When mobile first started out, websites had to create separate mobile websites which had less content than their desktop versions. That meant twice the maintenance for a not-so-quality product. We then entered the era of responsive web design, which still has its limitations.
While native apps are still prevalent and certainly aren’t going away anytime soon, they present challenges for developers and customers alike.
Over the past couple of years, progressive web apps have been on the rise, and they seem to be solving the problems that responsive web design and native apps have.
What the heck is a Progressive Web App?
A progressive web app (PWA) delivers an app-like experience through your mobile phone’s browser but has the same flexibility and gestures as a native application. Because they are powered by mobile browsers, they are not particular to any one device, meaning developers no longer need to write separate code for Android and Apple devices.
Why Are PWA’s the Future of Apps?
There are tons of reasons why web developers and app developers think PWAs are more than just a trendy blip in the mobile experience. Here are our ten reasons why PWAs will be the future of applications.
Reduced Friction for Users
This is perhaps the top reason why PWAs will be more than a trend in the mobile experience. There is hardly any conflict between a customer discovering your company and accessing your PWA.
Consider a traditional native application. A user must go into the app store, find your application, wait for the app to download, accept permissions, then it’s ready to use.
With a PWA, your customer need only find your website through a Google search, and then they’re immediately launched into your PWA. No downloading, no waiting.
There’s also reduced user friction because they don’t need to worry about using additional data to download your app and they don’t need to delete your app when they require more storage on their phone.
Native App Flexibility
When you launch a PWA in your browser, you get the full native app experience. The shell of the PWA looks like an application and mimics any gestures you might get in a customized native app.
PWAs can also manage customer information, online ordering, and loyalty programs.
You can also prompt a web user to save your PWA to their home screen as a shortcut, so they instantly access it whenever they want. You get the full native app functionality including push notifications.
Cybersecurity is a topic on everyone’s minds. New standards in web design are encouraging web developers to move any websites that deal with customer information to HTTPS. Previous standards, i.e., HTTP, were not secure enough to guarantee consumer information protection.
Because more websites are being programmed in HTTPS, it’s easier to launch a PWA in a secure environment. Customers will have peace of mind when they enter credit card information or personal information into your PWA via a secure connection.
PWAs are incredibly reliable when it comes to their speed. Service workers, Java Scripts that run separately from the main web thread, enable your PWA to load nearly instantly, no matter how poor the connection.
PWAs by nature are very fast thanks to caching information in the browser and app. They have smooth animations, navigation, and scrolling to provide the illusion a user is in a native application.
Service workers use Cache and Fetch APIs to quickly load your PWA, meaning it spends less time trying to load content. These functions also allow users to load the PWA offline from the home screen.
Even if a user has no internet connection, your PWA can still send background updates and push notifications to the user.
No App Store Middle Man
A major slowdown for native app developers is having to deal with app stores. When you develop a native app, you must register your account with the app stores and pay fees for each download and any in-app purchases. With PWAs, you don’t need to register with Apple or Google.
Make Adjustments Fast
Another benefit of developing a PWA instead of a native app is you don’t need to send new builds to the app stores when you need to adjust, a process which can take up to a week.
As an example, if you realize you have a critical bug in your native app, your developer needs to find the problem, fix it, send the build to Apple and Google, wait for them to review the build, then the new update will be available to your customers.
With PWAs, you can launch fixes immediately. You also don’t need two separate code bases for Apple and Android devices.
Remember our consumer journey to finding a native app? The brilliant thing about PWAs is customers can discover them when they’re relevant to what they’re doing. A simple Google search might pull up your website then launch the visitor into your PWA.
Operating this way also maximizes your reachable audience since you’re piggybacking off your website’s SEO efforts.
Ideal for Business
Companies that have implemented PWAs have seen incredible returns on their investment regarding engagement and revenue.
Some examples include:
- Twitter had a 75 percent increase in tweets sent and 20 percent decrease in bounce rate
- Lancôme saw a 53 percent increase in iOS mobile sessions and 17 percent increase in conversions
- MakeMyTrip.com saw 160 percent increase in shopper sessions
Those are returns you simply can’t ignore.
Looking to the Future
As we said before, native apps aren’t going away anytime soon. However, we believe we’ll witness a massive movement in PWA development as ecommerce sites, media sources, and restaurants look to captivate more audience members and get the maximum return on their investment. A few app builders already have the technology to allow users to build native apps and progressive web apps for their small businesses.