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Year on year, mobile usage increases, and more importantly, so does the use of mobile browsers and applications. This means that developers are constantly trying to make the user experience on the mobile web as streamlined and efficient as they can. That’s where Progressive Web Apps come in.
As you may recall, Google Developers first created Progressive Web Apps last year, as a way to combine both a website and a mobile app. The aim was to develop an app like user experience on a mobile browser, giving the user the benefits of an app; push notifications, offline accessibility etc. while eliminating the process of visiting the app store and downloading it. A study showed that an app loses 20% of its users with every step from their first contact with the app in the app store, to downloading it, then installing it and finally using it.
Progressive Web Apps are really intelligent in the way that they work. They have built-in intelligence that is able to record user’s habits and actions when using the app and can therefore deliver a more personalised experience for those returning and using the app often. This also helps them create another benefit, push notifications. By building a relationship with the user, the app can then deliver notifications based on their previous activity. This makes it easy for users to then re-engage.
While you are online and using the Progressive Web App, it is able to cache the data available. This then means that it can then be used when you are offline. This is hugely beneficial for users with slow or limited internet access, as it means lower data usage. Not only does cached data allow for offline availability, but it also helps the apps work extremely fast. Also, by removing various steps that websites take to gather data and features, it increases the load time of Progressive Web Apps significantly.
With a highly responsive layout, it means the apps are also a lot easier to navigate than a desktop website that has been condensed down for mobile purposes. They offer a wide range of hardware access as well e.g. screen orientation, geolocation, micro phone and camera access etc. Finally, as there is no download involved, they are available to everyone.
When developing these apps, people need to be aware of the potential problems that could come when being indexed by Google. Although there may be some limitations when it comes to SEO, and they will possibly be seen as more of an extension to an existing website, Progressive Web Apps will still provide huge benefits to the user experience and are set to be the next step for mobile web as it continues to grow.