Progressive Web Apps And The Changing Face Of The Mobile Experience

In the smartphone-dominated world, building a superior mobile experience is no longer a nice-to-have feature. With three billion smartphone users worldwide, businesses of all kinds have to adjust to the latest trends and mobile-friendly technologies, including Progressive Web Applications. 

The PWA technology, introduced by Google in 2015, is likely to replace native apps in the foreseeable future. According to the Recorde Agency, the go-go growth days of native applications are in the past. The fact is that people no longer want to buy and download massive applications to use them once or twice a month. 

As for PWAs, they are designed to provide an app-like UX inside a web browser. In fact, it is an interesting symbiosis of a native app and a responsive website. Thus, on the one side, they look exactly like standard application downloaded from App Store or Google Play, but on the other, they have all the benefits of websites: they are available from all browsers, discoverable by search engines, incredibly fast, secure, and don’t have to be downloaded from the stores. 

Let’s take a closer look at PWAs, what they bring to the table, and how they have changed the face of the mobile experience. 

Progressive Web Apps

What is Progressive Web Apps?

To put it simply, PWA is a software development methodology that gives a website an app-like UX while accessing it on a browser. Basically, progressive apps can work on any gadget like a regular site, however, when a user switches to a more advanced device, they will experience the progressive UX.

Have you ever noticed a strange “Add to Home Screen” message when browsing certain websites?

If you click on it, you will see a shortcut appear right on the home screen of your device (as if you downloaded something from an app store). Yet the website sits bookmarked alongside all user’s native apps being in no way different from them. This is how PWAs work.

Let’s have a look at the Lancôme USA PWA, which provides the individualized mobile UX, diversity of products, and state-of-the-art customer engagement. When you are observing their PWA, it is easy to forget that you are still in a web browser. Their website is full of powerful tools focused on its customers’ needs. For instance, their Skin Care Adviser is designed to help women with different types of skin find the right care product.  

One of the main features of PWAs is the ability to access device software and hardware. This function enables PWAs to:

  • send push notifications to retain customers,
  • provide a barcode scanner for managing discounts,
  • use a camera to make real-time photos with an alternate reality,
  • deliver localized content using a GPS,
  • share content throughout a contact list within a user’s device, and much more.

All of these features expand the website functionality and will be extremely useful for e-commerce stores adding value to businesses through the superior mobile UX. 

What PWA Apps Bring To The Table

  1. Little storage space. While the average native app file size is about 30 MB, PWAs take no more than 3 MB, since they are run on a browser. The space issue is critical for many users as far as they have a great number of applications stored in the memory of their devices. These apps remain unused most of the time, taking the disk space.
  2. App-like and fast experience. Progressive apps are extremely fast thanks to website caching. The fact is that the technology relieves the pages from the necessity to reload. As such, all JS and CSS files are rendered on Storefront, while all the updates are executed on the backend. Thus, when the user switches to the other page of the website, it loads faster as the footer, header, and other static elements have already loaded. Along with fast performance, PWAs provide excellent UX features that help regular websites look like applications.
  3. Offline functionality. Unlike regular responsive sites, PWAs are available without an Internet connection. Once connected, the users can get access to the entire PWA functionality anywhere and anytime. 
  4. They can help with SEO. Even though there is no direct information that Google ranks progressive apps higher than other websites, the technology can significantly improve your organic search profile by making your website UX much better than your competitors have. How? The truth is that when you deliver great UX, people stay longer on your site. Thus, the longer they stay, the higher the dwell time and the lower the bounce rate. Google sees this positive experience and, consequently, ranks your PWA app higher. 
  5. No installation is required. The installation process of regular apps can take a lot of time, while a PWA can be added to a home screen of a mobile gadget in a few clicks. 
  6. Cheaper to develop. Developing a native app can be very costly. The average price is from $60, 000 to $80, 000. If you want to reduce your investments, opt for a PWA. The average PWA development price is $15.000-$50,000. Besides, with a PWA, you will get a responsive website (as a bonus). 

Progressive Web Apps: A Seamless Mobile Experience

PWAs are picking up momentum right now. However, you can see how integral the technology will be to the mobile and desktop user experience in the foreseeable future. Even some platforms begin to understand the importance of this technology. For instance, Magento, one of the most popular CMS systems, announced the PWA Studio with the release of the second version. This feature is basically a set of tools for building a PWA on top of a Magento website. It makes the process of creating progressive apps much easier for developers. 

The ability to provide the users with the opportunity to install and access the websites from any device easily and quickly is one of the major aims for online entrepreneurs, as well as for business owners of all kinds. Building a PWA will increase the chances to sidestep competitors by creating an app-first environment on both mobile and desktop devices. 

Progressive Web Applications can be difficult to develop and implement, however, the benefits they bring far outweigh these short-term challenges.