Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are continuing to gain traction. A number of brands, such as Twitter, Starbucks, and Pinterest, have reported a considerable increase in user engagement levels when they replaced legacy mobile web experiences and native apps with PWAs. In this article, which is the second in the series of blog posts on this topic, we mention key PWA features that make progressive web apps are the future of web development, especially with respect to mobile devices.
What Are PWAs?
At their core, progressive web apps are web applications that leverage contemporary web techniques for delivering a native and rich app-like and seamless experience to users. PWAs are web apps featuring progressive enhancement designed to implement nifty features, such as background sync, caching, splash screen, offline mode, and push notifications.
Why Are Progressive Web Apps the Future
There are many reasons why PWAs could take over web development, rather than just being a hype that fades away with time.
Higher User Engagement
You might have come across several websites that show a dialog box featuring Deny or Allow buttons that you can click. If you click the Allow button, the website will send you updates whenever you are away. The primary advantage of this feature is that with just one click, you can add this website to your homepage. Similarly, in progressive web apps, the link-adding feature allows the application to be cached. So, you will have application access directly from your home screen.
Like most web developers, you might be familiar with how much Google likes to encourage websites to have HTTPs rather than HTTP. It is not surprising that cyber threats are at the top of the list for app and web developers.
HTTP has not proved sufficiently secure in the past when it comes to protecting a users’ valuable and sensitive information. This is why websites are being moved to HTTPs, which makes it a lot easier to launch a PWA in a secure and controlled environment. While entering sensitive and personal information in progressive web applications, like credit card details or contact information, users are likely to feel more secure and enjoy the peace of mind they deserve.
Streamlined and Fast Website
Progressive web applications are based on a new technology, known as service workers. Note that service workers are unique event-driven scripts with access to various domain wide events. They are programmable web proxies that reside between the wider internet and the user’s tab.
These proxies intercept and fabricate or rewrite network requests to allow offline support and granular caching. In simple words, they offer reliable and instant loading regardless of the network connection. As a result, it promotes better navigation and reduces load times.
Because of service workers, users have offline access to previously visited websites. As described previously, the concept of service workers is the cornerstone of PWA since they empower content caching, push notification, and background updates as well as offline functionality.
Note that offline access is possible through service workers as they are Java scripts which can work independently of your application and respond appropriately to network requests, connectivity changes, and push notification.
Look and Feel like Native Apps
PWAs are excellent alternatives to mobile applications. They are considerably cheaper to build and are cross-platform by default, meaning there is no need to develop separate apps for Android and iOS.
With PWA, users don`t need to visit the app store. Unlike native apps, progressive web applications don’t require heavyweight tasks, like downloading them. For example, the download weight of the Pinterest’s PWA is only 150 KB compared with the 9.6 MB required to deliver this experience for Android and 56 MB for iOS.
Moreover, a PWA may replace a website. It could easily be a marketing site, a blog, a shop or even a bunch of cat memes. PWAs offer the best of both worlds – URLs from the www, push notifications, offline access and deep linking.
Tools to Develop PWAs
PWA development is likely to lead the direction of mobile web presence, especially in the next few years. If you are new to PWAs, these tools will get you on the right track:
- Pwa.rocks offers examples of the excellent solutions under several categories, including business, shopping, and games.
- Google Developers provide resources that help you to code and has a comprehensive PWA checklist. For example, Lighthouse extension allows you audit web pages to determine if it qualifies as a progressive web app.
- PWABuilder takes data from your website to easily and fastly generate a PWA.