Written by – Miracle Ufodiama
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are the talk in Enterprise software.
Companies that engage with their customers online through traditional web apps and those with full-fledged native apps are flowing to PWA en masse. This is because PWA offers a range of features and technologies that neither traditional web apps nor native apps (Android and Apple applications) offer on their own.
What is PWA?
According to MDN, Progressive Web Apps are web apps that use emerging web browser APIs and features along with traditional progressive enhancement strategies to bring native app-like user experience to cross-platform web applications.
While there is no actual standard for PWA, there are certain features that make them, well, PWA. You can find out more about this from Progressive web apps (PWAs) | MDN.
On Lighthouse one can measure how PWA a website is. You can use Lighthouse as a Chrome tool or using a node or Lighthouse CI. Find out how to use it from The Lighthouse Tool by Google. This article will explore why PWA is better than native apps for your business.PWA toes the road between traditional Web Applications and Native Applications.
Here are a few reasons why PWA is better than traditional web applications.
PWA vs traditional Web Applications
One of the defining features of Progressive Web Apps is a secure context. It uses HTTPS and other security features to permit transactions to be made safely.
Because PWA is actually a web app that behaves like a native app it offers a seamless, close-to-native app feel. With smoother transitions and navigations, it has an immersive user experience that cannot be compared to any traditional web application.
Another important advantage that adds to user experience is that PWAs have Service Workers that handle caching assets in a fast way; so from a customer’s second visit, a web app is incredibly fast to deliver content.
Web Applications are accessed through a browser, but PWAs are installable and can be found on your app registry like other Android/Apple apps. There is superficial ease of access for users. They’d usually prefer to click on a familiar icon on their home screen or app launcher than to go to their browsers and search for your web app. And this leads to more engagement with your Web Application.
Push notifications mean that you can send notifications to your app users even when they’re not using your app at that moment. This is enabled through Push technology.
This means customers get to know about new stuff your company has to offer and this leads to higher customer re-engagement and conversions.
Service workers which are scripts that allow control over asset caching and network requests enable a PWA to load, look normal and do basic things even while offline.
PWAs are built to work in very poor network conditions. This enables quick load time and good user experience even in low network conditions. This is one reason why PWAs are so popular.
Now to the soul of this article.
PWA vs Native Applications (Android and Apple Applications)
PWA offers the best of both worlds in terms of:
PWAs are more affordable than native applications in terms of financial and time costs. It takes less time and funds to develop a PWA than a native Android or Apple application.
After development, there’s the issue of needing to distribute a native application to various app stores; this also costs time and sometimes fees which are totally non-existent for PWAs.Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications and hence are Cross-platform software and don’t need to be distributed on Android and Apple stores.
The Annoying Updates
Whenever new features are made in native applications, users may need to re-download the app all over again. For PWAs, like any other web application, updates are done without the need for the user to download and install the application.
Customer Engagements and Conversions
With Push Technology, your PWA can remind users of your services or new features when needed using push notifications: notifications that pop up on your users’ devices even without them being active on your app.
This is something native applications cannot do. And it has been shown to lead to greater customer engagement and conversions.
To install a native application, one needs to learn about the application, search for it on the device’s app store, read reviews, hit download, and wait for it to download, install it and give it certain permissions to work.
This whole process takes customer commitment to follow through.
But PWAs are simply downloaded and installed by users while on the regular web application, and clicks “OK” on a prompt to “Add to Home Screen”. That’s it. The PWA shows up as a native application with an icon on the users’ device.
Using PWAs, your web application can be everywhere. In the users’ app registry and on their screens, in a tab on their browser (if they haven’t closed it), on push notifications, and on socials; which all lead to more customer engagement and brand awareness as your PWA can be easily discovered.
There’s also the question of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and App Store Optimization (ASO), which are ways to get your app discovered easier for web applications and native applications respectively.ASO entails using appropriate keywords and pictures and getting customer reviews which can be particularly hard. The math around ranking in app stores is not very clear, so even with all these, your native app may not be found when relevant keywords are searched.
SEO on the other hand can be done using free tools online and has lots of resources one can learn from.
When Native Apps are Better
Some applications are better off as native apps than PWA. This is true if there is a need for:
Geofencing is the use of positioning technologies to create a virtual, geographical boundary that triggers a software response when a device enters or leaves a geographical area. It is very useful for businesses that want customers to actually come to their physical business premises whenever they’re in the area.
This is something that can be done with native apps that can’t be done with PWAs.
Some security features can only be made available on native applications. So if your business handles very sensitive information, then a native app is what should be used.
Splurging on User Experience
Native apps are very well integrated with devices they’re installed on. Though PWAs offer close to native app-like user experience, they fall about short because of this factor.
So if your business wants to splurge on user experience then a native app is the go-to.
PWA is highly recommended for small to medium-sized businesses and is a path many large, online corporations are taking because of its many advantages.