The world of mobile app development is somewhat murky. While many business owners have an application they want to build, few know which technology to use. Without development experience, it’s near-impossible to know.
Traditionally, the choice fell between HTML5 and native. As we’ve previously discussed the benefits and drawbacks of each – as well as highlighted the virtues of hybrid applications – we won’t dwell on those here.
But what if you’re a start-up? Your resources are limited; you are entering the unknown. Product-market fit is never guaranteed. So, rather than build a comprehensive application, you’ll want to test your concept first – and fast.
If this sounds like you, a progressive web application could be just the approach you’re looking for.
What is a Progressive Web Application?
Given they use standard web technologies, they are relatively simple to build. Plus, there are no dependencies on a particular app store, nor do developers need specialist knowledge of operating systems. Businesses testing new products can expect a short time-to-market with rapid deployment followed by straightforward, automatic updates.
Moreover, as PWA’s have access to an extensive collection of open source web libraries, they have a relatively robust feature set.
To summarize a Progressive Web App:
- Users access them via a URL;
- Google indexes them;
- They are web-based;
- But they function like an app;
- Plus, they work offline!
If you’ve ever browsed the mobile storefront of AliExpress; had a quick game of 2048; or, scanned your personalized newsfeed at Flipboard – then you’ve encountered a PWA.
When Should You Build a Progressive Web App?
Thanks to the simplicity of the approach – coupled with its ability to deliver relatively complex functionality – you can leverage progressive web applications to develop MVPs as quickly as possible.
Rather than getting bogged down in the detail of HTML5 vs. Native vs. Hybrid – just opt for a PWA for a swift, cost-effective means of showcasing your idea. As rapid development and automatic updates further facilitate your ‘test and learn’ phase.
Then, once you have validated your idea, consider a more scalable approach.
As PWA’s Have Limitations
Let’s be clear: PWA as an approach is extremely robust. You can deliver complex functionality via a web-based application for a near-perfect app experience. However, fundamentally, you haven’t got the fully-fledged app architecture for far-reaching capabilities.
There are limits to the experience, and you might reach a breaking point. Hence, we recommend PWA’s for market validation and ideation before significant investment. Rather than a standalone approach for building your bells-and-whistles product.
Though PWA’s Can Be Powerful in Their Own Right
To reiterate, there are many benefits to a PWA making them more than a mere testing device. They are worthy of a spot on any home screen and will engage users as effectively as any traditional application. Moreover, their flexibility enables rapid iteration – a feature that recently allowed AliExpress to increase conversion by 104% across browsers.
If we summed up Progressive Web App’s strengths, they would be as follows:
PWA’s may be web-based. However, given they launch like an app from the device’s home screen; they load instantly, irrespective of connectivity. Plus, developers control the cache and can pre-cache critical resources, which enables a reliable experience that also works offline.
PWA’s load extremely quickly, which is ideal as more than half of users abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to appear. And while people love native apps for their seamless experience; PWA’s can replicate this.
Users can download Progressive Web App to their home screen without ever accessing an app store. Then, the app can send push notifications, update icons, even modify launch screens without an update.
It’s these interactions that keep users engaged and coming back for more.
If you need to move fast, consider a Progressive Web App. You may even satisfy all your requirements and never need to switch approaches. Whatever the outcome, it’s a guaranteed way of learning crucial lessons in the shortest possible time without unnecessary expense.
It’s the entrepreneur’s dream.