages. This depends on the platform’s app store or play store for them to be accessible to the users.

While progressive web apps are simply websites that use modern web technologies for creating seamless experiences that somewhat replicate the native app experience, they are platform-independent and can be quickly built.

Responsive web apps are a comprehensive approach to delivering a better customer experience on various devices. When mobile devices became popular, responsive web design was the first logical move to make websites more useful for mobile users. It has also rapidly become a fundamental necessity for new websites. Most web designers have adopted it to provide a seamless digital experience to the end-users.

But responsive web apps could not deliver additional features like offline service, push notifications, or other native app-like functionality that users anticipate from their smartphones. From the marketing perspective, these features are necessary to bring user engagement and conversions. This, in turn, forced businesses to move towards progressive web applications to transform their responsive web applications.

 

Advantages of PWAs

  1. Budget-Friendly: With average smartphone app development costs of about $50K, website owners will find it easier to introduce progressive web apps on their existing websites to save on budget and maintenance.
  2. Ease of Maintainance: Before building any application, you should never forget its production and maintenance costs. The maintenance charge for any mobile device or web application would be approximately 20% of the production cost. Since the expense of creating progressive web apps is less than the price of native apps, maintenance costs would be the same (Including mobile app tests).
  3. Smaller and Lighter: The size of progressive web applications is more diminutive than native applications. The size of Twitter apps over Android and iOS devices are significant, but for PWAs like Twitter Lite, it is around 600 KB.
  4. Lower Bounce Rate: According to Google, most users bounce off when the site takes more than three seconds to load. The average bounce rate for the progressive web app is approximately 42 per cent. Progressive web apps are lighter, and page load speed is better than native apps; therefore, they perform better in search engines.
  5. Offline Support: The most essential feature of progressive web app development is the ease of access, even if there is zero connectivity. It keeps the information and enables the user to obtain the data by utilising the Smart cache feature.


How are PWAs being used by organisations?

As the tech sector spends heavily on creative web solutions, PWAs are becoming more recognised. Currently, PWAs are fully supported by popular browsers like Chrome and Opera, while Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and iOS are making great strides in giving additional support for progressive web apps.

PWAs are pretty helpful – it is making a big difference because it enable more businesses to develop a deeper relationship with their customers and build brand loyalty through push notifications. 

Similarly, media giants such as the BBC, The Washington Post, and Forbes have also implemented PWAs to spread their content more efficiently through customers across desktop and mobile devices.


Findings 

If we compare progressive web apps, responsive web apps, and native web apps, they have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, you have to determine which application suits your requirements. If you want a consistent mobile experience, then you can choose progressive web apps, and if you’re trying to improve site speed and accessibility for most users, responsive web apps may be a better option. Similarly, if you’re looking for performance and want to access the operating system’s features, choose a native web app.

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