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Progressive Web Apps use modern web capabilities to deliver web content in an app-like user experience. They are defined by three main characteristics, namely:

  1. They are reliable.
  2. They are fast!
  3. They are engaging.

Progressive Web Apps load instantly, regardless of the network you are connected to. By launching the web app by means of an icon on your mobile home screen, much like a native app, service workers enable the app to load instantly. A service worker is like a cache of the main resources needed to render the app. They allow the app to load locally and avoid being dependent on bandwidth speed in order to work.

Users tend to abandon a site if it doesn’t load within a few seconds. Life’s too short and there are too many other choices. Users expect a fast-loading site without jerky or non-responsive interfaces. In order to achieve these goals, Progressive Web Apps focus on minimizing and optimizing data transfer to the user. This means optimizing both code and content as much as possible. To accomplish this, it is critical to understand the life-cycle of a request from an end user to the web server, and the data sent back to the end user. This allows the developer to determine which steps can be eliminated or optimized. By also understanding how a browser handles the data returned from a web server, the developer has another area to leverage in order to optimize the web app.

Unlike normal websites, Progressive Web Apps are installable, viewed and activated on a mobile device’s home screen. They offer a full-screen, immersive experience along with features such as push notifications, much like native apps. Data shows that Progressive Web Apps improve conversions consistently due to the engaging and immersive user experiences.

A few weeks ago, I discussed Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is a great way to provide lightning fast websites. However, Progressive Web Apps take things a step further by not only making a website lightning fast, but virtually behave like a native mobile app.

Both technologies have their place, but if you haven’t already, it may be time to seriously consider upgrading to one of these technologies.

If you’d like to learn more about the technical aspects of Progressive Web Apps check out Smashing Magazine’s article. For examples of Progressive Web Apps check out PWA.

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