There’s increasingly more and more talk about Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) becoming the future of app/web development–and the Winnona Partners team is all for it! Over the past couple of years we’ve developed several PWAs for clients and for ourselves, and have found them to be an exceptional alternative to native apps and traditional web sites.
So what is a PWA? PWAs are essentially regular web sites and web pages that can look and function more like native mobile applications. Popular web sites like Twitter and Pinterest that have dynamic content that users can interact with are ideal candidates for PWA development. Companies who have launched web apps with native app functionality are already discovering high conversion rates and lower bounce rates, and we’re seeing more and more companies turn to PWAs. Plus, from a development standpoint they are proving to be a powerful medium for businesses to consider.
What are some PWA advantages?
Although PWAs may not yet have the same prestige associated with a mobile app in the App Store or Google Play Store, PWAs offer many advantages that make them appealing to companies and developers alike:
• Discoverability. PWAs have a better chance of being discovered as they have better representation on search engines compared to mobile apps. (People don’t go to the app store to search for things as often or in the same way they use Google search).
• Installation. No need to go to the App Store or Google Play to download the app. You can add a PWA to your home screen via a feature called Add to Home screen. This will allow the PWA to utilize the entire screen as well, and not be cut off by the top and bottom browser navigation bars.
• Offline Capability. Unlike traditional websites, users can access the PWA and interact with it offline (usually in a very limited capacity)
• Save Development Time and Cost. In terms of development, pushing updates to the PWA is of course easier compared to the hassle of submitting an app update on the App Store or Google Play. Speeding up development time means that PWAs can also be less expensive to develop than native apps.
• Uniformity. Although developers will need to account for nuances associated with different browser types, this is still less time-consuming than designing around different device types and screen sizes.
What are some PWA Disadvantages?
There are a couple factors that may be important for you to consider if you’re contemplating whether or not to have a native app or a PWA developed:
• Feature Limitations. PWAs are powerful, but they still can’t utilize every hardware-specific feature available, especially on iOS devices. For instance, Apple doesn’t allow PWAs to access Face ID, Touch ID, Bluetooth, or Beacons, upon others.
• Legacy. Since PWAs are relatively new, older mobile devices might not be able to support them properly. Over time, this issue will solve itself as older devices get off the market.
• Push Notifications. While significant advances have been made with PWA push notifications, they’re still not as fleshed out or advanced as native mobile app notifications.
Although there are some limitations with PWAs compared to native applications, the pros still largely outweigh the cons–especially in terms of online exposure, and saving development time and money. E-commerce, social platforms, or other businesses with dynamic content could certainly thrive with a PWA. If you’re looking to get ahead in the mobile web era, then we strongly recommend you consider a PWA for your business. Want to learn more? Contact us today!