Progressive Web Applications: Need of the Hour?

The world is witnessing a revolution in a change in the digital world. Every day, several innovations aim to transform the very fundamental perspectives of technology. The recent impact has been consequential on significant aspects like performance & intelligence. Brands now realize that the user is the ultimate priority: the end result must impact the entire experience of the user. PWAs or Progressive Web Applications are a similar attempt in this direction, focussing entirely on the end-user experience and performance.

What are PWAs?

Imagine the result of merging the best features of traditional web apps and mobile apps - that is precisely what Progressive Web Apps or PWAs are. They act as an interface between the two, ensuring the amalgamation of features of both web apps and mobile apps. PWAs incorporate progressive enhancement philosophy to deliver the best unique experience. Progressive Web Apps cannot execute the individual functions of a regular web app or a mobile app, but it is designed in a manner that enhances cross-channel accessibility. PWAs are accessible from any web browser and can derive the same user experience from any operating system. PWAs utilise a progressive web stack (JS, HTML, CSS) to replicate the mobile app-like experience.
React, Polymer, Angular etc., are among the most used technologies for Progressive Web Applications.

PWAs - What's in it for you?

  • Greater Accessibility & Compatibility: Accessing mobile apps is tedious - visiting the app store, downloading the app (sometimes requires payment), waiting for the download, and then interacting with the app through the thumbnail on their screen. This can be a downside for specific brands, as they tend to lose engagement on mobile apps due to slow loading and interrupted user experience. PWAs provide maximum accessibility as they are involved with a URL, making them shareable, increasing conversion rates as a consequence. Users have the solution to navigate to the PWA through their browser or download a shortcut icon to their home screen for accessibility. PWAs are user-friendly, with little or no hassle for updates. It also reduces storage on devices and helps brands reduce their development and maintenance costs for applications.
  • ● Offline Operations: Even when there is limited connectivity or a compromised network, PWAs maintain their functions. This presents PWAs as an excellent opportunity for nations that do not have great connectivity, as brands can now venture offline and create their footing in new and old markets.
  • ● Independent Functioning: PWAs are independent in their functioning, unlike mobile apps that need to be downloaded from app stores, adhering to app store guidelines & regulations. This independence from app distribution services means more freedom for brands and their campaigns.
  • ● Safe and Secure: In the current scenario, security can be a major cause of concern for users. PWAs depend on HTTPS to deal with security issues and improve data safety, as this protocol allows to prevent snooping and content tampering. Web Bluetooth technology is utilised by PWAs for security features.
  • ● Peak Operational Performance: PWAs possess quick operation, and their impeccable performance has an impact on user experience and conversion rates. It improves customer experience by improving loyalty and retention. It imitates the operation of a website and hence is faster.

Developing: Native or PWA?
There are several factors that must be considered before choosing between PWA or native apps. The final desired outcomes decide which one to go for in the long run. It is beneficial to develop a native app when:
  • ● Speed and responsiveness are crucial for the app's success.
  • ● The business model relies on cost per download or in-app purchases.
  • ● The app is heavily dependent on device hardware features.
  • ● The app is supposed to be integrated with other third-party apps.

And PWA must be considered when
  • ● The app is to be distributed among a broader customer base.
  • ● Budget limitations exist.
  • ● Cross-platform compatibility is a necessity.
  • ● Updates are frequent and need to be done in less time.

Popular Brands and PWAs - A Smart Solution to Problems:

    Trivago possesses a good reputation for the hotel search engine available in 33 different languages. On the basis of the hotel's information, pictures, ratings, reviews and other features, Trivago helps its users to filter out the best offer. But they faced a problem when they saw a net increase in the number of mobile users, and for whom quality connectivity was also not accessible. Developing a mobile app was no easy task. On incorporating PWAs, they could now deliver features like offline mode, shortcut on-screen, push notifications and access via mobile browser to the end-customers. This resulted in increased engagement and a 97% increase in click-outs to hotel offers.

  • ● TWITTER (Founded 2006)
    A social media platform with currently more than 335 million active users, Twitter found it difficult when its user base was on slow mobile networks and had less storage on mobile devices. As a result, mobile users were spending less time on Twitter's website, and engagement in posting and commenting was low. Twitter wanted to find a lucrative alternative for people who were not using their native app or didn't have enough space to download it.
    With PWA, a unique blend of native apps and modern websites made it possible for users to access features like instant loading and lower data consumption. This resulted in a 65% rise in pages per session and a 75% rise in Tweets sent.

PWAs: Not always reliable?

Although PWAs are the new trending buzzword in the software world, it is necessary to consider that their relevance is conditional and unreliable in each circumstance. Due attention to the inherent weaknesses of PWAs is vital while developing:

  • ● PWAs might end up consuming more battery life.
  • ● All devices may not support the full range of PWA features.
  • ● Re-engagement for iOS users is an impossible task to achieve(URL scheme, standard web notifications);
  • ● Existent but limited online execution.
  • ● PWAs are independent in functioning; the absence of authority and approval procedures make them vague in operation.
  • ● There is little flexibility in terms of unique user benefits and programs (For instance, loyalty programs, loyalty, etc.)

In Conclusion: Is PWA the future?

The decision to develop a PWA must undergo several reflections: The factors to be considered are always dependent on the desired end outcome. There are several benefits of PWAs, but there are shortcomings as well. PWA indeed is a game-changer in the long run if a conscious decision is made in terms of the end outcome for the brand. As mentioned earlier, the end-users experience is of prime importance, and any feature that enhances this experience must be incorporated to achieve higher conversion rates.