By now, you have probably heard that progressive web apps (PWA) are the future of website development. You might have also heard that they are the best way for developers to make websites load faster and save on data bundles. But what really is a progressive web app?
Well, this morning, one of our coffee-inspired programmers led us through a discussion on Progressive web applications and we think it’s only fair to share what we learned. Here we go;
What Is A Progressive Web Application?
Simply put, a progressive web application is normal website that pretends to be an app. While you don’t need to compile it into other languages so that it can run as an app, a PWA allows users to add the website to their smartphone’s homepage, just like an app. So the PWA will look just like an FB or weather app when in fact it’s just a link leading to your website. What’s more, a PWA has the ability to work offline so that when users tap on the ‘app’ when offline they can still access your website.
A progressive web app is just a website with super powers. Just like some websites are mobile responsive while others are not. – Raymond Oluoch; Full Stack Developer
Progressive Web Apps; How Do They Work?
A progressive web app begins life just like any other website, on a tab. However, when you visit the same site for the third of fourth time, the website will ask you whether you’d like to keep the website on your homescreen or apps launcher. With your permission, the progressive web app makes a home in your mobile phone just like any other app so you don’t have to go typing the website’s URL everytime you want to visit. How brilliant and simple? Just think about it, when is the last time you went to Google Facebook.com?
It’s Possible to Access a Progressive Web App Without Internet Connection
Let’s say, you visited Facebook yesterday to browse and read some news. If you open it today, you will instantly get yesterday’s newsfeed on your screen while the app is fetching new content in the background, dynamically embedding it inside the feed you are already looking at. If fresh content cannot be fetched, for example because you are offline, then you will stay with yesterday’s feed but at least you won’t get any errors or endless spinners rendering the entire app useless. Progressive Web apps work just the same, only that you do not need to develop a mobile app.
Read More: What is a Mobile Application?
Other benefits of progressive web applications include;
- They cost much less than native apps to develop, and can be implemented using your existing web framework with no additional programming languages and technologies,
- Most key features are there to provide an ‘app-like’ experience: push notifications, pinning to home screen, sync in the background, offline functionality, etc., along with an app-like look and feel,
- The app will be easy to expand piece-by-piece with new functionality,
- PWAs are cross-platform, so you can save time on adapting your service to many different environments,
- They are backed and promoted by Google, ensuring that the approach will only grow in popularity
- Bypassing the Play Store/App Store allows you to get your app to market faster.
How Can Progressive Web Applications Save Time and Money for Businesses?
- You don’t need to pay for two versions of the same website
As earlier mentioned, a progressive website app functions as a normal website as well as a mobile app. This means that if you are hiring a web development company you won’t have to pay for two different products. Keeping in mind that developing mobile apps is a pretty expensive affair, you start to understand why progressive web apps are a game changer.
Read More: Understanding Web Development Costs
- Fast discoverability
Imagine the typical process of installing an app on your mobile. You first to Google play store or whatever store you prefer, find the app you are looking for in the midst of a thousand other apps, click download, confirm, agree to terms, enter your passwords, download the app, wait for it to install blablabla….by the time you are done, chances are you would have forgotten why you needed the app in the first place. The beauty of a progressive web app is that it’s extremely discoverable, just like a regular website – you google it, you click the link to open it, add it to your homepage and that’s it, you have the app on your device, ready to roll.
- PWAs are Scalable
Progressive Web Apps are easy to expand. Because you’re essentially working on a website and adding some functionality, you can add new bells and whistles step by step. You can also update your Progressive Web App with new features as more browsers become compatible with everything PWAs have to offer.
As you can probably tell, we are quite excited about Progressive Web Apps and the possibilities they offer. They may not be a solution for everyone, but we believe a PWA can create a strong mobile presence even for advanced products that have already been released to the market.