An app but not – Progressive Web Apps

Niño Ross Rodriguez NR

What’s In The Name?

You might have read it somewhere or heard it from someone the buzz word Progressive Web App or PWA. W is for web in PWA so it might be web based. A is for app so does it mean it only runs on mobile phones? If it’s a web app, it runs best on desktop? What if there is no internet connection? I would define “a Progressive Web App looks like an app, behaves like an app, but it’s still a website in its core.”

So, What’s The Big Deal?

We now know that PWAs are just websites, now what? What is so special about PWAs that we should be considering this new tech?

The magic behind all this wizardry is a script that runs in the background of the browser called a service worker, script lets the browser to have features like offline caching, background syncing and push notifications. These features were once exclusive to mobile apps but are now available to mobile and desktop browsers. The best part of PWAs are is that you don’t need an app store to share it with the world. Think of it as a website with superpowers.

Mobile Web Is The Future

A study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting finds that more than 55% of all traffic is coming from a mobile device and will continue to grow. By keeping in mind this statistic, we can see a clear pathway to where mobile web is going.

The Lines Between Apps and Web Are Blurring

Native web APIs are steadily growing for developers to use. With more and more features from mobile apps are slowly coming to the mobile web, the user experience between the two different platforms are getting more the same. Probably push notifications and background sync is one of the best features that came to the mobile browser.

Service Workers Is Coming to iOS

Apple devices are still the biggest hurdle when it comes to having a unified user experience for the mobile web. There is a lot of native web features that are available in Android devices but not supported in iOS. Service workers is one of them. Until around August 2017, Apple has updated their feature status page for service workers to In Development, which simply means that iOS devices might have the features that PWAs are known for. Only time will tell what features will be supported by their devices.

Mobile Apps Are On A Decline

Unless the apps that you have are in the likes of Facebook, FB Messenger or YouTube, your chances of getting and retaining new users are quite low. With the app boom over and on its decline, users today keep apps that they use often and frequently. Most of the time downloaded apps get lost in the sea of other apps and folders in their smartphones ending up forgotten.

App Funnel Journey

In a typical mobile app journey from looking for an app to doing what the app is meant to do, every step towards the end goal costs 20% of users. The number may vary depending on the app or the audience but generally users may drop at every step. It could be just because it wasn’t compatible with their device or they needed to login or create an account in order to use the app.

Should I Be Building It In PWA?

It always boils down to the requirements of the project. Below is a simple flowchart that I created to help decide on how your next project should be built.

Flowchart in choosing a development platform

Let’s Get It On!

PWAs may be the solution for your next or existing project or not. Specially with iOS finally getting on board with the PWA bandwagon, the possibilities could be endless. Creating PWAs for existing and new projects not only improve the user experience, it also improves performance. Stay tuned for my next article on how PWAs can help improve user experience and performance.

How can we give your website superpowers?