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Guide | January 08, 2021

PWA Hype – Get to Know Its Basis and Beyond

Decades have gone by with the massive domination of applications on the internet and mobile world. However, the recent rise of Progressive Web Apps is predicted to turn the tables soon. According to Gartner’s “Progressive Web Apps Will Impact Your Mobile App Strategy” report, PWAs will replace 50% of total native apps around the world by the end of 2020. Affirming such possibilities, Google recently released their Progressive Web Apps on Google Play for Chromebooks, raising PWA integration standards.

So what does a PWA do? Why is it such hype in the technology world? Let’s explore now.

1. What is PWA?

We have seen a variety of the different definitions of Progressive Web App (PWA) from many reputable sources, including Google, Mozilla, etc. Yet, there is no single standardized definition of what a Progressive Web App is. What we are getting now is experiences from long-standing developers condensed into one rugged frame for PWAs. This is understandable since PWAs are fairly new, and the technology is changing continuously beyond every border available, making it challenging to name the variable. However, we can conclude that a “PWA is a kind of website built using web technologies but acts and feels like an app.” 

The idea of PWAs was not popular back when it was first introduced in 2007 and became frozen for almost a decade. That time belonged to native apps, as we have experienced until now. Then recently, Google led the way to bring Progressive Web Apps back to life, making it the hype of the technology world in the last five years. And the tech giant also announced their standards for PWAs, which encourages the true experience that feels like a platform-specific application. The three key characteristics are Capable, Reliable, and Installable.

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  • Capable: One capable PWA is the one platform that owns full capabilities of both app and web features such as system access, media controls, app badging, etc. These features should be user-centric and operated by permissions from the users. 
  • Reliable: This criterion proposes the standard that a PWA needs to load fast regardless of the network. It means any photos and other elements feel smooth along with all scrolling and clicking. And these materials shall be available and usable even when the internet connection is slow.
  • Installable: A Progressive Web App should be run in a separate window instead of opening in a browser tab. Users could directly find and switch between other available apps on their devices.

2. Understanding the pros and cons of PWA

PWA technology helps Twitter increase 65% in pages per session with 75% more tweets; enables Nikkei to gain 2.3 times more organic traffic, and much more. Therefore, people have been calling the Progressive Web App the best of both worlds, raising its value as the ultimate solution when it comes to building modern web applications. But are PWAs really flawless? Would there be no existing or potential challenges using PWAs? Let’s dig deep into what PWAs have to offer and their drawbacks now.

a. PWA’s benefits 

As PWAs gradually grow to break their boundaries, the more capabilities they have. This demonstrates that their full potential has not yet been discovered. Here we are mentioning the most notable advantages that PWAs offer.

  • All in one: With a PWA, your system is now one size fits all. PWA acts like websites, making it possible for you to share the PWA by copying links to the pages. And Progressive Web Apps fit all devices like smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
  • Short loading times: Most users have been encountering slow loading speed problems on websites. However, it would not happen with PWA. It works faster, even with a poor internet connection, and users do not have to refresh the pages every time since it accesses content directly via a URL.
  • Native-like: Modern PWAs are similar in functionality and appearance to native mobile with features like push notifications, the icon on the homepage, offline access, etc.
  • Offline capacity: PWAs work well, even without an internet connection. They leverage data cached during your last interactions with the app.
  • SEO-friendliness: Quick downloading plays a large role in the website’s position in Google’s mobile search engine. PWAs are indexed by Google and other search engines, even though working very similar to a native application. It’s an absolute plus for SEO.
  • PWAs are cheaper than other apps: Modern tech like PWAs are more affordable to develop and integrate than native mobile apps. They don’t need specific technologies, just pure javascript, HTML, and CSS.

b. PWA’s drawbacks

Every bean has its black, and PWA is no exception. It is vital to know these disadvantages to control every possibility of potential damages to your systems and prepare to minimize them so that users will own the most satisfying experience on your PWA.

  • Missing out on App Store traffic: If you develop a PWA, you are not exposed as a company in the Apple or Android app store. Apps are often found because they are visible in one of the well-known app platforms. It is, therefore, a considerable disadvantage that you cannot use this “springboard” to a broader audience.
  • Limited for scalability: It is still a challenge to develop a revenue model or advertising opportunities for PWAs. At the moment, there are fewer options than among native apps to subscribe to.
  • Unable to access some service features: Unlike native apps, these web applications have fewer features. iOS does not support all functionalities of PWAs on Apple devices. As a result, the possibilities of PWAs are limited for many users, which is a shame. In a world where the UX (user experience) is at least as necessary as the marketing of the product itself, a lack of user experience is a real loss.

3. PWA’s landscape in the future

With such capability, how long are PWAs going to keep their hype for? What is the drive behind its potentiality that is worth investing in?

a. The mobile-first world accelerates PWA integration

PWAs only emerged around five years since the boom of mobile usage, and their popularity is expected to spread even more for the next decades. This prediction is strongly backed by the tremendous growth in mobile use worldwide. According to Statista, in the third quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 50.81 percent of global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50 percent mark since the beginning of 2017. Furthermore, the eMarketer’s forecast estimates adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 43 minutes daily on mobile devices, not counting calls. These changes in users’ behaviors equal the fact that any platform now should be mobile-centric while maintaining full features as on computer browsers.

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Accelerating the mobile trends, the tech giants have stepped forward to start the mobile race for websites. Google even released a new update recently to its search algorithm: you have to be mobile-friendly, and if you refuse, the visibility of your old-fashioned site will decrease. This act has emphasized even more the importance of mobile experience and pushes PWAs to evolve faster to adapt to the swift and unprecedented changes in users’ behaviors.

Especially, retail companies have recently realized the need for mobile experience optimization since the COVID-19. It is due to the fact that shoppers carry their mobile phones everywhere, and those devices could become one of the touchpoints that could replace those lost due to the pandemic. They could send customers notifications about abandoned carts on eCommerce sites, interacting indirectly with shoppers during their visit to stores by messages without talking to store employees to limit exposure to virus spread. This new retail trend is one of the many proofs that PWA’s potential growth is huge in the future.

b. Companies are succeeding with PWAs

PWA’s power and its potential is no more a myth or prediction since there are corporations that have adopted the Progressive Web App and witness remarkable improvement in the system’s efficiency, enabling them to be on top of their niche. Let’s explore what they are and what they have accomplished with PWA.

  • Tinder

As the Tinder app is focused on mobile users using location verification to find their matching half, it is vital that they focus on optimizing the mobile experience. And the dating-app company has swiped right with its investment in PWA. After the new release, their system is now 100% available to users on both mobile and desktop.

+ The Progressive Web App is 90% smaller than their previous native app

+ The load time of Tinder has decreased from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds

+ User engagement has increased significantly

  • Trivago

This hotel booking app helps users choose the best hotel stay and service, suiting their interests and budget. Trivago has a free app for both Android and iOS. Along with the hotel search, interactive push notifications, and the accommodation details were integrated into the app for the best user experience. After adding PWA to their home screen, Trivago has seen:

+ 97% in click-outs to hotel offers

+ 67% more people returned to the app

  • Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more. When you discover pins you love, save them to boards to keep your ideas organized and easy to find. As of the third quarter of 2020, Pinterest had 442 million monthly active users worldwide. However, few people know that Pinterest’s old mobile web experience was ancient – it included large bundles of CPU-heavy JavaScript, limiting the mobile experience for users. Soon spotting the problems, Pinterest had adopted PWA to reach almost half of billions now.

+ Their core engagement has increased by 60%

+ User revenue has increased by 44%

+ 40% more time is spent on the site

Learn how to use Pinterest to market and sell products

  • Twitter

Twitter is the most prominent example of a company that succeeded by using PWA. It has 328 million monthly active users around the world who consume, create, and share information. With over 80% of users on mobile, Twitter wanted their mobile web experience to be faster, more reliable, and more engaging. The Twitter Lite Progressive Web App combines the best of the modern web and native features. It became the default mobile web experience for all users globally in April 2017. Twitter developed Twitter Lite to deliver a more robust experience, with explicit goals for instant loading, user engagement, and lower data consumption.

+ 65% increase in pages per session

+ 75% increase in Tweets sent

+ 20% decrease in bounce rate

Progressive Web Apps do indeed have some drawbacks. Still, their outstanding benefits indeed are worth investing in if you are searching for the most customer-centric mobile experience with a manageable budget. As long as mobile devices are still in operation for a while and most tech giants like Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft support it, PWAs still have so much going for them that they might seem an inevitable dominant force. And they are here to stay till the end, even beyond the mobile era.

For personalized advice and a clear outline for how to get the most out of a PWA for your business, talk to one of our experts today.

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