You may have heard in the industry that Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are about to be the next big thing. Those in the know might tell you that they will advance the mobile web, bring parity to the web and native apps, and provide mobile-specific capabilities to web users. Unsurprisingly, Google came up with the term, and PWAs are seen alongside accelerated mobile pages and responsive web design as a weapon in the fight for a smooth mobile user experience.
But if you haven’t read the hype yet, here’s the truth. Simply put, a PWA is a website that looks more like an app. For the user, they’ll load quickly – with no app store involved – can be added to a smartphone home screen, work offline, and can send push notifications, making them much more convenient than an app. Traditional web.
And for a brand, PWA technology offers the opportunity to develop ultra-fast mobile sites, much faster than responsive mobile web. They also offer the possibility of integrating access to on-board sensors for a richer user experience. PWAs are likely to make better use of apps, and there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to better engage customers.
Benefits of PWA Adoption
So, including a PWA in your digital strategy should be the natural next step in ensuring a rich, cross-platform user experience. Big brands agree that PWAs offer significant opportunities, and goliaths like the BBC and Twitter are already jumping into the act. By taking the best features of native apps (those designed for a specific operating system that leverage device features to increase speed and performance) and allowing access through browser and URL, these organizations turned looking to the future have realized that PWAs can solve real business challenges.
As with many web developments, the real power lies with the team that develops, tests, and maintains an application. In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s not just about having a “cool” application; We know that users are more likely to abandon a program if it has functionality issues, no matter how promising it looks. Some studies tell us that about half of negative app store reviews are based on issues like crashes, network performance, and battery drain – and therefore, quality assurance is key. .
Positively, progressive apps have a common source code base to develop for all platforms: web, Android, and iOS, which makes them easy to maintain and patch. And with Google – the masters of simplicity – behind the development; perhaps it’s no surprise that PWA is relatively easy to adopt. So, developers don’t need to learn new skills, but rather learn new APIs and see how they can be leveraged by their websites. PWA applications exploit two main architectural features that developers can use; Service Workers (which gives developers the ability to manually manage asset caching and control the experience when there is no network connectivity) and Web App Manifest (the file in the PWA that describes the application, provides application-specific metadata like icons, splash screens, and more) – and these present significant new opportunities for developers.
So, is PWA just a new headache for web development teams – as they ponder new foundations for app responsiveness, ensuring offline experience, interactions with sensors on-board (camera, microphone, etc.) – and more?
Forward-looking developers will look to overcome the challenges that this type of innovation brings and use PWA as an opportunity to deliver a better user experience. If you are a developer who is just starting to move from a .com or .mob site to a cross-platform web environment, then PWA is a great option. Web developers should base any change plan around an appropriate product or business milestone, such as a next big website release or a complete rebranding; making sure a move to PWA makes sense, and isn’t just a jump on the latest and greatest bandwagon.
So, PWA is undoubtedly a revolutionary technology, and the possibilities for businesses are vast. But, PWA is new. It is gaining momentum. It is likely to be here to stay, but a maximum RWD exodus is not yet likely. Developers and brands are advised to base any change plan around an appropriate stage; make sure that a move makes sense and that it’s not just a jump on the last and biggest bandwagon.
PWAs are not yet bulletproof or perfect – but represent a growing technology that is set to dramatically change the industry – for designers and developers and the companies they work for – as well as for consumers. It is therefore important that brands know how and when to best leverage them.