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A Guide to Progressive Web Apps

Website owners and content writers must anticipate user needs as the globe increasingly favors mobile and on-the-go interactions. PWAs, or Progressive Web Apps, provide a middle ground between native apps and conventional websites. 

This blog post will explain what progressive web apps are, their value, and the steps necessary to build them. 

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

PWAs, or Progressive Web Applications, are cutting-edge software that brings together the advantages of web apps and standalone desktop software. A PWA is essentially a website that can do the same tasks as a mobile app but is only accessed via a web browser.

 PWAs work on any device running any web browser, independent of hardware or software. 

Why are PWAs Important For Publishers?

PWAs have a lot of features that cannot be found in native apps or conventional web apps. The fact that PWAs are available to a larger audience is among the most significant advantages. Users aren’t required to download an app from an app store. Instead, they can be accessed immediately through a web browser.

Because of this, there is no longer a requirement to design individual apps for various platforms, such as Android and iOS. In addition to this, PWAs are significantly quicker and efficient than standard web apps. 

PWAs use service workers to cache data and assets, but they also have the ability to function offline or with limited internet connectivity. The cached files and resources are stored in the browser’s local storage, which allows the PWA to function offline without needing to connect to the internet.

Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps

App TypeWhat Is It? BenefitsDisadvantages
PWA (Progressive Web Apps)Website that adopts app-like behavior ‘Add to Home’ button
 Increased engagement with website’s most loyal users
 Cost-effective
 Low install rate
 No Play Store visibility
Native appA native app designed for a specific OS (e.g., iOS/Android) AdMob monetization
 Engaging look and feel
 Google Play and App Store presence
 Costly
 Requires platform-specific language knowledge
 iOS and Play Store approvals
 No web discoverability

Characteristics of PWAs

PWAs have 6 main characteristics that make them unique:

1. Responsive

PWAs are developed to function similarly on desktop computers as they do on mobile phones. They provide a constant and natural UI regardless of the device’s screen size.

2. Installable

PWAs are web apps that users may download and install on their devices, just like regular apps. Installing a PWA typically involves adding it to the home screen or app drawer of a device for easy access.

3. Discoverable

PWAs function similarly to websites in terms of sharing and linking. PWAs are discoverable through search engines, can be shared via URLs, and can be easily bookmarked or added to the home screen of a device. This makes PWAs highly accessible and easy to find for users, without the need to download and install them from app stores.

4. Cross-Platform Compatible

PWAs are accessible from any web-enabled device, independent of its operating systems, such as desktops, smartphones, and tablets.

5. Cost-Effective

The cost of creating and maintaining a PWA is typically lower than that of a native app. Again, that’s partly because there is no need to create several versions of the app for different platforms, and it can be done using standard web development tools and skills.

Besides, PWAs do not require updates and approvals from app stores, which makes maintenance easier and more efficient.

6. Improved User Experience

With PWAs, users get a very similar user experience as they do from downloading an app, with additional features such as push notifications, offline access, and other interactive features that enhance user engagement and retention.

PWAs Examples

Popular websites have started using PWAs to boost engagement and user satisfaction. These are a few prominent ones:

1. Twitter Lite

Source: PWAStats

To help people in regions with spotty Internet service, Twitter created Twitter Lite, a progressive web app (PWA). Twitter Lite is a lightweight and speedy alternative to the full program, allowing users to access the service from any web browser. Because it is a PWA, Twitter Lite can function even when there is no network connection, making it useful in places where there is limited coverage.

Compared to the native app, Twitter Lite significantly increased user engagement, with 75% more tweets sent and a 20% lower bounce rate. Increases of 65% in pages viewed per session and 50% in session time were also seen when the PWA was installed.

2. Starbucks

Source: PWAStats

To better serve its customers, Starbucks added a PWA to their online ordering system. Users can place an order for a beverage, pay for it, and either have it delivered to their home or office or pick it up at their local Starbucks using the PWA.

The PWA substantially increased conversion rates by 60% and click-through rates by 35% compared to the native app. The initial load time of the PWA was cut by 90% thanks to its lightweight construction.

3. Pinterest

Source: Medium

Pinterest’s Progressive Web App (PWA) allowed users to more easily access and utilize the platform thanks to the PWA’s streamlined interface and offline availability.

Pinterest saw a significant boost in user engagement (by 60%), time spent on the site (by 40%), and user-generated ad income (by 44%) after implementing their PWA strategy. The PWA was successful because of its user-friendly design, increased website loading speed, and wider availability.

Altogether, these case studies highlight the positive effects of adopting a PWA based on metrics like user engagement, conversion, and satisfaction.

Why Use Progressive Web Apps?

The use of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) is on the rise among enterprises and website owners. There are 3 key benefits of using PWAs:

  • Improved User Engagement

PWAs boast speed, responsiveness, and simplicity. They help keep users on your website even when they aren’t actively using it by providing functions like offline access and push notifications. These features can enhance user engagement by providing a familiar and immersive experience similar to native apps, which can lead to increased usage and user retention.

  • Faster Page Loading Times

PWAs’ ability to load swiftly even on sluggish internet connections is one of its main benefits. One of the ways they achieve superior performance compared to standard web apps is through caching techniques that store files, resources, and data locally on the user’s device, which allows for quicker retrieval of content without the need to fetch it from the server every time.

  • Increased Conversions

By streamlining the process of completing actions like making a purchase or filling out a form, PWAs can boost conversions. Moreover, PWAs often utilize features like auto-fill and one-click payments. This can aid businesses in attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, raising a site’s search engine results, and boosting brand loyalty.

Resources for Building PWAS

There are many resources and tools available to help with building PWAs. 4 most popular ones include:

  1. Google’s Lighthouse – A tool that helps with performance monitoring and auditing.
  2. Workbox – A set of libraries that helps with building offline functionality of PWAs.
  3. PWA Builder – A platform that provides resources for building PWAs.
  4. Ionic – A framework for building cross-platform PWAs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building PWAs

Avoiding these pitfalls can help the success of your PWA.

1. Not optimizing for performance

The quality of a user’s experience with a PWA is directly related to its speed and responsiveness. So, how do you make it run fast? Images, videos, and other media should be optimized, resources can be compressed, and the use of external libraries and scripts can be kept to a minimum. Loading times can be decreased and data usage lowered with the help of methods like lazy loading and caching.

2. Ignoring user engagement

To maximize conversions and user retention, PWAs should be created with the user’s experience and engagement in mind. This includes making sure the app runs well on mobile devices, has a user-friendly interface, and has features that will keep people using it. User research and feedback should be collected continuously during the creation of progressive web applications.

3. Forgetting to test across different devices and platforms

Universal compatibility between devices and operating systems is essential for the success of PWAs. You need to test your PWA on different devices and platforms, as this will help identify any device-specific issues. You also need to test your PWA under different network conditions, as this will help identify areas where you can optimize the performance of your PWA, such as implementing offline support or optimizing network requests.,

Implementing Progressive Web Apps

Now that you know what PWAs are and why they’re significant, let’s get into how to implement them on your site.

How to implement PWAs on a website

  1. Create a web app manifest with your PWA’s name, icon, theme color, and starting URL in JSON format. Web app manifests can be created manually or with Web App Manifest Generator.

  2. Service worker registration: Deploy a JavaScript service worker to manage to cache, push alerts, and offline capabilities. Set up a service worker manually or with Workbox.

  3. Homescreen: Customers can bookmark your PWA on their home screen after installing it. Banners and popups can encourage PWA bookmarking.

Resources and tools that can help with implementing PWAs

  1. Workbox: Google’s Workbox provides developers with convenient libraries and tools for creating PWAs. Several useful features including caching, offline access, and push alerts are built in.

  2. PWA Builder: Microsoft’s PWA Builder is a useful tool for developing and testing progressive web apps. There’s also a service worker generator and a device-testing utility for your PWA.

How to test and optimize PWAs for better performance

  1. Test the performance: Conduct performance testing using tools like Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, or WebPageTest to evaluate the performance of your PWA.

  2. Utilize caching: Utilize caching techniques to store files, resources, and data locally on the user’s device to enable quicker retrieval of content and improve performance. Implement offline support to allow users to access content even without an active internet connection, using techniques like service workers and caching strategies.

  3. Optimize your code: This is done by minimizing file sizes, leveraging lazy loading, and optimizing images and other assets. Use minification techniques to reduce the size of JavaScript, CSS, and other files, and implement lazy loading to load resources only when needed to improve performance.

End Note

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) offer several advantages, including faster performance, offline accessibility, and improved user engagement.

Publishers looking to enhance their online presence and improve user engagement should consider leveraging the benefits of PWAs. By optimizing performance through techniques like caching, code optimization, and responsive design, publishers can create fast and responsive PWAs that offer offline accessibility and improved user engagement.

About Alise Zaiceva
Alise is a content marketing manager at Setupad. She’s passionate about content and helping publishers scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. In her free time, she expands her knowledge of tech.

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