In the fast-paced digital world, PWA (Progressive Web App) development offers a seamless user experience without the hassle of intrusive app installations or screen space constraints. As a PWA developer, you can empower businesses to attract and retain more users while keeping development costs in check.
Embracing this trending solution allows businesses to bridge the gap between websites and native apps, offering the best of both worlds to their audience. When it comes to custom enterprise software development services, integrating Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) can offer significant advantages.
What is a PWA?
A Progressive Web App is a lighter version of the Native Apps that applies to the website in a way where the standard sites hold standard progressive betterment & responsive web design principles, but it keeps the conventional app experience intact. Also, the PWAs aren't specific to any particular device format.
It lets you install the app from the browser, it gets on your mobile just like a native app and works the same in the offline mode.
It's the best of both native and web
Key features of PWAs:
Responsive & Progressive– Built with progressive enhancement at its core, it fits in every device, every browser and works for every user
Universal– It comes with a single platform version of the app, which makes it accessible to all the potential users, no matter what device they are using.
Automatically refreshes– To avoid lag, PWS automatically refreshes after each content update, enabling users to use new features without re-downloading the app immediately.
Installable– Users can save it to any screen on their phone without having to download it from the app store.
App-like– They offer users a native-like experience with the user-friendly opt-in installation flow, app-style navigation & interaction.
Secure– The technologies supporting PWA needs app to work over HTTPS. PWA is already protected.
Why build a Progressive Web App?
A mobile-first approach is now most important than anything else. Gartner predicts that by 2020, PWA will replace 50% of consumer-facing apps. PWA in your browser offers the full native app experience. Depending on your app, it can manage customer information, online ordering, and referral programs as well. Additionally, push notifications also work on your PWA. Another important aspect is that your customers can use it in offline mode. The service workers.js that runs in the background eliminates the dependency on the network by responding with data from the cache, allowing PWA to run offline.
This offline mode means that if you opt for PWA, there will be no difference in the user experience; instead, users can hold the app not disturbing their phone storage. All Android devices are now PWA compatible, and Microsoft is developing many of its apps like Outlook and Teams as PWA.
From the development aspect, your PWA will cost less than Native apps. It will also take less time to develop.
How PWA works?
From a comprehensive Google checklist, here is a list of four minimum technology requirements for an app to be PWA, check it:
Web App Manifest
The Web App Manifest is a JSON file that explains the browser what your web application is and how it would works when installed on the user's mobile device or desktop. A manifest file includes the application's name, colors, and icons. Creating a manifest file is same as the JSON file and linking it from your HTML file. The manifest file can be linked from different pages to show to the browser that they all make up one PWA.
Service workers run in the background of an application and work as a proxy between the network & application. It manages the push notifications and helps to develop the offline-first web app using the browser's cache API. This speed up app performance even when it's running on offline mode.
Served over HTTPS
The PWAs must serve over a secure network. Talk to your app development team for an SSL certificate. This certificate makes your web a trusted site for users avoiding any hacker attacks. There is a misconception among people that the sites that handle some level of sensitive communication like personal or financial data require HTTPS, but every site on the web should be using HTTPS.
This technology is used to give an app icon when a user installs the progressive web app in their app drawer. A jpeg image is a right choice. There is a manifest tool that can generate icons for multiple formats. However, your development team will take care of it.
When is PWA a good alternative for a native or hybrid app?
For some businesses & enterprises, PWAs are a workable alternative for native or hybrid applications. They are rarely hardware intensive and are often budget-conscious. As the web platform is adding capabilities, it allows doing a lot from hardware access to 3D acceleration.
- PWA reduces the server load
- Makes web app experience faster & more reliable
- Combines UX of a native app with the benefits of the mobile web
- Cheaper to develop and maintain with single codebase for all platforms
- Service worker update process keeps PWA always up-to-date
- Requires no upfront installation to use the PWA
- Easy to find as ‘add to home screen' option pop-up on-site page
- Misses out on App store traffic
- PWAs consume more battery as compared to native apps
- PWAs has limited device features access
Examples of PWAs
When to build PWAs?
Developing PWAs are about user engagement. The users who don't want to make extra clicks to download an app is a significant part of your community. From a recent survey, it is found, more than 50% of US smartphone users don't download even a single app a month. Even if you already have a native app, with PWA, you can engage with these user groups as well. It also saves your money on native app's updates & maintenance.
As discussed, PWAs' access to the device's features is limited. So, if your project doesn't require the native-app specific features i.e., access to the camera, Bluetooth or geolocation, then go for a progressive web app.
Also, before taking any decision regarding mobile app development consider the overall performance & functionality, development time frames, and most importantly, user experience.