PWA (Image courtesy below)
Legend: PWA are Reliable, Performant & Engaging. Illustration from Google. Image source

While working on the Nuxeo Web UI, we took an afternoon break with the team to attend Google’s Progressive Web App event in Paris. This fun and information-packed event gave us a good idea of Progressive Web Apps. Our plan, moving forward, is to give our Web UI the superpowers of a Progressive Web App and take it to the next level. Today, let’s discover what it is all about and what the benefits of building such apps are.

What is a Progressive Web App?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a mobile-first application that combines the best of the web and the best of native apps to offer an optimized experience to engage more users in powerful applications.

Bringing the concept of progressive website to the next level, PWA behaves like an application for mobile users directly in the browser. From the first visit to your web application, users will benefit from a fast, reliable and seamless experience, even in LieFi conditions.

Like native applications, users will be able to access your web app from their home screen by clicking on your icon, then land on a custom splash screen before starting to enjoy your product. In addition, you also have the ability to send web push notifications to them.

Browsing pages is an aging paradigm based on desktop times. For a few years now, mobile-only users have been more common than desktop-only users, and this number is still growing. Yet, people still discover brands and products from the web first rather than from web stores. That’s why as web developers we need to provide high-quality immersive app experiences in browsers like native applications do.

Why do I need to consider it if I already have an app on a web store?

You may wonder why you need to rely on browsers when applications are doing the job well enough? Here’s some of the reasons why:

  • Applications download is the first barrier between you and your users. PWAs don’t require any installation and are shareable by URL. So, the acquisition cost is slightly reduced.

  • Applications are heavy. If a user needs more space on the device for pictures, games or music your application will not weigh heavily in the balance. A web app has a negligible weight in comparison.

  • For a company applications are expensive to develop and have a significant maintenance cost in order to support many versions for many platforms. Your PWA relies on maintainable browser standards.

  • Applications need web store validation, while your web app is live when you want it.

  • Users may not have the latest version of your native app. PWAs ensure that every user will be using the latest version with the latest features. You only have to focus on progressive enhancement.

Conversion Rate and Re-engagement

All these friction points have a clear cost on users. Google has published very interesting case studies from brands moving to PWA with different goals and strategies and with impressive results.

Alibaba.com increased conversions on the mobile web by 76% mainly because users don’t have to download the application. The Guardian increased their cross-platform signed-in users by 44% in less than a year by improving the user-centric experience. Konga, the leading e-commerce website in Nigeria, cut data usage by 92% for initial load and by 82% for completing the first transaction, thus allowing more users to access their web store.

Having said that, PWA does have a few pain points. If you want to know more about the strengths and weaknesses of Native Apps and Web Apps you can read this interesting comparison from LifeWire. It will help you focus on the best strategy for your product.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss what you need to do to build a progressive web app. Stay tuned!