Progressive Web Apps: What they are and why you should care
PROGRESSIVE Web Apps (PWAs) are the future because they do the two things that matter the most to users today: provide an awesome experience, and work even when network connectivity is poor or lost.
The rise of PWAs
Over the past year or so, PWAs have been getting the attention they deserve. The technology made headlines when Twitter Lite launched as a PWA last year.
As a result, the social media platform achieved a 65 percent increase in pages per session, a 75 percent increase in Tweets sent, and a 20 percent decrease in bounce rates.
A Google case study quoted Nicolas Gallagher, the Engineering Lead for Twitter Lite: “Twitter Lite is now the fastest, least expensive, and most reliable way to use Twitter. The web app rivals the performance of our native apps but requires less than 3 percent of the device storage space compared to Twitter for Android.”
Twitter Lite sees 75% increase in tweets with new PWA and reduces Data usage. Read all about it 👉 https://t.co/ihi3N0cIAN
— Chrome Developers (@ChromiumDev) May 17, 2017
Since then, PWAs have come a long way – and in 2018, PWAs are all set to take over the world. But what is a PWA? It’s a mobile app that works from a browser and doesn’t need to be installed.
Not only that, PWAs provide a full screen experience. They look and feel just like native or regular mobile apps – with an icon neatly sitting on your home screen and push-notification capabilities.
Thanks to help from ‘service workers’, PWAs work even if users are offline or on low-quality networks.
Given their rising popularity and growing demand, browsers such as Apple Safari and Firefox Mozilla have announced support for PWAs (which is important since these apps run via browsers).
The more the web can do, the better off we’ll be.
PWAs are coming to Firefox for Android! 📱🌐 https://t.co/7rnri3qgMH
— Firefox 🔥 (@firefox) January 30, 2018
Service workers and the magic of connectivity
A service worker is a snippet of code, a script that runs in the background and helps a PWA function. It’s one of its critical building blocks. Service workers help PWAs do things like send notifications to users and stay up-to-date;
Service workers help provide an engaging experience while offline and ensures your application loads quickly.
So, do you need one? And why?
Well, the Internet is of the opinion that you need PWAs to make life easier for customers. The Google case study on Twitter Lite showed extraordinary results, and while those might not be replicated easily, you’re sure to provide a better experience if your business offers a PWA.
PWAs are usually inexpensive to build and in many cases, existing websites can be upgraded to a PWA. In India, for example, Book My Show, a popular ticketing website, revamped itself to become a PWA.
An article in the Economic Times reported that BookMyShow had witnessed an 80 percent increase in its conversion rates, and the revenue contribution of mobile web to the company’s topline has increased dramatically since it launched its PWA.
Make My Trip, an Indian travel booking site, found that their PWA helped them get 3X improvement in conversion rates, 38 percent improvement in page load times, and 160 percent increase in shopper sessions, according to another case study by Google.
So, the short answer to the first question is, yes, you need a PWA, especially if you deal with your customers on the Internet. Why? Because you want to win a share of your customer’s heart and not just their wallet – and to do that, you need to provide a great user experience, irrespective of the network conditions.