Why Progressive Web Applications Will be the Big Deal in 2022

Mobile applications used to draw inspiration from desktop programmes and websites. Quite the opposite is true today: Apps set the future for websites.

We all have been long used to having our smart phones full of different apps from Google Play or App Store. But why should we care about progressive web applications? The answer is simple. PWAs have conquered the IT world with a wide range of benefits.

  1. There is no need to download and install them as they “install” themselves automatically on the web interface
  2. They load much faster than traditional websites
  3. Can be run in offline mode
  4. Can be displayed on all devices regardless of the system

Where Did Progressive Web Applications Come From?

The era of boring static websites is gone for good. Over the years, the need for websites to be more and more dynamic and adjust to users’ requirements has become quite pressing. Mobile apps provided a better UX, loaded faster and were able to run offline, and so they left websites in the dust due to better user experience and comfort. It was merely a question of time before websites started to adopt their functionalities.

A big step forward came with the improvement in HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript languages, which led to increased compatibility of web browsers with powerful processors. And so the idea was born that a website could work just like an app. In 2015, the designer Frances Berriman and the Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell came with the term “progressive web applications”.

Basic PWA Components

Google PWA Checklist

According to Google developers, PWAs meet the following criteria (this can be verified via the Lighthouse technology):

  1. Progressive – Have to work for all users, regardless of the browser or operation system
  2. Responsive – Can be displayed on any device, i.e. on a desktop, mobile phone or tablet
  3. Independent on Internet connection – Thanks to the ServiceWorkers technology, PWAs can be run offline or with poor Internet connection
  4. Up-to-date – Always up-to-date thanks to the update process ServiceWorkers
  5. Safe – For safety reasons, the service is run using HTTPS, which prevents snooping and ensures the content is not damaged
  6. Visible for search engines – PWAs can be found by search engines and identified as “applications” thanks to the W3C manifest and the registration scope of the service providers 
  7. Installable – No need to download them from App Store or Google Play
  8. Available – Can be easily shared using URL and don’t require complex installation

Application manifest

This is a file with basic information about the app, such as its name, splash screen, icons, colours etc. It can be found in the HTML header in the JSON format and allows you to install a web app on the home screen or to present other native apps.

ServiceWorkers

This script ensures that PWAs are available offline and can work in the background just like native apps. ServiceWorkers enable sending push notifications, synchronizing data in the background or processing HTTP requests. They are implemented as a JavaScript code written in the HTML header.

When Do Progressive Web Applications Come In Handy?

The increase in use of PWAs goes hand in hand with technology advancement. A case in point are cross-platform apps designed for simple purposes, such as meal or cab orders (that’s why Uber or DámeJídlo.cz have their own PWAs). A big plus is that PWAs can be run even in browsers on older mobile phones since they don’t load as much data as classic websites.

When Should You Avoid PWAs?

It’s not a good idea to replace standard mobile apps with PWAs as they are not yet fully compatible with some systems (Safari in iOS). This can change in no time, though. New advancements in technology keep coming every year so this is just a question of time.

PWAs as Great Opportunity for Online Stores

While most of the “big names” on foreign markets have already used this technology to their advantage for quite some time, here in the Czech Republic it’s still possible to get a massive competitive edge by employing this tool, especially for online stores. Considerably faster loading means your customers are more likely to stay on your websites instead of leaving them due to long waiting times (we’re talking seconds here). We therefore expect an upcoming PWA boom that will spread this technology among Czech customers.

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