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4 Characteristics of a Good Progressive Web App

What separates a regular web app from a progressive web app might be the difference between the life or death of your business. If you have mobile users, you need to understand the value PWA can bring to your business. Basically, I want to help you understand why PWAs are awesome.

Rising Popularity of PWAs

Progressive Web Apps offer a new approach to web design by the courtesy of Google. They put mobile device users on equal terms regardless of their hardware and internet connection. If you’d like to know more about PWA, read on!


PWAs is an emerging technology that’s been evolving rapidly regarding the possibility of new browsers. Each year we get more and more ready-to-use native features exposed via JavaScript. Google is far and away the key thought leader of PWAs for its investments both in technology and proper marketing around this concept. Numerous companies, such as Twitter, Washington Post, Forbes and Virgin America, have adopted PWAs in their applications to provide their users with better performance and lower data usage. As a result, they improved conversions, increased the number of mobile searches and grew the number of returning visitors.

Key Characteristics of Good Progressive Web Applications

Google describes PWA in terms of features it should have and UX it should share with the user. If you ever wanted to check all the features of progressive web apps, you can use Google Chrome addon called Lighthouse. Below you will find our opinionated list of the key features that make the technology worth your attention.

Mobile-first

I believe that design is the most important feature of Progressive Web Apps. It sounds really obvious - we’ve seen the mobile-first trend gaining importance for the last 10 years. Responsive Web Design is everywhere, but we might need much more. Not only should you make sure that your app looks good on the mobile device but also that it delivers the value to your user in the best possible way no matter the context - when  walking down a busy street, driving a car or playing with kids. In all these situations people use their mobiles to access the web and your job is to make their experience as smooth as possible.

Fast

A good progressive web app must be super fast. There are plenty of ways to improve the speed of your application that you can read about here. The most important thing to remember about being fast is that it actually has the most significant impact on your business in terms of engineering.

Offline-first

One of the hottest features in web for years. Thanks to service workers and the fairly new API in modern browsers, websites can be accessed and used even when the mobile device is off the network or when it is in Airplane mode. Building offline experience is a shift to native mobile app experience, and it demands a slightly different UI, similar to the one known from the native apps, i.e. Google App Shell Model.

Possible to Add to Homescreen

This is a trivial feature that allows your user to add the link to your web app to the homescreen on his or her mobile device. It works on both Android and iOS. Even if you can’t match the rest of the PWA features, I believe this is worth supporting and it takes only a few minutes of implementation.

Summary

The list of all PWA characteristics is much wider. However, it’s not always a good idea to follow all the specifications. Sometimes due to your budget limitations or time pressure you will need to focus only on some part of the key features. In such a scenario, I recommend that you focus on three of them: good mobile design, speed, and - last but not least - support for the offline mode. With such a base you can create the application that provides users with the seamless user experience.

76% higher conversion on the mobile web for Alibaba.com - Progressive Web Apps
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