Websites have a lot to gain from implementing Progressive Web Apps (In short PWA). This new technology is already being used by top players. Google, AliExpress, and Flipkart reached a 50-100% increase in retention and conversion rates.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the mobile apps that progressively load and run in a web browser. As the latest advancement in web technology, they are quickly become the standard to bring almost all advantages of a native app to the web. PWA has been receiving a lot of attention since it was introduced as an open-source initiative driven by Google.
The term was first introduced by Google back in 2015. The “progressive” part, according to Pete LePage – Google Developer Advocate, can be explained as “as the user progressively builds a relationship with the app over time, it becomes more and more powerful”.
Why Progressive Web Apps?
A study has shown that, on average, an app loses 20% of its users for every step between the user’s first contact with the app and the user starting to use the app. A user must first find the app in an app store, download it, install it and then, finally, open it. When a user finds your progressive web app, they will be able to immediately start using it, eliminating the unnecessary downloading and installation stages. And when the user returns to the app, they will be prompted to install the app and upgrade to a full-screen experience.
A native app is definitely not all bad. Mobile applications with push notifications achieve up to three times more retention than their counterparts without a push, and a user is three times more likely to reopen a mobile application than a website. In addition, a well-designed mobile application consumes fewer data and is much faster because some resources reside on the device.
A progressive web application takes advantage of a mobile app’s characteristics, resulting in improved user retention and performance, without the complications involved in maintaining a mobile application.
Benefits of Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps match the mobile-first approach. This means that sites developed with PWA will function on mobile devices without any issues.
Website run smoothly
PWA combines the UX of a native app with the benefits of the mobile web. Sites with PWA run smoothly both as a web page and native app.
Stores built with PWA save up to 75% of the costs of a native app (both development and maintenance). With PWA you simply don’t have to make a separate native app, it’s enough to adjust your storefront.
PWA works offline, allowing the user to keep on browsing even without an internet connection. With any other websites, a user would have to drop this.
PWAs uses headless architecture. It’s all about separating the frontend from your backend eCommerce platform. With this approach, PWA can be added to the eCommerce platform by API in just 3 months.
Faster loading speed
Loading time of PWA is at least 2-3x faster compared to responsive or m.dot web stores. Google mobile-first indexing helps it to express the high speed of PWA and it’s a smooth performance on mobile devices. With faster loading time, PWA reduces server load. Your site won’t crash or slow down during periods of intense traffic.
Browsing with PWA is seamless. This causes a huge increase in conversion rates.
PWA apps are light. The weight of the apps is decreased by 80-90%. Just compare the Twitter native app 100mb+ with Twitter lite (PWA) 1.5mb!
Web push notifications
One of the best features missing from the web, push notification, is now made available on the browsers by PWAs. Push notification is proven to be the most effective channel to engage online shoppers, with 88% higher engagement and 3x retention rate among push-enabled users.
PWAs are enhanced with an emerging web standard that simplifies and secures online payment for consumers. To accomplish that, Web Payments remove the need for customers to fill in checkout forms by reusing stored address information and payment details. As the standard is built natively in the browser, PWAs utilizing web payments can deliver a consistent checkout experience for all users.
A progressive web app is secured by default, as web security is a requirement to enable its app-like capabilities. In order to be a PWA, it has to be served over HTTPS to provide security and privacy for users. With HTTPS enabled, your PWA can make sure that all of its communications with users are protected, including payment transactions, customer information, and their browsing history, etc.
How to convert a website into PWA?
In order to convert your web app into a progressive web app, you need to incorporate the following changes,
A website must use https protocol. Implement service worker APIs. Then, Progressive Web App is the upgrade of the web app in following regards,
Offline Availability - implement service worker API accordingly.
You can use cache always or cache first then network strategy or cache, the network first comes first serve strategy.
Push Notifications - implement service worker with push event handling and push servers. You will need a gcm sender id for this.
App feeling - for this implement a manifest.json file for your app details.
Go HTTPS to Convert Your Website to a Progressive Web App. The HTTPs protocol is the ONLY way to go when it comes to progressive web apps! All data exchanges need to be served on a secure domain: over an HTTPs connection!
You get yourself an SSL certificate from a trusted authority.
Create a Web App Manifest. It's this information that will let browsers know how precisely they should display your app once saved as a home-screen icon.
A link to JSON text file should be placed in the <head> of all your PWA's pages. Entered all the information about PWA. Copied the manifest.json.
Created a new “manifest.json” file in the root directory of your site. And pasted it there.
It should be served with: Content-Type: application/json HTTP header or a Content-Type: application/manifest+json.
Once the “Manifest” section of the Chrome's Development Tools Application tab has validated your JSON file, it will generate an “Add to home screen” link to be accessed on all desktop devices.
Set Up Your Service Worker. It's for catching all the static files so that PWAs can function offline, too, that use service workers. A service worker is, here's how you create one as you convert your website to a progressive web app.
You get it registered first things first. Practically, it will check whether the browser does support Service Workers and, if it does, it registers your Service Worker file.
If you do not need your PWA to work offline, too, just set up an empty /service-worker.js file.
Once you've registered your Service Worker, generate your Service Worker file, too.
You will have generated a service-worker.js including the service worker contents.
Install Event! This occurs when the application is installed. It’s typically used to cache essential files using the Cache API.
Activate Event! This occurs when the service worker is activated, either immediately after installation or on return.
Test It Out! At this stage of the "convert your website to a progressive web app" process.
Check whether your service worker got properly registered and installed on Chrome
Run a performance audit on your PWA, using Chrome's Lighthouse Extension.
You can share your experiences with us in the comment section. Thank you!
Stock photo from Prabowo96