(R)evolution in the mobile market
Nowadays, 2/3 of Internet activity comes from tablets and smartphones, which have long since ceased to be just a means of communication and have become a tool for everyday shopping and information. Users are increasingly demanding. What matters most is speed and functionality. That is why engineers from Google, guided by these features, developed the so-called progressive web applications (PWA). It is not without reason that they are called breakthrough applications on the mobile market by experts. Danny Ryback from Leo Burnett agency predicts that PWA means the beginning of the end of typical applications. In this article, I will try to prove that this is true.
What is Progressive Web Apps?
Using modern web capabilities and extensive browser functions, we can create the so-called progressive web application and transfer the impressions, so far reserved only for mobile native applications, into a world of projects accessible only through a web browser. Why a progressive web application? Progressive because it uses the latest development solutions, the application because it is illusionally similar to the one downloaded from Play or Apple Store, and the web application because everything is handled by the browser without the need to install additional software.
Thanks to the so-called progressive enhancement technology, the application is always up-to-date and gains new functionalities as soon as it is opened without the need for manual updating by the recipients. The principle of operation is very simple: a user entering the site receives a message that the site can be saved on the desktop of his phone. At the same time, its content is saved on the device, which contributes to the extension of functionality and acceleration of operation. Everything is done in an automated way through strictly developed communication between the mobile device and the website. And this almost immediately turns into a full-screen application, without the needless URL bar, as in a web browser.
Shopping without access to the Internet
All mobile versions of websites, work only online, content loads very slowly. This results in a higher number of customer cancellations, which in turn translates into a lower conversion rate. Thanks to the use of the latest technology and the benefits of browsers, we are able to serve content to customers who are cut off from the Internet through Service Workers. When the connection is very weak or there is a temporary lack of Internet access, the application will be ready to display the content at any time. Searching and browsing products on the plane offline, without access to the Internet? With PWA, this is possible. But that's not all. The ability to browse resources without access to the Internet is just one of the features of this technology.
The main advantage of progressive web applications is that there is no need to maintain applications on all platforms (web browser, mobile browser, Android, iOS, Windows Mobile). We gain primarily a lower cost of maintaining the application by developing only one without the need to hire developers duplicating work for other platforms. From the UX point of view - thanks to PWA we get very fast delivery of the most important elements of the user interface and a friendly welcome screen, which can be modified according to our preferences.
It is safe to say that PWA is a mixture of a native application and a mobile website, which is why it is so popular because it has the best features. For the end user, non-progressive web applications are practically no different from the native ones, which are very expensive to develop and maintain, and which require additional downloads from the store. After visiting the site, the application is available for use almost immediately. Its advantages, which can be seen immediately, are above all: fast operation through maximum use of cache, responsiveness, i.e. matching to any device, and impressive animations when moving between pages. The PUSH notification function, which is successfully used in many native applications even when the page is closed, is responsible for increasing the involvement of application users. HTTPS is responsible for the security of data exchange between the user's device and the application, which is one of the foundations of the application structure to maintain a secure connection.
No wonder that mobile apps have been so popular so far are beginning to be dethroned by progressive web apps with so many great features, not to mention mobile websites, which have definitely had their best years behind them. Google engineers - the main initiators and advocates of technology - agree on an innovative approach to app design and say with one voice: "In our company, we're working hard to improve the way the web works today and build a better internet in the future. As a result, we are entering a new era of web development that leads to innovative technologies such as PWA".
Technology of the future??
PWA will be particularly useful on websites where content often changes, such as information portals, but also online shops. Notifications give the possibility to track changes in product prices, their availability and even inform the user about the status of the order. It can also be successfully used if our application is designed so that customers return to it often, and thanks to the appropriate configuration of the application, it is possible to prepare a scenario for which a customer visiting the site earlier will be informed about a new promotion covering the product range on a segmented basis for each user. The application of such solutions will certainly help to support marketing movements of many companies.
The best example that shows real effects is the AliExpress online store, which at the time of switching to PWA increased the conversion of targets for new users by as much as 104%, praising the capabilities of Progressive Web applications, to which satisfied implementers were successfully joined by a company known for its logo of a quarter bird. After the introduction of the PWA version by Twitter on their website, the reports speak for a profit of up to 65% in terms of the number of pages opened for each user session. Another example of great use of PWA capabilities, namely better storage in the user's browser and then serving the data is the Nigerian online sales site Konga.com, which limited the sending of requests to the server, and thus during the first loading, the site gained 92% in speed. If you're still thinking about choosing the right technology for your application, it's worth answering the question: will I need native features in Android, iOS such as NFC payment module or access to user contacts (which are not yet available for PWA)? If not, the decision is very simple. Choose Progressive Web Application and you will see its advantages. If you already have a website or mobile application, think about introducing PWA as well.
By choosing a PWA, you increase the audience for whom your application will work faster, smoother, be resistant to network problems, and even adjust its appearance to the device. To sum up, the PWA concept itself is the future of the mobile world. The future, which is in the colors of mobile applications and everything seems to indicate that one of the best realizations of the saying "write once, run everywhere" will be just Progressive web applications.