In this modern day and age, we are all very much accustomed to using apps on a daily basis.
We use native apps on our phones for waking us up, planning appointments, tracking our fitness, speaking with our friends, checking public transport times, the weather, the news… the list is endless! It is for this reason that companies are often drawn to developing Apps for their customers, because it allows for better interaction with those customers, or at least that is the theory.
One of the problems with Apps is that they are very expensive to develop and maintain, especially as they have to be developed for multiple platforms i.e. Android and iOS. Another significant drawback is that it is often impossible to gauge how useful the intended audience will find the App, or whether it will be used at all. On top of this they are not indexed in the major search engines, so you have to do some level of marketing to create awareness of the App, which again is another cost.
Progressive Web Apps are significantly cheaper to develop, are very easy and cost-effective to scale, are directly integrated by default with your website, and can be indexed by the likes of Google. This makes having an App considerably more cost effective for your business.
If you’re up to date with the latest development technologies then you may have heard about Progressive Web Apps before now, but if not, and you are considering having an App developed for your business then read on.
What Are Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive Web Apps are fundamentally web pages that can look and feel like a native app on your phone. They combine the best functions of mobile apps (offline functionality, background updating, push notifications, shortcut icon) with the accessibility and shareable nature of web pages.
Not only is a Progressive Web App highly functional, it is also at the forefront of modern web page design, utilising the very latest technologies and coding practises. Another significant benefit is that through the use of something called ‘Service Workers’ these Apps can be used both offline and online, making them incredibly accessible. In fact, Google themselves vouch for Progressive Web Apps, stating that they are reliable, fast and engaging!
By combining the best parts of the web and mobile apps, Progressive Web Apps provide a seamless and immersive experience for the user.
What Are the Benefits of Progressive Web Apps?
Now you know what a Progressive Web App is, you may be wondering how it could benefit you. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using a Progressive Web App for your business.
They are named Progressive Web Apps because they are built with progressive enhancement as their main goal. By nature, they must work on all devices and take advantage of the user’s device and browser which is what makes them progressive.
As mentioned above, the addition of a Service Worker means that Progressive Web Apps will work on low-quality networks and even offline. The Service Worker essentially allows your device to cache pages and functionality, meaning that they can work without an internet connection, as long as they have been visited/loaded at least once with a connection. The Service Worker also allows the App to take advantage of native device functions, send push notifications and allow background synchronising. These features help to keep your customers engaged.
Progressive Web Apps are built to fit on all devices, meaning they are completely responsive from the very beginning. This extends the reach of your Progressive Web App and will provide a great user experience wherever a customer accesses it.
Through the use of an Application Shell, Progressive Web Apps can feel very much like using a native app. An App Shell separates the functionality and the content, meaning the ‘shell’ of the Progressive Web App loads before the content. This is then cached, so it instantly loads on repeat visits. This ensures a great performance for the user each time.
To add to the app-like feel, a shortcut to the Progressive Web App can be added onto any device. This provides easy access and background caching, just like a native app.
The main benefit of being a web page that looks like an app is that it can be easily shared and discovered. Progressive Web Apps can be shared through its URL, extending its reach significantly. These Apps can also be indexed by the likes of Google, meaning that you can simply optimise them for additional traffic.
Users also do not need to download Progressive Web Apps in the app store. This is a considerable benefit, because it has been found that on average an app loses 20% of its users for every step between the first contact and beginning to use the app. Progressive Web Apps limit the number of obstacles between your business and the consumer.
Alongside the many impressive benefits, case studies have also proven that Progressive Web Apps are delivering on their promise. Many popular brands have noted the benefits of Progressive Web Apps and have decided to make the change. It has been found that Progressive Web Apps provide higher user engagement, increased time on page and increased conversions.
For example, India’s biggest e-commerce website watched their conversions increase by 70% when they made the change to a Progressive Web App. User time spent on-site also tripled, and their re-engagement rate increased by 40%.
With stats like that, it’s hard to not be convinced by the allure of Progressive Web Apps.
A few more familiar faces such as Whatsapp, Airbnb and Trivago have also developed Progressive Web Apps for their businesses. Just head to any of these websites to get a feel for how seamless and immersive Progressive Web Apps can be for the user.
We have recently delivered a Progressive Web App to a Property Maintenance company, who use complex site audit forms to provide engineer assessments. Their engineers visit sites all over the country and often end up in basements, or in areas with little or no signal, so this App allows them to complete the complex forms on their device and submit them quickly and easily on site.
If the engineer has no signal at the time of submission, the App will save the data and submit it once they do have a signal. This Progressive Web App is a massive time-saving tool, which also saves considerably on printing and hand-completing forms. It is one example of how a Progressive Web App can deliver superb functionality in a very practical solution.
To see more case studies of Progressive Web Apps which have provided great benefits for the businesses, you can just head to Google’s case studies section.
So, are Progressive Web Apps for you?
Progressive Web Apps are redefining the way we look at native apps, and even websites. Since 2015 when the term ‘Progressive Web Apps’ was coined by designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome Engineer Alex Russell, this new web technology has been on the rise. We think the technology is fantastic for businesses that want to take advantage of an App, whilst keeping costs down, and maintaining use of the very latest in scalable technology.
So, if your business is looking to develop time-saving functionality, or a highly interactive customer App, or even a series of forms that can be submitted offline, then we recommend that you take a close look at Progressive Web Apps, as they bring undisputable benefits to many business processes and client interactions.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert developers about a Progressive Web App project then please give us a call anytime, or drop us an email with your project brief and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.