A Beginner's Guide on Progressive Web Apps
With the wave of smartphones, there are now plenty of new marketing tools available in the hands of companies such as native app and web supporting apps. It purely depends upon the know-how of every business owner how he or she manipulates the app technology, however, empowering your business with web apps has shown major progress as compared to native apps.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive Web App or PWA is a broader terminology to define a cluster of certain technologies that help in producing apps though the web. For simpler reference, they are just webpages or sites know as web applications.
The primary idea behind the web app is a web page that consists of web and native app features - has been prospected by Google in 2015. The advantages of PWAs are – fast interaction, fit the device’s shape, offline availability and dedicated home screen icon. While providing all the app features, none of the web features are sacrificed in the process. It perfectly works on a desktop computer as well as mobile devices.
Moreover, this technology goes way back before the formal announcement of Google as mobile browsers held the ability to bookmark a website to your phone’s home screen since 2011.
Why Progressive Web App?
According to a study, an app loses 20% of its users with every step between the user and the start of the app. Generally, the user has to visit the app store – next, find it, download it, install it, and finally open it. But, if all the middle three steps are eliminated and left with just direct usage of the app, then imagine how much will the user appreciate it?
However, it doesn’t mean that native apps aren’t useful. They have their own set of advantages. Thus, having a native and web app both can be very useful for businesses to derive benefits of both the app styles.
Features of PWAs
Source – Medium
PWAs have numerous features that can be used by businesses to elevate the user experience such as:
- Progressive – As the name suggests, PWAs are built with a progressive ideology to enhance core features. Thus, it works for all the users irrespective of their browser choice.
- Fits Everywhere – Progressive Web Apps are designed to fit everywhere – from your large desktop computer screen to a compact smartphone screen – they give the same response on all the devices.
- Offline Usability – PWAs are studded with the service workers to work offline and under the low quality networks.
- App-like Experience – The app shell model is used to provide navigation and interaction just like a native app but on the web.
- Updated – The web apps always stay up to date due to the service worker update process.
- Secure - It is enabled with the TLS to prevent snooping and make sure that content hasn’t tampered in any manner.
- Locatable – Thanks to the W3C manifests and service worker registration, the scope of search engines recognizing PWAs became strong.
- Highly Engage-able – Due to the app-like features such as push notifications, it is easier to establish engagement through PWAs.
- Installable – If a user wants to install a web app on the home screen, then they can easily do that without opening app stores.
- Shareable – The links of the PWAs can be easily shared to bypass the complex installation process.
Blocks of Progressive Web Apps
Source – onlinepc.ch
When you want to elevate a web application with the advanced features of PWA, then you have to understand the two vital building blocks. The two steppingstones of a strong PWA foundation are – Web App Manifest and Service Worker. Let us explain these elements.
Web App Manifest
The primary objective of the web app manifest file is to offer information related to the web app. The JSON structure of the manifest file contains basic information such as name, description, author, and icons. This information is utilized to install web apps on the home screen of a particular device. It will enable users to easily access the application from the home screen without going through the hassle of opening a web browser and searching the app online.
- Recognize – It helps in recognizing the network state and displays a special screen – in case of low or completely unavailability of the internet connection.
- Adds – Service worker adds application data to the browser cache so that when the user is online, then data will update automatically that was not transferred during the offline usage.
- Push Notifications – When users website isn’t open, then they will receive instant push notifications. It will keep you updated regarding any new development in the app.
It is clear from the service worker uses that it helps in improving the user experience and enhancing the conversion rates. Currently, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera have proper support for service workers. Safari and the previous Edge are missing out here, but Apple has started work on adding a service worker to WebKit -an open-source engine used by Apple. So, you can soon open service workers on your Safari browser soon.
Setting up a PWA
Source – Promatics Technologies
The process of setting up a web app is quite an intuitive process, but in nutshell, you can launch your progressive web app by following basic steps:
- Add App Icon – Users have to add PWA to the home screen of their devices, thus you have to first include an app icon.
- Add Manifest File – Next, you need to add the app manifest file to define the basic features of the app.
- Add Service Worker – After inserting the manifest file, you have to add a service worker that can be added in multiple different ways.
- Use Chrome Developer Tool – Once manifest file and service worker are running on the app, then test PWA in the browser using the Chrome Developer Tools.
- Use Lighthouse – You can use Lighthouse Chrome Extension to test the PWA.
PWA is important
After unfolding the layers of this beginner's PWA Guide, we can see that progressive web apps have real potential in them to capture the interest of the users. PWAs work as a supporting system with the native apps to facilitate businesses to retain all the users. The companies who have introduced PWA versions along with the native apps – have concluded positive results. So, it is important to have PWA today!