“As of March 2017, there were 2.8 million available apps at Google Play Store and 2.2 million apps available in the Apple’s App Store”- Statista. No wonder how mobile applications have worked its way into our daily lives. However, observing the number of options available to the users, it makes it difficult for businesses to expect thousands of app downloads. Other reasons for not downloading mobile apps might occur due to storage issue, time constraint, errors while downloading, unavailability of an app on a particular platform (iOS/Android) etc.
With the growing dependency of users on mobile apps and its competition, businesses are now moving towards an alternative approach to make themselves visible. Big brands like Uber, Tinder, Trivago, BookMyShow, Twitter have chosen PWA as their way to stay ahead of the curve in mobile app development. Progressive web applications bring along a whole new set of features, to overcome the difficulties of users as well as that of developers.
So, what are Progressive Web Applications (PWA)?
In simple words, progressive web applications are mobile apps that run on web browsers. These applications render functionalities similar to that of a native mobile app. However, users do not have to download Progressive web apps and compromise on their valuable smartphone’s memory, unlike native apps. When users download an app on their mobile phone, vital resources get stored which enable them to use an app without internet. This is exactly what a PWA offers, by syncing in the background of the browser and enabling users to enjoy the mobile-app-like experience, even without a network. PWA is also reliable and fast in responding to user requests when compared to web apps.
Why build a Progressive Web App?
- Improved Conversions
Clicking on a link or downloading an app, what would you prefer? Considering the time constraints, phone storage issues and short interaction intentions, clicking on a link is easier to initiate a purchase or an interaction. PWA is improving conversation rates of major brands due to its easy installation and offline support. According to PWA Stats “BookMyShow’s PWA drove an 80%+ increase in their conversion rates” similarly “Trivago’s PWA-evolved website, increased user engagement by 150%, with a 97% increase in click outs to hotel offers”.
The offline work support is rendered by a service worker, in a progressive web app. A service worker is a technical element that allows the app interface to sync in the background, while a user is working offline. The content gets refreshed immediately when the user has a network connection while the interface remains unchanged, thereby improving the user experience.
- Fast & Reliable
According to Google, “53% of mobile site visitors abandon the page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load”. This makes it crucial for the brands, to ensure that the web app user experience is fast and reliable, to avoid any negative impact on revenue. Progressive web apps bridge this gap, as they load instantly even in slow network conditions. They respond to user requests quickly and smoothly, without interrupting the interaction. This is evident from the fact that “Uber’s PWA is only 50KB and takes less than 3 seconds to download on 2G networks” With this loading speeding, companies can surely reduce their bounce rates and increase their user engagements.
No doubt, developing a native app or a cross-platform app requires a huge budget and resources. Businesses spend large sums of money in order to offer cross-functionality to their app users. Moreover, they have to pay sales tax and adhere to separate app structures to develop an app for Android and iOS platforms. On the contrary, companies can create a single version of a progressive web app that will run on all the devices, thereby reducing the cost of development and deployment. With PWA, they just have to develop one app instead of three different apps for Android, iOS, and web, without compromising the native look and feel.
- Easy Access, Distribution & Updates
Easy accessibility is one of the PWA’s core functionalities that increase its competitiveness over other applications. Progressive web applications are efficient in a way that they work on-demand and are compatible with all the browsers and devices. The process of searching for an app in an app store and then waiting for its download is eliminated with progressive web applications. With PWA, users just simply need to add the app to their home screen by visiting the website and then use it later on their browsers.
In addition to accessibility, PWA also offers free and automatic updates each time its new version is released. This ensures that the user interaction is not interrupted due to surfing and new update installation. These updates take place automatically without prompting users for any permission.
- Native App Features
Apart from the speed, usability, and efficiency, modern users looks for the native design and feel in an app. Thus, to provide greater engagement opportunities PWA capabilities to offer native features are rapidly evolving. There are many native app features that are supported in a progressive web app, such as push notifications, offline support, smooth UI, installability and much more. In addition, progressive web apps provide shareability feature, i.e. they can be shared easily via URLs and social media platforms. This allows users to enjoy the native look and feel along with the modern features and benefits of PWA.
Progressive web applications have gained a lot of popularity lately and are being supported by the three main pillars of the mobile industry: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. The answer to the question- Why major brands are moving towards PWA, is unequivocally clear. With its outreach to the wider audience and modern functionalities, PWA is the smart option to explore in the mobile app industry. It’s now time for the companies to take a step forward and bridge the gap between mobile and applications, with Progressive web applications.