Why Progressive Web Apps? – What are the benefits?

What is a PWA?

Progressive web app desktop

Let’s discuss Progressive Web Apps from a non-technical perspective.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs seem to be unsure of what a Progressive Web App is and how it can be of value.

Some businesses strive to launch their product with the best technology available. Others want a technology that is reasonable and affordable.

So, is a Progressive Web App something you need? Well, in order to make that decision, it is important to know exactly what a PWA is, and, how it differs from what you know already.

Simply put, a progressive web app is a website/web application that behaves like an app. It exhibits similar behaviour to a mobile application in its styling, interactions as well as its functionality.

However, a PWA is not a particular unit of technology. In fact, it is rather a series of recommended development practises that increase the capabilities of a web application to rival a mobile application.

The end goal is for the web application to mimic an app you may have acquired from the app store. 

One of the most attractive qualities of a PWA is that it doesn’t require an installation process. The user can navigate to a website and instantly consume information in a mobile app experience.

Show me examples

Progressive web apps are currently being adapted in the industry. Some great examples are:

For a more comprehensive list you can check here.

Also, something to note is that this site is also a webapp. Have you noticed the fast loading times when navigating between pages? It certainly makes for a better user experience.

What are the benefits?

PWA benefits

Offline mode

Offline mode is perhaps the most advantageous benefit. PWAs allow the user to browse the app offline. This is the biggest differentiation between a PWA and a static website. Think of how valuable a PWA can be where internet speeds are unreliable. We’re all familiar with these kinds of frustrations in areas with limited internet access, such as airports or rural regions.

Accessibility to your app will dramatically improve, increasing the value of the product launch.  

User Retention

Users enjoy fluid and seamless experiences. They tend to stick around when interacting with an interface that is swift and easy to navigate. PWAs are optimised to be as fast as possible and, as a result, create a user experience that is far better than their website counterparts.

A lot of this, of course, is still determined by the design of the application. However, a PWA will still have noticeable speed improvements whether or not it uses good UX principles.

Ease of use

Perhaps an overlooked benefit is the lack of an installation of a web app. One of the biggest barriers to a user consuming an application is having to go out of their way to actually install it.

 

Functionality

As previously stated, a PWA behaves like a mobile app. This means that it can send the user push notifications in their browser. As result of this, user engagement increases and the overall vision of a product changes as it adapts to this extra functionality. 

Having a feature like push notifications opens up a new channel of communication between the product and user that wasn’t there before.

Are they worth it?

The development of a PWA will incur a significantly higher cost than a normal website. It is therefore important to know that the advantages outweigh this investment.

A PWA really sets your business or product apart from competition by providing the user with an experience they can’t get from a website.

The familiarity experienced by user previously using native apps on their mobile devices will carry over to a PWA.

The removal of an installation step should not be overlooked. This inconvenience is often the only obstacle between converting a prospective client and potentially losing them forever.

For this reason alone, I’d advise using the latest web technologies to boost your business or product.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.

 

Gareth Dunne

Full Stack Developer and creator of JSdiaries. Passionate about the latest in web technologies and how it can provide value for my clients.