Does Everyone Need a PWA to Attract More Visitors?

The technical human-being was split into two fractions beyond the memory of man: web and mobile. Some folks say that the web-pages easier to use; others that the mobile apps make much headway so the web and browsers might pass into oblivion. This war would last forever if Alex Russell didn’t present one-box solution in 2015. More than 3 years have since passed.
Indeed, a PWA has become a buzzword in the IT market nowadays. Whether you go to the conference, or to browse through articles related to web technologies, you might meet such a term. There’s no wonder since the progressive web apps are fast, responsive, engaging, reliable, and more to the point, they combine the benefits of both mobile apps and web-pages. 

Such a perfect all-in-one app model looks suspicious and raises many questions: what’s it, how it works, is it so necessary these days. In this article, I’ll get straight all these vague matters out. Let’s start with the definition.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an app?

First time I was googling about PWA I understood nothing. I had to read about 20 articles and rewatch Google’s PWA course and Google I/O keynote to get a clue what does it mean. Here from five first sources in SERP, I would understand PWA is an app, is a website, is an app inside of web, and vice versa if I didn’t search for origin information. As it turns out, it’s none of mentioned in the previous sentence.

In keeping with Google Chrome Developers speeches, I realized that the Progressive Web App is a set of technologies using to extend the possibilities of web-pages so that looks like native apps. 

Tricky, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look to understand what developers use it for. To begin with, you are entitled to know why is it so widely discussed topic.

Why the PWA is necessary

 And here is the answer: 

Source: comScore Mobile Metrix, Dec 2017

According to comScore data, people spend ~9 times less in the browser than in mobile apps. The reason for such ratio is simple: people don’t like to complicate their life provided that there’s a simpler way. Thus, for instance, if your friend had written a message, you would obviously prefer to get a push notification the sooner, the better instead of receiving the message only when go directly on to the social network by the browser.

It may seem like there isn’t a problem. Users strive to use native apps for chatting, playing games, music listening because of usability and functionality and take advantage of searching by the browser. However, the next chart demonstrate the full picture of mobile users behavior:

Source: comScore 

It makes sense. We don’t download a new app for something in case we have installed the another one which performs the same functions well. Consequently, users have no troubles using either app or web-page. 

Dare we say similar words toward the companies providing their software? Not likely.

Every business, which has to implement their product for different devices, has the common challenge. First, they have to develop, for instance, a web-page, and then you develop the apps to your website. An alternative option is to develop a hybrid app, which responds slower. Deciding between these options is hardly in evidence. Still, easy to guess that PWA helps to solve engineers’ headaches related to cross-platform development and its further maintenance. Instead of additional coding for every OS, developers have to use HTML & JS only to build such the app. 

Brief intro of implementation 

Whether guide you read, you will end up applying 3 components:

  • Web App Manifest to provide the information how your app looks like; 
  • Secure origin with HTTPS;
  • Service Worker to cache data from your site, then show it even if there’s no internet connection. 

Add some magic and patience, rest and re-iterate development process, and you’ll create the PWA:

To avoid repeating from every guide, I would merely recommend using the checklist created by Google Webmasters. Likewise, I suggest testing  by Lighthouse to verify you’ve done everything in accordance with these requirements. 

As I mentioned, if you are good at coding by JavaScript, there won’t become a challenge for you. 

Is the PWA impacts on SEO

First thing when you check out the website by Lighthouse, you catch sight of criteria like SEO, performance, accessibility and PWA. It might give the impression that all of those are interdependent. Although John Muller said PWA techniques have no influence upon SERP, there are claims to the contrary so far. 

Who’s right out of there? The truth is two sides of opinions are equal. Let’s clear up the matter. 

On the one hand, John provided correct information: whether you implement the PWA or not, neither Googlebot nor Caffeine consider its existence. On the other, the components of such apps improve aspects which is a factor in Google’s algorithms as well. 

These overlapping factors, obviously, are the page speed and moving to HTTPS. Hence, the PWA performing facilitates to better ranking. Means you will overtake equal progress in search results even if you follow bits of advice for webmasters only.
The next problem might arise is when your web-page ranks worse. This problem lies elsewhere likewise. To be more precise, the reason is wrong written JS-code

After all, the great virtue of the progressive apps is that they are ranked in the results, as opposed to the native ones.

Useful but not for everyone 

There’s no point to argue against web or mobile nowadays. Progressive web apps join the advantages of web-pages and native apps together. I daresay it’s the best solution for companies need to develop their software for multiple platforms along with web. At the same time the decision to apply it doesn’t make sense unless you look for realizing the benefits of PWA. 

For better or worse, this technology set helpless for visitors acquisition but the effective tool for an attraction of prospects using such an app in future. The reasons why brands like Pinterest, Instagram and Forbes use it is evident – they’re aware of their users’ behavior. So why don’t you start with identifying customers need, and only then to use this viral approach?

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