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Progressive Web Applications – An Introduction

Although Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) have been around since 2015 as a new and improved alternative to traditional apps and mobile-friendly websites, many retailers are still yet to adopt them. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a huge global surge in mobile commerce and businesses are increasingly making the switch. Increased support via Apple’s Safari browser has meant that PWAs are now commonplace.

As the use of mobile devices has grown, companies have needed to ensure that their websites function well across all platforms – and companies who neglect to meet this demand risk losing out to competitors.

What exactly is a progressive web application?

Progressive Web Apps combine the features of traditional websites and native applications. They offer more features than typical responsive websites, are far less expensive to develop than a custom app, and can be designed to work on any device in less time than a native app. Users of PWAs will typically:

• Enjoy faster loading times
• Access the PWA on the home screen of their device for easy access.
• Enjoy a full-screen display.
• Access content when offline.
• Receive push notifications when relevant content is published.

Key benefits of PWAs

Since a customer doesn’t have to download software in order to use an app, this eliminates the chances of the user abandoning it. If users are required to download an app before being able to see a site, the inconvenience could potentially push them away.

In addition to making shopping easier for consumers, the four top benefits of an effective PWA are described by Google using its FIRE acronym, which stands for:

• Fast: PWAs pre-cache their pages, which can be sped up with AMP technology. For instance, news conglomerate Forbes’ website could take up to 12 seconds to load on mobile devices, causing about 53% of users to abandon it. After upgrading to a Progressive Web App, users had an improved browsing experience that resulted in 43% more sessions.

• Integrated: PWAs feel just like a typical smartphone app and that makes navigating them easy. They can be installed on the user’s device and notifications will show them timely information.

• Reliable: Progressive web applications offer a consistent experience for users even when offline, along with synchronised content on all device screens and dynamic updates. For example, when Starbucks launched their PWA, the number of active users doubled due to practical features on offer.

• Engaging: PWAs can be easily paired with a variety of web components to bring your website to life. By integrating features like SoundCloud or YouTube videos, you can provide visitors with rich content and keep them on your site for longer.

Business advantages

It’s clear that mobile shoppers prefer PWAs over native apps, but retailers will experience significant advantages as well. Choosing a PWA instead of a native app will allow you to:

• Boost SEO: PWAs are SEO-friendly because they function within any browser, thus increasing the chances of a person discovering your website. Furthermore, the quick loading speed of a progressive web application helps with SEO ranking on Google since faster websites rank higher.

• Enjoy flexibility/scalability: Native apps, while best for their speed and flexibility, are often limited in customization. PWAs offer the same performance without limiting options to users.

• Offer increased security: PWAs need to operate through HTTPS. This provides users peace of mind when they are completing a transaction or providing personal information. Additionally, using HTTPS is one of the best practices for keeping your site safe and protected from data breaches or malicious hackers.

• Save time and money: Native apps are expensive and time-consuming to create. For some retailers, it’s just not worth all the trouble when mobile shoppers can accomplish their tasks without installing an app at all.

To find out more about how a PWA could benefit your business, please feel free to contact us. A member of our team will be happy to explain the advantages in detail.

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