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Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) – The ultimate solution to today’s app adoption challenges

Progressive Web Application

Over the last few years, there has been phenomenal growth in the number of mobile and internet users. More than 60% of internet usage is via handheld devices – mobile phones, and tablets. Considering the world we live in now, we need solutions that offer the highest customer experiences. And this is where Progressive Web Apps (PWA) comes into the picture. These are web applications that use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience to customers.

What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)? 

A progressive web app or PWA is an application, built using technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that looks and behaves like a native mobile app. Additionally, PWA provides a rich and seamless experience to users. 

It is an application that is mobile friendly and looks like regular web pages or websites but has extra functionality. The additions include the ability to work offline, push notifications, and access device hardware. They can be bookmarked to a phone’s home screen, launched without the browser UI screen and encompass other features that are typically associated with apps.

Why PWAs?

There are many reasons as to why PWAs are gaining adoption and a preferred choice. Unlike traditional apps or native apps, progressive web apps are a hybrid between regular web pages and mobile applications. They follow a combined approach of developing a platform that operates as a mobile application as well as a website. They are not required to be downloaded from an app store – a major barrier to entry for the client and developer. At the same time, they are easy- to-use and prompt, just like native apps. 

PWAs have several key features that make them different from traditional web and native apps:

The main benefit of PWA is that, unlike various native apps, they are compatible with different mobile operating systems. This means you can use a PWA on multiple devices. However, for mobile apps, you need to create a different app for each specific app store like Android and iOS etc.

Key features of PWA include:

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Progressive: Works for every user and on all mobile browsers since they are built with progressive enhancement as a core basis.

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Responsive: Appears and functions at the same level across devices – desktop, mobile, tablet, or  any other devices that would come up in the future

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Safe and secure: Serves through ‘HTTPS’ to prevent any tampering or frauds to both the content and the user, and hence are considered safe and secure

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Connectivity independent: Apps can work both offline and on low quality networks connectivity as these apps are enhanced with service workers

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App-like features: Offers regular app-like features and functionalities, including easier navigation and a better user experience 

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Discoverable: Since they function exactly like an app, progressive web applications can be discovered through any search engine

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Re-engageable: Enables easier engagement with push notifications feature

PWAs are on the rise! 

Progressive Web Apps are on the rise and rightly so. In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the visionary idea of web apps along with the launch of the iPhone. In the decade following the launch of the App Store, Apple profited USD 40+ billion from it which changed the face of digital ecosystems. 

In 2015, designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome Engineer Alex Russell coined the term “Progressive Web Apps” to describe apps taking advantage of new features supported by modern browsers, including service workers and web app manifests, that let users upgrade web apps to progressive web applications in their native operating systems. Google then put significant efforts into promoting PWA development for Android. Subsequently, with Apple’s introduction of service worker support for Safari in 2017, PWAs are now supported on the two most commonly-used mobile operating systems – Android and iOS.

With this, more and more companies see a great opportunity for growth and are keen to experiment with PWAs. Here are some of the use cases of companies that have adopted PWAs in recent years:

  • In 2016, Flipkart, India’s largest eCommerce platform, as part of reinventing their digital strategy, adopted PWAs and saw a 3X increase in the time spent on their website, 70% greater conversion rates among those arriving via “Add to Homescreen”, and 3X lower data usage
  • AliExpress saw an increase in their conversion rate by 104% by introducing a new Progressive Web App
  • In 2017 Twitter launched Twitter Lite that saw a 70% reduction in data consumption. This PWA was only 600 KB over the wire vs the 23.5 MB of downloaded data that was needed to install the native Twitter app

How do PWAs benefit the users :

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Increased discoverability

PWAs have all the app-like features (can add to the home screen, work in offline mode, allow push notifications) and hence, lead to increased discoverability.

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Offline availability and connectivity 

PWA is a web application, which can be installed on one’s system. It works offline even when there is no internet connection, leveraging data cached during the last interactions with the app.

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Responsive

A PWA is not limited to one device and platform, is very easy to share with no lengthy download and installation process.

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Instant updates with push notifications

Push notifications play a crucial role in helping the users have a direct connection with the app, even when they are not using it. It is used to pass on valuable information about the brand or its offerings in the form of videos or other content.

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Occupy less storage space 

PWAs work on the web so they do not occupy much storage space on devices as users need not move app data from SD card to phone memory & vice versa. 

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Engaging User Experience

PWAs are not only marketers delight but also a delight for users and developers. A core part of the web app experience is for users to have app icons on their home screen, and to be able to tap to open apps. 

Some of the businesses benefits of PWAs are:

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Conversion rates – higher user engagement

Web apps have better speed and have the lowest load time of about 3 seconds. As businesses can’t afford to lose traffic, PWAs work as a saviour for the sellers.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

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Higher marketing ROI

PWAs are easily discoverable hence have a higher reach. Search Engine Optimization techniques such as making content crawlable, creating a unique URL structure, specifying the canonical tags, making responsive web design, etc., allow these apps to be indexed by search engines. For countries with poor internet connections, progressive web apps are the best option for reaching more users.

PWAs are the perfect solution for optimizing ROI and are the true driving force behind any business. By focusing on a single mobile channel, web acquisition and loyalty development costs are naturally reduced.

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Faster development and lower maintenance costs

Since PWAs are mobile-optimized versions of web pages, there is one codebase for all devices leading to faster development and hence, reduced cost of maintaining these apps.

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Cost-saving as there is no need to list on Google Play, App Store, etc.

As PWAs do not need to be listed on Google Play Store or Apple App Store, there is a significant reduction in costs for businesses.

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Support in search results (thanks to mobile-first approach)

PWA SEO/SEM best practices, such as content crawlability, clean URLs, canonical URLs, and UX designs are well known for their responsiveness resulting in careful content creation along with catering to multiple devices.

In a nutshell, Progressive Web Apps are here to stay and will be the future of mobile application development. 

Businesses that would benefit the most would be the ones that are targeting B2C applications. Ecommerce followed by Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, and Media would benefit immensely in this space. The results achieved by different companies are a testament that it is profitable to move web applications and mobile sites to PWAs. 

We at Neutrinos, enable quick implementation of PWAs where all service workers, background sync, push notifications, offline, and caching support needs are either encapsulated as drag and drop components or configurable within the platform. With one click deploy – business users can quickly convert any web applications built on the platform to progressive web apps. 

To learn more about how to build PWAs using Neutrinos Multi Experience Development Platform (MXDP), talk to us! 

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