Progressive Web Apps – Benefits, Components and How it Works?

Progressive web app seems to be the latest buzzword in today’s tech era. If we ask you to open the Google Maps on your phone, would you do it using the native app through the browser? Chances are, you will prefer the native app. Today, users spend most of their time on native apps rather than the web.  In fact, they spend 87% of the time on native apps and only 13% of the time on mobile apps.

A PWA is a website, which gives a feeling as if you are using a native mobile app. Like any other website, it has a unique URL assigned to it where it works like a normal website. But in addition to that, it can be used as a native application on your mobile phone. 

“Progressive Web App (PWA) is a term used to denote a new software development methodology. Unlike traditional applications, progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages (or websites) and a mobile application. This new application model attempts to combine features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of mobile experience.”

-Wikipedia.org

It is like having an app on your phone without having to download or install it. Big companies have already implemented this technology. Some famous examples are Instagram, Pinterest, Uber, etc.

Benefits

Besides providing a mobile-like experience to the users, a PWA has several other advantages. Some of them are listed below:



1. Offline Usability

Have you ever noticed that even you are not connected to the internet, you can still access the Whatsapp messages on your phone? You cannot send/receive messages but you can read the previous messages and even type a reply as well. Once the internet is available on your phone, your message gets delivered automatically.

PWA offers you the exact same thing on the web. Currently, if you try to load a website without internet connectivity, you get the famous DINOSAUR GAME (with the message that says, “You Are Offline”). Progressive Web pages enable you to connect to the website, even when you are offline (provided the PWA was visited at least once before, in an online mode).

2. Page Loading Speed 

A PWA loads faster than a normal website as PWA takes advantage of modern methods of caching. It significantly improves user engagement as a study shows that 53% of the users abandon the website if the page took longer than 3 seconds to load. 

So the bounce rate of PWA is lower compared to normal mobile websites.

3. Installable

Just like a native app, a PWA can be installed locally on the device. They reside on the home screen along with other native apps. Just by looking at it, you won’t be able to recognize between a PWA and a native app.  It allows users to get access to the site in just one click. 

4. Automatic Background Sync

No need to install updates to access new features like a native app. As it is integrated with the website, all new updates made to the website automatically syncs with the PWA stored locally on the device. All is done with a simple refresh.

5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

As PWA is technically a website, all SEO techniques can be used and implemented, to reach a larger audience.

6. Platform Independent

As compared to native applications, which only run on their specific OS like Android or IOS, a PWA runs anywhere as it runs on a browser.



What Makes a PWA?

A website uses the following three components to become a progressive web app. The three components used are as follows :  

1. Service Worker

A Service Worker is just a JavaScript code that works as a proxy between the browser and the network. It helps to build an offline web application using the browser’s cache API. The App’s performance increases because of that, no matter if you are connected to the internet or not.

2. Manifest File

The manifest file is basically a JSON file that has all the configuration and information of the application, as the icon to be displayed on the home screen when installed, application name, background color, theme, etc.

3. HTTPS

Service workers have the ability to intercept the network requests and can modify the responses. Service workers perform all the actions on the client-side. Hence, PWA requires secure protocol HTTPS.

How Does It Work?

Take an example of a native app. When we download and install them, critical resources like UI components and some data are stored in the device, that’s why we can open them without an internet connection.

PWA follows the same approach, when you install it, the PWA stores HTML files, CSS files, and images in the browser cache and the developers can fully control the network call. Service workers make all this possible.

Conclusion

Giant tech companies around the globe are implementing PWA and achieving great success by overcoming some problems like slow network and optimized the user experience and got up to an 80% increase in conversion and SEO performance.  

PWAs have managed to act as an advanced version of the web apps and have bridged the barrier between the web and mobile apps. Still, in their infancy stage, there is a lot of room for improvements and enhancements, but nevertheless, progressive web apps have attracted a lot of significance in recent times.

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