Developer advocate at Google, Pete LePage, gave a talk at the Velocity conference in NYC last year, and he said that today, the mobile web should be three things: reliable, fast and engaging.
This remains true today, since users expect their web browser to work fast every time. It is why almost half of web app users today will actually abandon an app if it takes more than a second or two to load, according to recent reports.
One way developers can deliver better user experiences is to create a progressive web app (PWA).
Google first proposed the idea of PWAs back in 2015 as a way to solve problems like slow performance and unresponsive user experiences. While there are a few best practices to consider when developing a PWA, developers should consider a few qualifications in order to call their website a progressive web app.
For instance, a PWA needs to be fast, it needs to be progressive, and it needs to engage the user.
Also, a PWA lets a developer take a web experience that is generally in a web browser, and transfer it onto a mobile device as a standalone experience. It will have an icon that looks just like an app, and in many cases, PWAs can run offline, according to Michael Facemire, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. He said app discoverability today is poor, and with a PWA, users can come to a website and simply download a web experience onto their device. It requires no app store, no installation, and it loads fast and delivers a good experience, according to LePage.
Sencha’s engineering director, Mark Brocato, said that PWAs is one of the next emerging technologies, and a lot of companies are considering these experiences. According to Brocato, the two big app stores (Google Play and the App Store) control what goes onto a user’s device, but he doesn’t think this will last forever.
“People enjoy these lower friction environments from both a developer and user perspective,” said Brocato. “It’s easier than getting approval from an app store, and developers are embracing PWAs.” He also said that PWAs need to be easy for the user, non-intrusive, and it has to give them that same great experience.
“[PWAs] could change or augment the app store way of doing things,” he added.
And it’s possible PWAs will take over mobile applications and web experiences, especially since customers don’t care so much about applications anymore, said Facemire.
“They want you to deliver a great experience on their devices, so they don’t care if it’s an app, they don’t care how you develop it, they just want that great experience,” said Facemire.