Eight Reasons to Consider Progressive Web App Development

A progressive web app takes the best from the web and mobile worlds. It uses the advantages of the state-of-the-art technologies and even a much larger ecosystem, combining them with relatively easy development and maintenance, as well as a slight edge in terms of user experience.   

But what are the core elements that make a progressive web app? Is it just an enhancement of mobile experience or is it the actual future of web development? Should your company consider building its own one? Read on to get the full picture.

The long way to becoming progressive

“The idea is that you start with something that is a website and that progressively becomes more like an application” – Alex Russell, software engineer, Google.

This concept can fill in the blanks between the web and native applications and offer the way to building both reliable and prompt solutions for the mobile age. To cut it short, PWA is the improved version of a website, but which has earned the right to be on your home screen.

Beyond that, the progressive app is expected to offer such perks as push notifications, offline performance, background sync, nice look, and intuitive design. It should be linkable, secure and responsive. For a site to get the “Add to Home Screen” banner Google requires:

  • A website must be visited twice within 5 minutes
  • Valid HTTPS connection
  • Valid web app manifest
  • Valid service worker

progressive-web-app-development-startup

Why progressive web apps?

How many apps do you download every month? How much time do you spend on apps? And if you’d be offered something more convenient, would you prefer it to mobile apps? All these questions can help you to answer the main question: “why should I build a progressive web app?” Let’s discuss in depth.

Related article: Seven Reasons to Hire a Dedicated Development Team

In 2016 users downloaded around 149 billion mobile apps to their devices, while these numbers are projected to grow and in 2021 a number of app downloads can reach almost 353 billion.

progressive-web-apps-global-mobile-app-downloads

Source: Statista

Roughly half of smartphone users don’t install any solutions within a month, while the average end user downloads two. Talking about those ones, who download applications throughout the month, the average number of downloaded per a person is 3.5. 

progressive-web-apps-number-of-apps-downloaded-2016

Source: The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report by comScore

Currently, users opt for mobile apps, instead of mobile sites and they spend around 80-90% of their time on apps worldwide.

progressive-apps-percentage-of-mobile-app-vs-browser-minutesSource: The U.S. Mobile App Report by comScore

These numbers are the key insight for those business owners, who still decide whether to develop mobile apps or focus on mobile-friendly websites. So will mobile app development prove to be the best option? – Perhaps, however, there is always a huge “BUT”. A study has found that apps miss about 20% of their users at each step of the installation process.

progressive-app-mobile-funnel

Source: blog of Gabor Cselle

Yes, the exact figures can vary, however, the problem remains. First, a consumer has to find an app, download it, accept several user agreements, “read” privacy policy, provide access to information, install it, finally, open, and use it. Now think about PWAs. You skip the download and installation processes and start using it instantly. What a relief, isn’t it?

In any case, native apps are not that bad. Well-structured solutions consume fewer resources and perform much faster. Among other advantages are push notifications that, on average, ensure 88% higher user engagement:

progressive-web-app-push-engagementSource: Localytics

While in-app messages drive 27% more application launches and 2-3.5x higher user retention:

progressive-app-user-retention-inappSource: Localytics

Considering all pros and cons, progressive web applications take full advantage of mobile apps’ features, eliminating travails involved in further maintenance.  

Related article: Time-and-Materials vs Fixed Price: Which to Choose for Your Project?

Progressive web apps’ features

Diving deeper, what are the main characteristics that make progressive apps so progressive? What features make them stand out?

Google claims that the new level of quality is comprised of:

  • Reliability – instant load without failures;
  • Swiftness – fast response with smooth animations;
  • Engagement – immersive user experience;

However, other resources and Alex Russell (one of the PWA’s “inventors”) come up with a longer list. They state that PWA should be:

  • Progressive –works well on any gadget or browser, by virtue of progressive enhancement;
  • Linkable – easily shareable through URL, without any complications;
  • Discoverable – recognizable as an “application” (Service Worker registration scope and W3C Manifests) and can be quickly found via search engines;
  • Responsive – fits well in any screen size: mobile, desktop, tablet and whatever to come in the future;
  • Installable – PWA can be easily added to the home screen, becoming readily available;
  • Independent –can work both offline and in areas with low-level connectivity;
  • App-like – should look like a native app with similar navigation, interactions, and minimal page refreshes;
  • Re-engaging – offers easy re-engagement through push notifications, using the best practices of native apps;
  • Fresh – seamlessly updated, to instance the latest content and display it to users;
  • Safe – served through HTTPS to avert snooping.

Progressive web apps’ examples

You shouldn’t choose between progressive web apps vs native apps because they don’t necessarily emulate. Though they still have some areas of common interest. Mobile apps are mainly built for frequent use, while with PWA the situation is the same. 

Making the choice between these two options, start with identifying your audience, their requirements, and needs. For instance, creating a progressive web app will pay off if you offer interactive content that requires regular updates and use of push messaging (news sites, stock sites, weather, social media are the best samples).

progressive-web-app-sample-the-washington-post

Source: Google Developers

Many leading companies follow these recommendations and provide users with progressive solutions, like RioRun by The Guardian or The Washington Post with its progressive enhancements into existing sites, The Weather Channel by IBM, Google+, and many more.

Travel and booking industries, as well as e-commerce,  can also adapt this approach to their needs, following the examples of Flipkart with Flipkart Lite platform, AliExpress with its cross-browser PWA, Alibaba, or Air Berlin with offline check-in and access to tickets.

Related article: Tips & Tricks on How to Develop Software for Startups

Benefits of progressive web app development

Looking back, let’s try and sum up all the above-mentioned features and define the top benefits that progressive web apps can suggest to your startup and consumers. Here are the eight reasons why you should consider developing a progressive app:

  • No hassle with download and installation

Though the majority of users will admit that using a quality mobile app guarantees a far better experience than a mobile browser, still many people disrupt the installation process at one of the stages. Usually, this process consists of at least 4 steps and one of the most common thoughts is “C’mon! I ain’t got time for this”.

While to access a PWA you just need to go to the site and the application is already up and running.

  • Shareable access

Saying “shareable” we mean cross-device support. Users can easily switch from one device to another and enjoy a non-stop experience. You access the same application, so no need to re-install or re-sign on every succeeding gadget.

  • The best of two worlds

PWAs take the advantage of both website and mobile application bringing usability to the next level. They can be found through search engines and easily accessed via a link, but they feel like a native app coming with push messaging to keep your consumers posted. Moreover, they can be easily added to the home screen for immediate access.

  • Quick updates only on use

Perhaps there’s nothing worse than waiting for your smartphone to download and install dozens of updates. Especially in those cases, when you do need it and right now. That’s quite annoying, isn’t it? – While PWAs have something to offer here as well. These solutions not just update briefly, but do that only when you access them, with little to no interference while modifications are made.

progressive-app-for-traveling

  • Offline opportunities

Offline work adds conveniences, especially while traveling and visiting areas with low-level or no connection. Just like a traditional native application, PWA provides users with great benefits within various scenarios in which your Internet signal may come and go.   

  • Enhanced performance

Due to the fact that content is efficiently cached in the app shell, it is uploaded faster, ensuring much better user experience, search engine ranking, and higher conversion rates. Various surveys prove that loading speed has a real impact on sales level and customer loyalty, while the data speak in favor of PWA development.  

  • No muddle with app stores

App stores like Google Play, iTunes Apple Store, and whatever comes next, have great authority. For an application to be included in their catalogs it must comply with multiple requirements, however, it still can be removed right away, if you miss one of the stages. Moreover, your app has improved chances of being found online via search engines, then via the app stores.    

  • Push notifications

Compare push messaging with an email newsletter and answer a simple question: “which one are you more likely to check?” This type of notifications has already proven its efficiency and it can fit well into your marketing tactics and strategies.

Push notifications can improve the retention rate, increase conversion, and re-engage users. Sending alerts directly on smartphones, they keep consumers posted on fresh products, posts, arrivals, abandoned carts, etc.

* * *

Like any other technology or software, not every business will benefit from progressive web app development. However, taking into account the positive results regarding performance, usability, conversion growth and bounce rate reduction, it is still worth considering.  It can serve as a solid enhancement to the existing website or as one of the strategies of attracting new users. 

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