Progressive Web Apps – are they really the future of web development?
Any good business owner will tell you that you must always give your customers an enjoyable and efficient experience. That seems obvious right? Well, it’s no different online than it is at your local corner shop.
One of the ways that brands are strengthening their user experience (UX) offering is by investing in Progressive Web Apps (or PWAs). Basically, these are websites that look and feel like a regular app. This means that users can now access everything they need, without downloading an actual mobile app.
Progressive Web Apps harness modern web technology in order to bring the great usability of apps straight to the browsers of their current or prospective customer. It really is that simple.
By doing this, PWAs can deliver a wealth of perks for users. Some include; less data use, speedier loading times and all-round improved performance.
They even cost almost ten times less than a mobile app to produce! So, it’s really no surprise that PWAs are being tipped to be ‘the future of the web’.
One big fan of PWAs is our very own Liam Prowse, Everest Media’s Junior Developer. A Cornish graduate fresh from university, Liam joined Team Everest this year after completing his Computing Technologies Bachelor of Science degree with flying colours.
While studying, he picked up a keen interest in mobile and web application development. Now, as part of our new Everest Media Explainer Series, he has talked us through the benefits and shortcomings of PWAs.
Everest Media’s Liam Prowse explains the big benefits of Progressive Web Apps
“In a world where apps are leading our lives, they need to be reliable, faster, more engaging and more accessible than ever before,” said Liam. “Enter progressive web apps!
“Progressive web apps are experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of the apps in one.”
Simply put, users feel the benefits from the very first visit in a browser tab; no installation is required.
“Over time, as the user builds a relationship with the app, it becomes more and more powerful,” adds Liam. “It loads quickly and even on slow or unreliable connections they can send relevant push notifications.
“One of the main benefits of progressive web apps is the speed. Research undertaken by Google identified that 53% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
“This means to engage the user from the get-go the app must be fast. Even once the user has been engaged by fast loading times, the experience must be consistent; no janky scrolling or slow to respond interfaces.”
Are there any downsides to Progressive Web Apps?
Liam added: “There are, however, some disadvantages to using progressive web apps; not all browsers support them.
“Most of the popular modern browsers have support for them, however a notable browser missing from the list would be Safari. With that said, the iOS 11.3 update does begin to lay the groundwork for them, with basic functionality working.”
Another disadvantage is the number of hardware components they have access to. For example, fingerprint sensors, GPS and cameras are not currently supported.
But as Liam says, lack of browser and software support really seems to be the only catch right now. So, as the tech world continues to progress at pace, it is hoped that these issues can be ironed out – and PWAs can be allowed to become more well-used.
Can Progressive Web Apps bring in more business?
Should PWAs continue to rise in popularity it won’t just be app users benefitting. More and more businesses are discovering how valuable a switch to PWAs can be.
One of the most popular mainstream services to move to PWAs is AliExpress. The online retailer wanted a way to provide web users with all the benefits of their native application and more. Amazingly, after the implementation of the PWA, AliExpress saw a conversion rate of new users increase by 104%.
“From a developer’s point of view, progressive web apps are extremely economical,” Liam summarises. “They are faster to build and update than native mobile apps.
“You can create one version of the app that displays perfectly and identically on all devices it is used on. This ensures that your users get a seamless and familiar experience whatever device they’re using.
“When you compare this to the time and effort, not to mention the cost, involved in creating a consistent user experience across platforms when using native mobile apps, it’s easy to see why many app developers are already switching to progressive web apps.”
So, what does this all mean?
Progressive Web Apps, coined by Google only three years ago, are still – well – progressing. But as Liam explained, they are bringing real benefits to app users and businesses alike.
Making the switch is therefore something to consider, especially as they’re seen to be the ‘future’ of the internet. So, watch this space!
If you are interested in exploring other ways to get ahead of the game and make the most of our insider knowledge and tips like this, please feel free to contact us.
Our Digital and Development teams specialise in an array of services catered to enhancing business and digital success. Whether it’s SEO, Analytics, Design or Development we’re confident we can help find a way to unlock your online potential.
Anything else you want to know?
This blog post is part of a new series of explainers, straight from the mouths of the team behind the Everest brand.
— Everest Media (@everestmedialtd) November 20, 2018
We have lots more of informative content planned. But if there’s anything in particular you would like covered – just shout! You can email our Digital Copywriter, Tom Gainey, at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions at any time.