Web Advancement For 2022: Progressive Web Application

1. What Are PWA (Progressive Web Applications)?

The increase in the number of mobile web users in recent times has made companies make positive changes to their online strategies. With many users accessing the internet primarily via their smartphones, businesses utilize the latest technologies to improve outreach to the audience. It is an urgent requirement for companies to keep up with the changing behavior of their target audience and focus on the performance of their web assets to ensure that their audience has an excellent user experience when they visit the website.

A progressive web application is a mix of a traditional website and a mobile application. PWA takes what is best from the current technology existing in the market and combines it with UX and online web performance. It works for multiple platforms in every available browser. This unique combination of the app and website makes a comprehensive product that opens up various possibilities for web developers. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) have become the new era for mobile web as most users stay connected 24×7 through a smartphone. There has been a steady rise in the use of Progressive Web Apps by renowned brands that combine the best practices of native apps with advanced web solutions. Popular brands like Pinterest, Twitter, and Starbucks have reported an increase in their user engagement level.

  • How Does It Work?

Progressive Web Apps are built-in Application Shell. This type of structure provides really fast loading by caching and dynamically displayed content. The secret is that the majority of data, the whole application and shell is downloaded only once and stored in the app cache. Content is the only variable displayed dynamically. This procedure maximizes the user experience and decreases demand for data transfer. App performance is enhanced due to the reduction of the data which needs to be downloaded. All this finally leads to improved user experience and satisfaction. At their core, Progressive Web Apps are just web applications. Using progressive enhancement, new capabilities are enabled in modern browsers. With the aid of service workers and a web app manifest, a web application becomes reliable and installable. If the new capabilities aren’t available, users still get the original core experience.

Web Advancement For 2022: Progressive Web Application
  • Features of PWA
  1. Critical components of a PWA

The Shell Architecture

The maintenance of PWAs involves the separation of the dynamic and static content. Using an application shell structure can help cover the core elements of the design and make the application sprint up. It works well with apps having changing content and stable navigation.

Manifest JSON

This part acts as the central place to store the metadata of the PWA. It can include the URL for launching the application, its name, the icon on the home screen, etc. It allows the developer to customize how the app will be shown to the user. The developer can have complete control over the appearance of the application. Like native applications, the developer can customize splash screens too.

Service Worker

It is JavaScript that runs separately from the application and can respond to the user interactions from the pages it serves. It allows the caching of an application shell and loads the data instantly when the user visits again. The dynamic content refreshes again when the connection to the application is back. It also helps in improving the performance of the app.

In addition, it helps in maintaining the background synchronization necessary till the connections are back. The servers can send updates once the link is back. It can also send push notifications when the browser isn’t working.

The Use of TLS Protocol

Security is among the critical PWA features, and the application should be accessed over the TLS protocol. It will require the installation of an SSL certificate which is a prerequisite to working on a PWA. This forms a secure and encrypted connection between two entities. It also ensures the integrity of the data and the authenticity of the connection being established.

  • Few Critical Features

More Features than a Responsive Website

Responsive websites are a necessity as they have high SEO engagement. It also helps to enhance user experience and can be viewed seamlessly over all devices. It can provide app-like features too. The PWA has specific characteristics and does more than your responsive website. It includes features like allowing push notifications and offline capabilities, serving offline content, and providing a faster cache mechanism.

Improved Performance

When the service workers are registered, it allows control of what is being cached. This ensures an enhanced user experience for the audience. Research has shown that first paint improves with a PWA and provides an instantaneous experience for visitors. The benefit is not as pronounced for mobile users as the service worker threads are not so optimized.

Browser Compatibility

As these applications are built on the principles of progressive enhancement, they can provide the content without any bias for the type of connection or the browsers used. It can provide advanced versions of the web pages to the current browsers. The PWAs can be designed to be compatible with any device and the audience can have a complete universal experience regardless of the device they use.

Easy Access

The PWAs utilize features that are like both mobile and web apps. One of the significant benefits of this is that PWAs do not require publication on any app stores. They are readily available through search engines and are also easily shared through a URL. The installation is simple and can be installed on the device screen. They also come with automated updates.

A Mobile-First Approach

It is necessary to offer a uniform experience across all devices that ensures a higher ranking during a keyword search. The features of PWA can be built with ease and combine the benefits of a native app and a website at low costs. It allows offline work and ensures optimal experience on all the devices the website is loaded. PWA ensures the best user experience for all who look forward to revisiting a website.

Easy Installation

One of the best PWA features is that they do not require publication on any app stores. Instead, users can directly browse the websites through search engines. In addition, they can be easily accessible by installing them onto any device. Hence, it reduces the cost of developing expensive mobile apps. Apart from being serviced through web browsers, it can work on smartphones too through web browsers. They are easily installable on the device by clicking on the “Install” button. It will load the application onto the home screen, and the user can readily visit it by clicking on the icon.

Web Advancement For 2022: Progressive Web Application

2. PWA vs NWA: From Developers’ Perspective

  • How they’re written: While native apps are written to run on mobile devices, PWA is written to run inside a web browser. Native apps are developed with the programming languages of each platform (Objective-C and Swift for iOS and Java for Android), whereas, PWA uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Cost of development: Building a progressive web app is cheaper than developing a native app. In the case of the native app, developers have to build a version for each platform. This means there are at least two versions for iOS and Android, and the resources to maintain and update each version. Depending on the purpose and complexity of the app, this requires a lot of time and money. Comparatively a progressive web app is faster to build and update. Instead of developing an app from scratch, developers can configure the existing website with help from tools such as google Lighthouse. With responsive design, developers just need one version of the app, and it will display in an identical manner on all devices.
  • Distribution: With a native app, besides developing separate versions for different platforms, developers also have to submit them to different App Stores. Apple’s App Store and Android’s Play Store are the most popular, but there are also Amazon’s Appstore, Windows Store, and more. With each of these stores, certain requirements have to be fulfilled in order to get published. Sometimes there are fees involved. On the other hand, PWA bypasses the cumbersome App Store requirements. All the users need is a web browser and a URL. Many PWA features are supported by popular browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. This makes it easier for an app to reach a large audience in a short time. Developers can easily deploy updates without the need to wait for approval.
  • Discoverability: Native app pages cannot be indexed and listed in the search engine. Users can find your app through the app store or the app store’s website. There are a number of factors influencing app discoverability. Unlike Native apps, PWA works like any website so it can be indexed in search engines. Compared to normal/responsive web pages, PWA has increased performance and engagement, helping your website rank better in search results.
  • Security: PWAs are more secure than normal web apps because they have to run under HTTPS. These security protocols ensure that no exchanges between the client and the server are tampered with. In a secure environment, customers can enter personal details and credit card information without the worry they might be stolen.
  • PWA vs NWA: From Users’ Perspective
  • Download & Installation: An average mobile user installs zero apps a month. Part of this is because it requires a certain level of commitment to get to the end of the installation process and use the app. First, users have to find the app in the store and confirm that they want to install it. After that, they have to wait for the download and installation. Finally, after granting the app certain permissions, they use the app maybe once or twice before deleting them. When users uninstall an app, it is usually the final decision and they might not come back. On the other hand, a progressive web app requires no App Store or installation. From the browser, visitors can bookmark and add the app to their home screen with a few taps. The PWA will show up on the home screen, in their app directory, send notifications, and integrate into system settings.
  • Performance: Compared to a responsive or mobile site, PWA loads much faster. At the heart of any PWA is service workers, scripts that run in the background and are separate from the web page. With service workers, you can manage offline requests, prefetch, and cache certain resources, sync data with a remote server, and more. This means after adding your app to the home screen, you can load it instantly and use it offline or in poor network conditions.
  • Space saving: In addition, a progressive web app doesn’t take up as much space as an app. With just an URL, visitors can access and share the app with their friends. There’s also no need to update the app, as it always displays the most recent version upon launching.
  • When should you use PWA?

The age of the smartphone opened up a whole new window for businesses to connect with their customers in an interactive way using apps. Because apps allow customers to interact with businesses from anywhere at any time, apps quickly became popular.

However, apps are no longer as exciting to consumers as they were in the early days. This has resulted in in-app retention rates declining rapidly and, for some brands, a drastic drop in revenue has resulted.

That’s why progressive web apps are becoming increasingly popular.

Despite being limited in tapping into a device’s native capabilities, there are advantages of using progressive web apps:

  • Reliability: They can be used offline and provide a stable experience despite network conditions.
  • Security: User information is secure on PWAs as every progressive web app must have SSL certificates.
  • Speed: Thanks to caching through service workers and tapping into a device’s resources, progressive web apps offer a fast and seamless experience.
  • Engagement: PWAs integrates well with the web and devices, making them easy to interact with.

As a developer, you can use progressive apps in the same situations native apps are used—for applications you expect your visitors to visit frequently. Other times you should consider using a progressive web app are when:

  • You don’t have the budget for a full-fledged app.
  • You need to get to market fast.
  • Proper indexing on search engines is crucial.
  • Cross-platform compatibility is essential to your business.
  • You need to reach a wider audience.

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