Progressive Web Apps: What You Need to Know

The next generation of the mobile web is supposedly here: Progressive Web Apps. As digital marketers, we are always looking for new tools or applications that can radically improve user experience, engagement and of course conversions.

So, what are Progressive Web Apps exactly?

According to Google, Progressive Web Apps will combine both web applications and native web applications to create a new app-like immersive user experience. Aside from its improvements in design, Progressive Web apps will load in uncertain network conditions (and even offline), while allowing for quick user interaction and seamless scrolling. Not to mention that the app will live on the user’s home screen, without the need for an app store.

There is no question: Progressive Web Apps will fundamentally alter how websites are built in the future. If your team is already developing or looking to develop native web applications for clients, here a few reasons you needed to start exploring Progressive Web Apps yesterday:

1) Instant Loading: No matter what connection the user is on, apps will load nearly instantly. This is a huge advantage for any e-commerce store that cannot risk slow loading times.

2) Add to Home Screen: Web app banners will give users the ability to seamlessly add the app to their home screen. If the user becomes distracted or exits the app, they can re-launch it easily. Allowing the user to access the app more frequently and with ease can lower cart abandonments and increase conversions.

3) Push Notifications: Dormant users can become re-engaged easily with relevant, timely and contextual notifications, even when their browser is closed. This would revolutionize customer re-engagement, app engagement, as well as possibly increase conversions.

4) Secure: With any application, users want to know that their information is protected and not tampered with. Progressive Web Apps will use HTTPs to secure the connection between your client’s site and their users.

5) Responsive: Your client’s users are expecting a responsive site. Progressive Web Apps can be structured and coded to be responsive across all devices.

Although Progressive Web Apps are said to revolutionize the web, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of:

1) Not all browsers are supported: Right now, only newer versions of Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s Android browser support Progressive Web Apps. Browsers like Safari (which dominates close to 50% of the mobile browser market) currently do not support this type of technology.

2) Not all device software/hardware is supported: Hardware and software on both iOS and Android devices have not been created to support Progressive Web Apps, which means features like home screen shortcut prompting and fingerprint scanners (which are supported in native web applications) are not compatible.

3) Issue of Discovery + Legitimacy: Because there is no central download store, it may be difficult to have users find your client’s app. App stores also provide a level of legitimacy that make apps reputable.

Although Progressive Web Apps may be in their infancy, digital marketers must be aware of their existence, especially if they are already exploring native web applications for their clients. It is important to keep in mind that although Progressive Web Apps might be the future of the web, not every business will benefit from it. Developing an overall digital strategy for your client can help determine whether they should use this app-like technology or not.

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