Progressive Web Apps – Pros, Cons, Cost and Popular Technologies used for development

Slow-loading mobile webpages are the hobgoblin of low traffic. Customers have the least tolerance for mobile websites that take ages to load.
As per a recent analysis, 53% of the mobile site visitors leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load.  

Average Speed Index

mobile page speed

This means you need to quicken the speed of your mobile website like never before.
Here’s the catch: a mobile landing page, on average, takes 15 seconds to load fully.
So, the question now is: how to increase the speed of a website, which is currently 5X lower than the current visitor requirement.  
Enter Progressive Web Apps, popular as PWAs.
A PDA helps expedite your web pages’ loading time. These apps automatically zoom your conversions rates and, more importantly, enhances user experience.


More on PWAs

It’s almost a conventional wisdom these days: If your mobile site is slow, customers, in no time, will switch over to your competitors. So, to help businesses speed up their websites, Google introduced the PWA concept in 2015.

A PWA, a combination of a native app and a web app, loads quickly, operates offline, and works well on all platforms, in addition to mobile. In appearance, it looks like a web app but is programmed to offer native app experience.


The one good reason why PWAs are gaining ground in the business space

Ease of development and maintenance.

A company that runs a website and a mobile app need to maintain both. Plus, the company has to make sure that their website runs on a desktop, tablet, and mobile phone, as well. For the smooth functioning of both the website and app, it has to hire different teams with different coding backgrounds for iOS, Android, and web.

On the other hand, if a company just runs progressive web apps, the coding team comprises web developers who build apps for all platforms.

PWAs are app-like, operate offline and on low-quality networks, and are also installable. While both the companies offer similar facilities to the user, the latter company’s expenses would be comparatively lower. Why? This is because the company has to look into the maintenance of progressive web apps solely.  Software Brothers, a mobile and web development company, is quite seasoned in developing impeccable PWAs using some of the best technologies mentioned below.    


Technologies used in PWA development

Several technologies are used for developing Progressive Web Apps. However, it’s primarily built on JavaScript with different characteristics.
The leading technologies used for creating PWAs:

React

React, a JavaScript Library is central to building user interfaces.  Facebook runs it and given that the social media giant also uses the same framework on its sites, which means the structure is rigorously tested among 1.18 billion users daily.

The most striking feature of ReactJS is its component-centered approach to development. Every component is based on JavaScript, so you are free to reuse it, time, and time again.

Polymer

Polymer consists of several components, tools, and models designed to create PWA.

With a polymer template, you can quickly create a PWA.  Being an open-source project by Google, the technology gets frequently updated so as to stay in sync with other open-source projects the template leverages.

Angular

It uses the Javascript framework for creating robust web applications and leverages HTML as a template language. More importantly, the framework helps create Single Page Applications in a clean and maintainable way. Additionally, it offers data binding capability to HTML, which, in turn, provides a rich and responsive experience to the users.

Ionic

It’s a JavaScript framework for developing powerful applications for many platforms using basic code. The framework’s nature ensures economical and faster development while cutting maintenance costs.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

It helps improve the performance of web pages. The technology ensures faster loading pages, low bounce rate, mobile-friendly, enhanced SEO, and adjustment to any browser.


The importance of APIs such as Manifest and Service Workers in PWA development

Web App Manifest

It’s a simple JSON file with configurations that allow users to save web applications on users’ home screens. Plus, it also defines the appearance and behavior on the home screen in terms of the icon, and other basic features such as colors, fonts, and even screens orientation.  

PWA technology

Service Workers

In layman’s lexicon, service workers are skin and bones of progressive web apps. Technically speaking, it’s an API that caches important assets and files to support offline experiences. So, even if the network is unavailable or unreliable, your PWA is sure to work.  Service workers also intercept requests and manage responses from the server.


Pros and cons of PWA

Check out this table to know how PWA features outweigh the features of those of native apps and responsive apps.

Features of PWA, Native App and Responsive

PWA Pros

#1. Better Engagement
As it turns out, an increasing number of customers are using PWAs over mobile websites.
There are several good reasons why customers are turning their backs on mobile websites and turning toward PWAs.

A few mobile engagement statistics from Google's research:

  • The average load time for PWAs is 2.75 seconds. This makes it eight times faster than an average mobile landing page.
  • The average bounce rate of a PWA is 42.86%, which is lower than a mobile website.
  • Mobile sessions on PWAs go up by 80% on average
  • Brands with PWAs admit their page views propelled by almost 134%
  • General engagement increased by 137%. For certain brands, it’s 400% more.

All-rounder: The progressive principles used for creating PWAs enable it to work on all browsers and all screen sizes: be it desktop, mobile, tablet, or any upcoming device.

Imitates native apps: PWAs can be used just like your native apps, both in terms of interaction and navigation.

Up to speed data: The information is always up to speed in PWAs, thanks to the data update process offered by service workers.

Secure: Follows the HTTPS protocol, so the information cannot be displayed or altered.

Indexed by Google: As these are web applications with URLs similar to that of a website, it can easily be indexed by search engines. Plus, SEO techniques are also applicable to PWAs, just like in the case of any website.

No Installation process: PWAs can directly be downloaded on your mobile devices. You don’t have to visit the app stores for the same. Directories such as Outweb.io and PWA rocks have a set of PWAs in one place.
Linkable: Shareable via URL without any need for installations

Connectivity independent: These apps are accessible offline and on low-quality networks, as well. An API called ‘service workers’ employs the data cached upon in the last interaction from the internet, to make it available offline as well. So, when there is limited or zero connectivity, PWAs are still accessible.

Push Notifications: Push notifications are generally linked to native apps, but they are an integral part of PWAs as well.

Good App Store Traffic: Previously, PWAs had no place at the app stores. No more! Currently, PWAs can be uploaded to all three app stores. This means you get to draw in the traffic of all the three app stores as well.

PWA Cons

Drains battery power: Given that they are written in complex codes, the phones have to work harder to interpret the code. That’s why PWAs consume more battery than native apps. So, users are no more worried about their battery power and may not have to download this kind of an app.

Unable to access various device features: PWAs fail to access several features on your device, which makes it lag behind native apps. PWAs do not have access to the device’s NFC and also the device’s Bluetooth, advanced camera controls, and so much more. All this makes the app less than ideal for users.

PWA Cost

Turns out, you can never be really sure about the cost of PWAs. Several things go into the web app development process. That said you can always come up with an approximate figure. Three basic things that you need an account for while designing progressive mobile apps:

  • Layout Design complexity
  • Total time needed to make a layout
  • The number of realizable features

A website costs between $3,000 to $10,000, while a native app costs between $20,000 to $80,000. A progressive web app costs between $6,000 and $20,000. Given that progressive web apps provide both the features of an app and functions of a website, which makes it a powerful and useful tool for the users. So, if your business only plans to develop PWA, it’s not a bad idea as you need to spend on developing a site or a native app separately.

I hope this article will give you a good insight and all needed information to decide which technology is best for you and your project. In case you have any additional questions or doubts feel free to drop us a line or let's have a quick call, shall we?

About the author: Jennifer Warren, a Content Crafter with GoodFirms, a research and review platform for mobile app development, software development, bot development companies, among many others. She is an opinionated writer with a big appetite for books, buzzwords, and boatloads of bouquets.