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The web development environment has rapidly transformed with an increased demand for more scalable and cross-platform web and enterprise applications in the ever-changing market equilibrium. To help enterprises address their business needs and connect with the customers using a range of devices and platforms seamlessly, legacy web apps have made way for progressive web apps (PWAs) that allow easy access to the mobile users.
Progressive web apps use modern web capabilities to deliver a reliable, fast, and engaging user experiences on their preferred devices and platforms. PWAs also provide personalisation and caching capabilities, which ensures faster loading time and less data usage. These apps are developed once and can be deployed wherever required.
Multiple surveys indicate that progressive web apps are used by over 11.5 million users as compared to just 4 million native app users across the globe. It has also been predicted that the presence of a progressive web app will eventually eliminate the need for a dedicated native mobile app in the coming time.
There are two ways of deploying a progressive web app—ship the app to an app store or host it on a web server. Several organisations functioning in the social media and hospitality space are increasingly making a shift towards progressive web apps.
Social media sharing platform, Pinterest, has reportedly leveraged progressive web apps to increase core engagement of their users by 60%. The platform also increased the duration of each user visit by 40%. Likewise, online travel and hospitality marketplace, Trivago, was able to boost user engagement by 150% by adopting a progressive web app.
Below are seven key factors that make progressive web apps a cornerstone of future web development:
The enablement of improved and automated updates including automatic bug fixing and patch or update deployment without contacting the app store guarantees timely system updates. It also eliminates the need to write distinct versions of the same patch for both Android and iOS platforms.
Conventional web apps use the HTTP protocol whereas progressive web apps use the HTTPS protocol. The main difference between these two protocols is the “S” in HTTPS, which stands for secure. Data transferred between systems is encrypted and commonly viewed as the very minimum level of security you can offer to your visitors.
- App Shell Architecture
An app shell or application shell architecture is a way to build PWAs that instantly load on the users’ screens, similar to native applications. The app-shell model splits application logic from content. This shell-driven segregation of content offers users rich functionality, native-like app experience, and seamless transition between views. Further, content is cached and rendered on repeat visits irrespective of connectivity.
- User Engagements
The link-adding feature of PWAs allows the app to be cached enabling the users to access the app from their home screen. Progressive web apps give developers the ability to control the way an app renders and launches itself on the mobile device. Several other parameters such as screen orientation, home page, and choice of the browser can be customised by the users. Furthermore, user-generated data enables decision-makers to track specific buying trends or overall consumer behaviour, which ensures that they see what they want to buy.
- Hybrid Functionality
PWAs take the midway approach between a mobile apps and mobile websites. The hybrid functionality of progressive web apps offers a real-time value-added experience while using shopping carts, payment gateways, etc., which run in a distributed and multi-user environment.
- Memory Management
Traditional web apps occupy a lot of storage space. However, progressive web apps pre-cache content so that they can load instantly on the device the next time it is accessed. Therefore, there is minimum impact on memory, irrespective of the number of progressive web apps installed on a single device. This efficient memory management results in PWAs that deliver smooth scrolling, animations and navigation, thus providing native-like app experience to the users.
Progressive Web Apps: Making the Cut
Although native apps resolve some of the issues such as lack of user experience (UX), they come with their own baggage – high cost of ownership, regular update needs, platform irregularities and search index-ability. Progressive web apps have added a new dimension to web development as they have the potential to combine mobile reach with native app engagement. More and more companies are making the switch from native apps to PWAs for delivering differentiated user experiences and maximise outreach. Gartner predicts that PWAs will replace 50% of mobile apps by 2020. Brands such as Twitter, Uber, and Forbes have also made the transition to PWAs. And then there’s also a growing collection of case studies that indicate how PWAs impact marketing KPIs including conversions, engagement, revenue and leads.