Knowledge Centre

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) – a happy medium between web and mobile apps

Technological innovations are constantly changing user experience with alterations in the design of various products and services. To deliver the best to their consumers, leading businesses keep an eye out for new technologies that can improve customer experience. The surge in the usage of smartphones opened up two options for users to browse content – one through native mobile applications and the other through mobile web browsers. However, both options have their limitations. Progressive Web Apps were introduced as a solution to these challenges. As the mobile application, a download was required along with some hardware and network requirements to function smoothly. The slow process disrupted usage for customers in areas with lesser bandwidth. On the other hand, web browsers couldn’t match the user experience provided by native apps.

Coined by Google in 2015, the “Progressive Web App” is a user-centric solution that combines the best of web and mobile apps for an optimized digital experience. When you consider a native app it is associated with being reliable and highly functional with varying features. The advantage of web apps is in terms of their reach.  PWA stands somewhere in between the two and brings features, functionality, and reach together.  In simple terms, it facilitates a faster experience with added functionality and storage to enable offline use. 

Take a look at some of the characteristics that show why PWA is worth giving a whirl.  

  • Audience reach: It is supported by all major web browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Firefox for Android, and Microsoft Edge. It is available regardless of the location or browser you are using. 
  • Responsive: It allows you to create a digital experience for all devices. It can fit in all  – mobile, tablets, and laptops. 
  • Installations: The installation process of PWA adds to the easy availability and better accessibility of the technology specifically in locations with slow or poor network connectivity.  
  • Discoverability: Finding PWA on search engines is quite easy. While mobile devices rely on app optimization for becoming discoverable, PWAs need to search engine optimization (SEO) to appear on results.
  • Engagement: The technology can also contribute to enhancing customer engagement due to its app-like interface. Apart from that, push notifications help communicate information to users and are also considered an effective way to retain users. 

Cross Platform Solutions

It is undeniable that technology has advanced and that cross-platform apps have enabled businesses to reach a wider range of customers. You can learn more about mobile application development here.

Apart from cross-platform mobile apps, PWA is a viable cross-platform solution that achieves similar objectives in an optimized manner. While the web applications deliver similar to the native app experience, in essence, these are cross-platform due to their dependence on browsers and availability across devices regardless of the platform. These capabilities like notifications, media access, or Bluetooth access often rely on the features supported by the web browser. This dependence can also be considered the downside of the app as some browsers may restrict users from using certain features of the application. The inability to access certain components like contacts, messages, or calls can have a negative effect in terms of engagement.

 Despite its few shortcomings, PWAs are becoming popular among e-commerce businesses. One of the world’s largest eCommerce companies- Alibaba Group launched its PWA for a faster and more reliable shopping experience. The company saw a boost in conversions and re-engagement post the introduction of the new PWA. Many other big names like George.com, UK meds, and Flipkart are also leveraging the technology to offer an enhanced customer experience. 

Why Progressive Web Apps work so well for eCommerce businesses?

One major reason for this is its easy discoverability by search engines. PWAs are promoted like a website by search engine optimization. With the help of an effective digital marketing strategy and the assistance of a professional SEO expert– the visibility of the application can be boosted. 

Apart from visibility in search results and a fine user experience, progressive web application brings the flexibility of shopping from anywhere. Customers do not have to download, install or check the compatibility of the application on their device. The experience is least affected by low connectivity thanks to website caching. In addition, a custom offline page can also be added when users attempt to visit a URL that hasn’t been cached or requires a connection. This ensures that a general blank or offline page is never displayed in a PWA.  

In summary, PWA is a budget-friendly alternative fast and reliable for a simple application that allows interaction with users through notifications and simplistic features. Businesses can utilize search engine optimization to expand their reach and build a brand that offers an effortless shopping experience.

Looking to take your business to the next level with technology? Get in touch with WEBSTEP consultants to find the right path that helps you achieve business success.