Create a rich user experience – why a progressive web app might be right for your brand

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.

For testers, PWAs are still JavaScript-based applications, so tools like Selenium and Appium will continue to function effectively. However, cross-browser testing on desktop and mobile platforms is getting more and more difficult and PWA introduces a higher level of complexity than RWD. As with any development of this ilk, new tests (manual and automated) must be developed, executed and integrated into the overall pipeline. With RWD, the main challenge was the visual changes brought about by the form factor. PWA introduces additional complexities due to more unique mobile-specific capabilities, such as no network operation, sensor-based functionality (location, camera for AR / VR, etc.) and multi-device functionality as well. as addiction to different test frameworks like Selenium, Appium. It may also be necessary to instrument the mobile side of the PWA to better interact with app UI components on devices. Testers need to know what PWAs can access and how to keep quality assurance high on their priority list.

Rewrite history?

The advantages of the PWA are therefore clear. Speed, consistency, usability – these are all great arguments for including PWA in your web strategy. But, you can be forgiven if you think, “Wait, haven’t I heard all of this before? “. Indeed, many brands are just starting to learn about Responsive Web Design – the big trend of yesterday – which simply applies the same code for both desktop and mobile site and adjusts the site to meet RWD ensures that the Website functionality, performance and visual layout are consistent across all digital platforms and various terms of use – but presented challenges for DevOps. Many have found that when you factor in the continuous testing of new features and ensure that your website performs optimally on all browsers, devices, operating systems, and carrier networks, RWD can be intimidating.

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.

Our recommendations

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.

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About Irene S. Stroupe

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