What is a Progressive Web App and Why do I Need One?

A progressive web app uses emerging technologies and increased support to bring app-like functionality to existing modern websites. This means newer browsers support things like push notifications, app installation, custom splash screens, offline storage and many other things that typically required a custom app. Recent support has increased dramatically with Microsoft launching support for Progressive Web Apps and the iOS 11.3 update added support for Progressive web apps for iPhone. This now means that you can deploy a progressive web app strategy with support for Windows, iOS and Android.

A Progressive Web App is built with progressive enhancement in mind. That means that your site or app will behave as expected on most browsers with a number of app-like enhancements for modern browsers.

There are a number of reasons to pursue a Progressive Web Application Strategy. They all add up to a faster better user experience, increased engagement, higher conversion for transactional sites, and potentially lower total cost.

 

Increased Engagement

Repeat visitors can be prompted to install the app to the home screen directly from the site. This is more relevant to an audience than users in a more traditional app store environment. The potential for adoption of these relevant users should be greater.

Push notifications can be served directly from the Web app. This can alert users to things like shipment notifications, offers or any other relevant content.

Faster

When built correctly, a Progressive Web App should load fast and offer an app-like experience. This can be achieved through optimization of existing code or adopting a new front end platform like Angular, React or Vue.js. The team at ZaneRay has active projects using all three of these architectures.

A Progressive Web App also allows the device to cache specific content. Users that have installed the app will see it load immediately for a faster-perceived load time. Increased speed results directly in increased conversion. The calculator here:

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/

One Codebase for All Platforms

Similar to the way that responsive design eliminated the need for different mobile and desktop sites, Progressive Web Applications further consolidate a website’s code. A mobile app for iOS, Android, as well as a website, may all be consolidated into one Web Application that can be delivered to all devices. This should reduce complexity, redundancy and make development efforts more efficient.

What Now?

A Progressive Web Application meets a specific set of criteria. Google has a Progressive Web App Checklist (https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps/checklist) and it is also part of Google’s Lighthouse performance test (https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse/). Progressive Web Application status may have an effect on Search Engine Ranking in the future. Many of the items on the Progressive Web App Checklist like Responsive Design and HTTPS are part of the existing ZaneRay workflow but there are a couple new features we highly recommend adopting. For more information on how to make your site meet Progressive Web Application guidelines contact us.

Side Note: What is a SPA?

A Single Page Application or SPA is web application built on a single page that dynamically updates the view with javascript instead of a request that loads a new page. This results in a faster more app-like experience. Single Page Applications are typically built using a modern front-end javascript framework like React, Vue,js or Angular.

ZaneRay Can Help

This is all new to everyone, but ZaneRay has hit the ground running with PWAs. In 2017 we launched one of the first major store-fronts to deploy an eCommerce PWA & SPA at https:/m.orvis.com and we haven't look back. We are now working on projects to turn most of our sites into PWAs, and would love to help you with your project! Give us a call if you need help, we are happy to lend a hand in any fashion that fits with your team.

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