Web Development

What are PWAs and what do they mean for you?

Described as “experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps,” PWAs are pages that use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience for users.

Bear with me here.

PWAs are browser mobile web apps. They bring experiences you’d expect from a native app to mobile browsers. This is good, because it not only lessens the necessity of having an app, but also caters to the growing shift to mobile to provide a better user experience.

Google has been hyping PWAs for a while on their webmasters and developers pages. Per their description, a Progressive Web App is:

  • Progressive– Works for every user, regardless of browser choice because it’s built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet.
  • Responsive– Fits any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever is next.
  • Connectivity independent– Enhanced with service workers to work offline or on low-quality networks.
  • App-like– Feels like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation because it’s built on the app shell model.
  • Fresh– Always up-to-date thanks to the service worker update process.
  • Safe– Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and to ensure content hasn’t been tampered with.
  • Discoverable– Is identifiable as an “application” thanks to W3C manifest and service worker registration scope, allowing search engines to find it.
  • Re-engageable– Makes re-engagement easy through features like push notifications.
  • Installable– Allows users to “keep” apps they find most useful on their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
  • Linkable– Easily share via URL, does not require complex installation.

PWAs also load really fast and have highly engaging features that become increasingly powerful as the user spends more time building a relationship with the app.

In short, your mobile website becomes your super fast/highly engaging app and turns out a positive user experiences for mobile users.

Who Needs A PWA

You might be compelled to get one immediately because it sounds so good, but not everyone needs a PWA. Moz has a handy little checklist that illustrates the who and why behind needing a PWA:

Signs a PWA may be appropriate

If that checklist fits the bill for you and implementing a PWA sounds like the next step, you can get a run-through on creating one on Google developer’s intro to PWAs.

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