Since the introduction of progressive web applications (PWAs), many companies have taken advantage of the new platform to enhance user experiences and reach new user bases. The most notable use cases have come from larger companies like Twitter, FlipKart, Walmart, and Alibaba. Currently, there is a tremendous opportunity for smaller companies that offer online services to take advantage of progressive web applications. Thanks to Google's well-documented specs and the many resources available online, progressive web apps are easier than ever to create, test, and maintain.
1. Easy migration from a web app to PWA
You can easily take an existing application and enhance it with progressive features. Migrating an existing modern web app only requires adding a few extra files: a manifest file to make the app installable, some image icons for home screens, and a service worker to make it functional offline.
The most challenging part of the migration process is the implementation of the service worker and deciding how you want to handle requests and the cache. There are plenty of examples and resources available online to help you along the way. There are a decent amount of tools available to get started. Install Lighthouse in Chrome and generate a report on your application to get immediate feedback on your app's progressiveness. You can also use Microsoft's PWA builder tool nto get the boilerplate stuff out of the way.
2. Maintain one application for multiple platforms
Progressive web applications can be accessed on desktop, tablet, or mobile devices with a modern web browser. The best part is the application is directly installable to the device! No need to download an installer or zip that you'll have to delete later. Just a simple click to install.
3. Grow user-base easily
If your users are not platform based, then why should your application be? The web gives you the freedom to reach anyone with a browser regardless of the device or platform. If you have users that can benefit from your service in other countries, having a PWA can help. In less developed countries, the internet is not as common of a resource and speeds can be slow. Offline capable applications really shine here because upon first visit the application shell is cached. All network requests are queued and handled as the network becomes available. The application shell is also very lightweight in comparison to a native mobile app, so the memory on the device is hardly noticeable. Your users will consider deleting heavier apps when storage limits are reached, so a PWA is a nice alternative.
4. Avoid marketplace restrictions and fees
Application marketplaces require a membership, a fee and a submission process for each application. The submission and acceptance process can take weeks and may not reach the requirements upon completion. This wastes valuable development time. Besides developer could care less about their subscription or fees. That's work for the Project/Product manager. Some modern web development tools can deploy your application to the world in seconds (for free). This gives you and your team the power to release your new versions as frequently as you like. Add a new feature to your app and deploy your code to your users immediately.
And your users can bypass the app stores altogether. They can install your application to the home screen on their device from the browser. This is supported on iOS also.
5. Familiar experiences across devices
A web application that complies with progressive standards will look the same on different devices. Users will feel just as comfortable using their phones as their laptops. They can intuitively complete the same tasks with little effort.
6. Eliminate overhead and maximize resources
There's a vast eco-system of web development tools available and choosing the right one can be difficult and time consuming. With building PWAs, web developers don't need to learn a new language, framework, or platform-specific development techniques to develop applications for different platforms. They just need to get comfortable with a few more browser API's and their limitations. This is an easier transition from a development standpoint. Developers can maximize reach for potential users in shorter a period of time.
7. Developing a progressive web app saves time
More time = more opportunities. Time is your most important asset. All the previous points are time-savers, except #1. But if you compare the amount of time it takes to migrate an existing web application to the amount of time it would take to develop one or more native applications, reason #1 falls into the time-saver category.
While PWA's provide much more than traditional web apps, there are still use cases where a native application is a better fit. Maybe a PWA is unnecessary for your business because you have a specific target audience, various security restrictions, or device-specific capabilities that are currently unavailable in some browser(s).
Emerging technologies continue to evolve for the better, and companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple are actually working together to make PWA's a reality across all platforms. Google is pioneering the effort for information and use cases for progressive web apps. You will still need to use other resources to find varying support in other popular browsers like Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera. You should explore the current limitations, in the browser on the device of your choice. The page will tell you what the containing browser supports.
Do your research on how users are accessing your services and make sure you can provide the functionality you need in the respective browsers.
Try building a progressive web application. It's easy to get started if you already have a web application. Why not start the conversation with your development team today?