Mobile app or PWA, which technology to choose?

The term PWA (Progressive Web Application) has surely often coincided with the themes of various articles devoted to this technology. However, in this post I will focus primarily on showing the practical possibilities and advantages of using PWA, both in the case of building new products and indicating possible paths to change the operation of currently available applications in the App Store or Google Play. I will try to present both the strengths and limitations behind the use of search engine technology to provide users with a very similar experience of using as in standard mobile applications.

PWA or mobile application - which technology will be better for your product?

As the classic says: "it depends" what is your application for? What features does it have? Before we try to find the answer to the question in the title, let's start by explaining what PWA really is and what it is not.
“Progressive web applications (PWA) is a technology that allows you to install the web application on the smartphone screen, instead of downloading applications from popular platforms such as the App Store and Google Play. Applications of this type have in most cases the same functions and appearance as in native mobile applications, however, the limitations resulting from the fact that their browser environment is a web browser, do not allow replacing native applications in 100%”.

 

Therefore, PWA is called websites that use new functionalities introduced to browsers. We mean the Service Workers and the Web App Manifest. The basic features of the correct page created on the basis of PWA are as follows:


1. Progressiveness - the page adapts to the screen size of the device on which it is used.
2. Speed ​​- moving between subpages takes place in a very short time, and the site immediately interacts with users.
3. Imitation of "nativity" - the look of the page based on PWA resembles almost standard native applications, which additionally means that we can download the website directly from the browser to the phone's desktop and run it even in offline mode.

Now that we know what PWA is, we can think about when to apply this technology and when it's better to choose existing native applications.

If your product does not have extensive functions requiring access to contacts, access to phone memory, galleries (along with PWA time extends the range of possibilities), then choosing PWA may be a great solution, especially in the perspective of time and effort to create it, and then start. Thanks to this type of solution, it perfectly matches online stores, information / entertainment portals, systems supporting customer service (thanks to push notifications), online music players, radio stations, social networking sites and even ERP class systems. As you can see, the spectrum of possibilities is very large and in fact, if you do not encounter technological limitations related to PWA while building your own solution, the decision to choose between PWA and the native application belongs only to you or other founders.

Saving in construction - convenience for users

The main reason why PWA is a breakthrough in the web development is the optimization of expenses related to the development of a given product. Choosing whether your solution is to work in iOS or Android, and preferably immediately in both, involves employing more people to the project team. At the same time, when creating a product in the mobile version, the work usually takes place in two stages, i.e. building an application and a website, and this involves double costs, and above all, providing the solution extends over time. However, the savings brought by PWA result from the fact that one project team focuses on building one solution, which has a chance to gain a larger group of users, because it is widely available, ie in the browser, instead of downloading them from the Play Store or App Store. Additional benefits that improve user conversion are:

- Very often, applications created in PWA work offline

- The interface is practically the same as in the native application

- Very fast charging time and reaction to user's actions

- Thanks to push notifications you increase the involvement of users

- No need to download the application from the universal platform

- Low phone memory consumption even after adding the application to the main screen of the device (no frequent updates)

- Progressiveness, launched applications adapt to the screen size of the device

The duration of the project and the composition of the project team

The estimated duration of a PWA-based project is 3 - 4 months. A lot depends on the complexity of the solution being created. If you use ready-made applications, this time can be reduced to 1-2 months. On the other hand, the composition of the project team responsible for creating a website that meets the PWA standards looks just like in the case of only front-end projects (including design). The team consists of:

  • Front-end Developers (JavaScript, HTML, CSS, frameworks)
  • Full - stack Developers (JavaScript, frameworks)
  • UX designers
  • Architects (PWA)
  • Project Managers / Scrum Masters

Common examples of use

The pioneers of PWA development are engineers from the Internet giant from Mountain View or Google. The algorithms responsible for ranking a given page in the search results position the pages created in the mentioned technology much better, thanks to meeting the standards included in the list of implementation tasks. And what are the best known examples of PWA-based websites?

Google Maps: This is one of the most accurate map and navigation services in the world thanks to technical support or live navigation available for the native Android app. You can also use all these functions using the version in PWA.

Telegram: is a popular chat and HD connection application. It works in most countries, and even in those where WhatsApp does not work properly.

Trivago: 500,000 people have added PWA Trivago to their home screen. The conversion has increased by 97% and users are more involved.

Forbes: the new page loads in 0.8 seconds. After the implementation of PWA, there were many significant positive changes: mobile device owners spend more time on the site, which affects browsing more content and automatically - more ads. Thanks to this, Forbes can improve the quality of content provided to readers and gain a negotiating advantage with advertisers.

Aliexpress: key effects of implementing PWA confirm numbers - the number of new users in all browsers increased by 104%, and conversion by as much as 82% on iOS.

Limitations

First of all, not all device functions can be integrated with the website via the WEB API. So far, added pages to the main screen of the device can not use the capabilities contained in sensors, NFC and Bluetooth modules, and also do not have access to data on the user's phone, such as our phone number, contacts, calendar and others.

 

The choice of technology is yours

If PWA technology develops as it does at the current pace, then we can look into the future with huge hopes related to its use. For now, it can not be said that native applications cease to fulfill their roles and are even being replaced by PWA-based websites, because there are too many restrictions that do not give an advantage (for now) an alternative in the form of Progressive Web Applications. But there are industries such as: e-commerce, media, entertainment industry that very effectively uses the opportunities and benefits of using PWA. The increase in the conversion of users, the longer the time spent on the website, are evident proofs confirming the sense of further development of the technology described in this article. However, the choice of technology that will be appropriate for your project should be based on a comparison of initial costs and financial outlays, as well as the fulfillment of technical requirements when placing a mobile application and a site built in PWA.

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