Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design | Their Key Benefits

There’s a great reason why Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design is a must for webmasters willing to raise their bars high. For one thing, it improves the target customer experiences while converting them into quality consumers. Many shoppers still look to online options as their first point of inquiry. The thing that is changing in this experience is the move to mobile devices. Though desktop computers aren’t going anywhere, mobile shopping is on the rise.

As such, businesses need to meet this growing demand. Of course, building out a mobile app isn’t always the best option. For some businesses, measuring key performance indicators and sales goals on mobile apps means stressing over a completely separate platform than your website.

What Are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

In reality, desktop use might still be your primary point of sale for online shoppers. But, what if you don’t want a completely separate app experience? Businesses are increasingly turning to progressive web apps (PWAs), a feature for websites that really kicked off just over five years ago.

What Are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the next generation of Javascript-based web technologies. At their core, PWAs are web applications based on standard web technologies — but with the addition of the newest JavaScript features. Making them feel and function like native Android or iOS apps.

The “P” stands for “progressive”. First, as odd as it might initially sound, it means that the feature set of the application expands with the user using it. Secondly, it means you can’t really rely on a feature being present for the application to work correctly.

Instead, you need to progressively enhance the application based on the capabilities of the user’s phone and operating system. And the way that they progressively enhance behind the scenes, chances are that you are already using a number of PWAs today without noticing it.

In short, a Progressive Web App, or PWA for short, is a web application with a few added bells and whistles. Meaning, it’s a way to write a web application that provides you a few hooks into the operating system that you ordinarily don’t have.

Are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Different From Websites?

Well, they’re a little bit of both. Whereby, from a designer’s perspective, building a PWA is similar to building a web app. But, from the user’s perspective, it might as well be a native app. As will be discussed, this approach has a lot of advantages.

PWA is not really a thing of its own, at least not in the same way that you could say that an “Android app” is a thing. But rather, it’s a collection of web-based technologies stringed together with a fancy name. Together this collection of technologies makes web pages look, feel and behave more like natively installed applications.

Technically, one of the most important differences between Progressive Web Apps and websites is the way PWAs are distributed. Because PWAs are technically web apps, there’s no need to visit an app store. Meaning, users simply click the Add to home screen button in their web browser.

As an example,  Forbes MagazineTwitter, and Africa’s leading eCommerce company, Jumia, are just a few companies taking the lead with developing PWAs. Therefore, blending mobile and web is a game-changer in the industry. And can lead to astonishing business results — making this a can’t-miss technology for retailers.

What Makes PWAs So Great?

Firstly, one of their main goals is to offer an app-like experience on the mobile version of a website. While native apps have their benefits, many businesses find the progressive web apps design to offer a slew of solutions. More so, that solves the need to address the mobile revolution. With PWA, businesses can offer a high-performance experience like native apps.

On the other hand, as the case is with WebRTC, they work pretty much everywhere with a browser – after all, they are just web pages. In that case, the user doesn’t have to download anything, they can just start using them. Secondly, PWA can dramatically reduce the application size. But, how?

Well, since you do not need to embed a browser, most of the runtime code is already installed on the clients. This means the size of a minimal WebRTC application can be measured in kilobytes, even including UI libraries. The PWA version appearing in weighs a measly 200 kilobytes.

And with React and related libraries taking up 3/4 of the file size we could probably do a lot to reduce that further. For comparison, the desktop Skype client is 54 megabytes and even larger on Android and iOS. Your phone probably has more gigabytes of storage than you know what to do with.

And your data plan might make downloading huge apps a non-issue, this is not at all true for all countries and users. Thirdly, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design lets you rely on the security of the browser. You can say all about web browser security – but I still trust the large teams at Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple.

More so, in order to fix security issues quickly more than I trust pretty much any other app developer to do the same.

Why Choose Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design?

Eventually, one of jmexclusives biggest challenges has been providing consistent, reliable support across platforms. For most apps, especially those that started on the web, this generally means developing a native or hybrid mobile app. In addition to supporting the web app.

Consider the following; in the screenshot below, you’ll notice the “add to home screen” button. That’s a surefire sign that you’re looking at a PWA. A Progressive Web Apps (PWA) home screen design for WebRTC (Trond Kjetil Bremnes).

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design Homescreen

Notably, iPhone app developers have long debated what sort of app development cycle is most effective for both users and clients. Progressive web apps offer numerous benefits that really point to the key reasons users shop on mobile devices in the first place.

Rather than create a native app you download to your device, PWAs exist online as a website but come with a ton of cool perks. With that in mind, below are some of the primary reasons a business might want to consider these tools.

1. Instant Load Times

PWAs come with an immediate perk user realization from the moment they interact with one: instant load times. Thanks to device caches, PWAs can offer the users almost instantaneous responses to their clicks and pushes of the finger.

By storing data in the mobile users’ device like a normal website often does, the PWA is able to avoid load times and provide quick and easy access to what the user is looking for. Considering that 1 in 4 users leave a site if they wait for more than four seconds, this is huge. 

2. Offline Accessibility

Remember how those data caches can make a progressive web application fast? They’re also able to allow users to use a PWA in offline mode. This allows users to browse the site even without internet access. It’s a lot like an app that doesn’t need a connection to reach pages or complete the tasks the user sets out to do.

Any actions that might require a connection can be done once access is back to the device, and if the user did anything that might speed up the process once internet is restored, the cache can report to the PWA what the user was up to in order to seamlessly get them going like normal again.

3. Easy and Painless Payments

Progressive web applications can use all of the features of a normal website. This includes web payments that allow users to use auto-fill data to complete purchases faster. Sort of convenient if you ask us. If you have users who store card information as well for payments, they can simply utilize those saved fill-ins at the push of a finger.

4. Push Notifications

I also want to specifically mention push notifications. For WebRTC applications, in particular, push notifications are a powerful way for pulling people into conversations. So, I recommend investing time into getting them right.

Peter Beverloo has created a great tool for testing out the capabilities of push notifications. Thus, I highly recommend you play around with it. That site will let you experiment and figure out which features work on what device or browser.

5. Homescreen Connectivity

On your home screen, you probably have a bunch of icons that instantly connect you to an app. With a progressive web app, you can actually allow users to create that same home screen shortcut to allow easy access to your website.

This will provide your audience with the same “always present” presence of your business on their device and speed up the sales process while you’re at it. With a PWA, you can also dictate how the icon and color scheme look for users, adding in an extra level of customizability.

Why Users Love Progressive Web Apps

In reality, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design is a new concept that promises to unify the web for many applications. By allowing web-based apps to look and act like native mobile ones. Without introducing an intermediary hybrid framework. Always remember, PWAs are not restricted to mobile, smartphone use.

Most of the steps you take to make an awesome PWA are likely of value to a desktop application too. Just because you are sitting in front of a “proper” computer does it mean that you do not want a fast, instantly loading, and performant user experience.

Unlike Electron apps, whose value proposition is quite similar, users can ship web applications to users’ desktops without bundling an entire instance of the Chromium browser. Again, this means that instead of measuring the application download size in the hundreds of megabytes, they can probably slim it down to being a few hundred kilobytes.

In addition, by sharing a common browser engine you should see a smaller memory footprint than you would with a dedicated Chromium instance for each and every application. By now, it’s quite obvious that you’ve probably used a PWA and not even realized it. That said, you might be able to pick out a PWA based on these features that users love.

Reliability

Thanks to the offline features and speed of a PWA, many users find the experience to be more reliable than a native app that crashes, needs updates, and requires other little intricacies that slow down the actual use of the app. 85% of Americans own a mobile device, and with a million and one apps and web apps available to them, they’re only going to want to use the ones they can rely on.

Secure Experiences

PWAs utilize the same web security standards that traditional websites use. That means that they inherently use stronger security features than native apps. Things like HTTPS, encrypted browsing, and protection software for things like passwords and customer info provide users a sense of security when they use a PWA. It makes a huge difference, especially as so many people each year have their identity or information stolen.

Performance

When programming web apps for smartphones you’ll have to pay extra attention to performance. Fortunately, many of today’s more popular devices are specced way better than laptops of yesteryear. However, these devices are also thermally throttled and any performance bottlenecks will hit you tenfold.

This requires you to make sure you test on real devices – do not get fooled by device emulators and simulators. For instance, Chrome Dev Tools does have many knobs and dials to kickstart your journey. But, emulating throttling is never as real as a proper phone.

Versatility

With so many people entering the mobile device market each year, there’s a need to be on mobile devices. That said, a native app doesn’t feature the same solutions you can achieve with a progressive web application. Across all of these various benefits and perks to the platform, you can find a lot of versatility in a PWA. 

Taking time to explore options for developing a progressive web application will yield businesses a variety of tools and resources they can use to make the most out of the mobile audience. After 2020, the already growing mobile user base boomed faster than experts expected and it’s time to make good use of the technology everyone is relying on more and more each year.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Design Strategy

The ability to add web pages to a phone’s home screen has been with us for as long as smartphones have had web browsers. Bearing in mind, this was the only way for a user to add new applications to the phone on the first iPhone. But, this rarely used feature has been evolving since then to become much more than a simple bookmark.

When a web application fulfills a set number of heuristics, browsers will take notice, and start nudging the user to “install” the web app as a PWA. This installation upsell differs quite a bit from browser to browser. For instance, Chrome will present a pop-up, while Samsung Internet will have a noticeable badge that the user can click too.

This provides the user with a clue that this is not a mere document, but a full-fledged web application. Getting started with developing a PWA is quite simple – the hard part is getting WebRTC up and running. To build a progressive web application, you’ll need to know two key concepts.

Consider the following:
  1. Web App Manifest
  2. Service Worker

These two bits are the two key pieces of technology that make a PWA a PWA. Additionally, the page needs to be served over HTTPS (note that this requirement is relaxed for localhost). Ideally, it should also be performant. And then again, it should be responsive and work well on a variety of screen sizes and devices.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’ve already gotten down the web part of this task and have a working application ready. If not then are plenty of other guides on this that will guide you towards that goal. One such guide is about turning your WebRTC web app into a PWA so to say. Learn also about building a PWA-ready team in detail.

But, if you’ll need more support, you can always Contact Us and let us know how we can sort you out.  You can also share your opinion thoughts, suggestions, contributions, recommendations, or questions in our comments section.

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