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Why Progressive Web Apps are the Future of Web Development?

What are progressive we apps

Why Progressive Web Apps are the Future of Web Development?

In recent years, mobile consumption has witnessed a steady increase. With more than two-thirds of the global population using smartphones, having a solid digital presence is necessary for businesses to get noticed and deliver more mobile-optimized and personalized experiences. 

We have been told by multiple digital agencies and are witnessing this firsthand. But what about the massive population of web users? Should businesses ignore their web presence in the race to get noticed on mobile?

The million-dollar question here is: how to target mobile and desktop users simultaneously without maintaining and developing a mobile app for each platform and having a responsive website as well?

To answer this, Google came up with a technology that it says is the future of web developmentProgressive Web Apps or PWAs

But are Progressive Web Apps the future of web apps? Especially for mobile and web applications? This is one question that I get asked frequently over the past few years as Native and Web Apps continue to dominate the mobile app market.

What are the benefits of progressive web app development? Building a progressive web app can cost significantly less and maintain compared to a native app. To clear all the doubts you have in mind, we will deep dive into what are Progressive Web Apps(PWAs) and their specifics on how well-suited they are for web development.

So let’s get started.

What are PWAs, Anyway?

There has been a lot of buzz around PWAs since their inception in 2015, with many claiming it to be the future of web development, especially regarding mobile devices or smartphones. 

At the core, PWAs are web applications that leverage modern web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and don’t require separate codebases for different platforms to deliver a native app-like and seamless experience to users.

They help bridge the gap between native applications (the apps you find on Google Play and Apple App Store) and traditional websites. Users can just visit the website and add the PWA to their home screen without visiting the app store to download the app. Cool! Isn’t it?

We have native apps on one side, which are fast and efficient in most cases but expensive for development. On the other side, we have websites that can be slow to load, and with connectivity issues – it gets worse and becomes annoying. This is where PWAs work well in any possible scenario – users get the best experience possible, even in slow connectivity or no connectivity (Yep! You heard it right)

With a well-designed PWA, users will not even know they are using a PWA as they get a glossy, appealing app-like experience that is fast to load, occupies less memory space, and is easy to use. 

So what makes PWAs so cool? Well, it comes down to the essential components listed below.

4 Key Components of a PWA

The following 4 are the key components that make PWAs unique. These components help PWAs provide several benefits, including faster load times, offline functionality, push notifications, and an app-like experience.

  • Web App Manifest: The manifest file is a JSON file that contains metadata about the PWA, including its name, description, icon, and start URL. The browser uses this information to display the PWA to the user.
  • Service Worker: This is a JavaScript file that runs in the background, enabling the PWA to work offline, load quickly, and send push notifications.
  • HTTPS: PWAs require a secure connection to protect user data. 
  • App Shell Architecture: App shell architecture is a technique for creating PWAs that separates the app’s core functionality from the content. This allows the PWA to load quickly and provide a seamless user experience.
  • Responsive Design: PWAs are designed to work on any device, regardless of screen size or orientation. This is achieved through responsive design techniques like fluid layouts and flexible images.

How are PWAs Fast?

PWAs are designed to be fast – a commitment that is achieved through several mechanisms. For example, Progressive Web Apps use caching to store frequently used assets so that subsequent page loads will be faster. Service workers are also used to pre-fetch content, which leads to pages loading more instantly. In short, PWAs provide an improved user experience, even when network conditions are not ideal.

PWAs work better than a typical mobile site or an app. Period!

Success stories in almost every industry vertical highlight PWAs significant improvements, such as below.

  • Pinterest saw the app engagement shoot up by 60% and a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue, and time spent on the website increased by 40% after a PWA implementation.
  • AliExpress, a part of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant, saw a conversion of new users by over 104% with a new Progressive Web App and 2X pages visited per session.
  • Twitter Lite saw a 75% increase in tweets, a 65% increase in pages per session, a 20% decrease in bounce rate, etc., after switching to a PWA.

With continued momentum and increased support from the tech giants, PWAs can and will eventually replace native apps if developed well at a fraction of the cost, thus saving time, effort, and money.

How Progressive Web Apps are Well-Suited for Web Development

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are suited for web development due to their ability to provide a native app-like experience to users while being built using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

Here are some ways PWAs are the future of web development and some benefits they offer. 

1) Cross-Platform Compatibility: PWAs can run on any platform or device, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. This means developers can build a single Progressive Web App that works across multiple platforms, reducing the need for separate codebases for Android or iOS.

2) Offline Functionality: PWAs can work offline, meaning that users can still access content even when they don’t have an internet connection. This is achieved through service workers that cache content and enable offline access to previously visited pages.

3) App-like Experience: Users get app-like experiences with features that include home screen installation and access to device hardware like the camera and microphone, full-screen mode, etc. 

4) Easy to Develop and Maintain: PWAs can be built using standard web technologies and don’t require specialized knowledge or tools. This makes them easier to develop and maintain than native apps, which often require platform-specific expertise and tools.

5) Fast Loading Times: PWAs are designed to be fast and responsive, with quick loading times. This is achieved through components like app shell architecture and service workers that enable caching and prefetching of content.

6) Discoverability: PWAs are discoverable through search engines and can be shared via URL, making them more accessible and discoverable than native apps.

They are an attractive option for developers looking to provide an app-like experience to users without needing a separate codebase for each platform.

Summing Up

With the growing demand for lightweight, accessible, and reliable web applications, PWAs will likely become increasingly popular in the coming years with significant support from all major browsers like Chrome, Opera, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Therefore, PWAs are the future of web development, with the technology sector investing a lot in these applications. 

Also, companies looking forward to maximizing their return on investment in web development can consider Progressive Web Apps owing to their ability to provide a native app-like experience, offline support, and easy installation, making it an attractive option for developers and users.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the PWA bandwagon today to reap all the benefits it offers.

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