Progressive Web-App: Warum PWAs so beliebt sind und wofür sich die Anwendungen eignen
Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Latori GmbH

Progressive Web App: Why PWAs are so popular and what they are suitable for

A Progressive Web App, or PWA for short, is a hybrid website that has the same features as a classic smartphone app. However, these web apps are accessed via a browser.

Progressive Web Apps are indexed by Google like regular websites and could play an important role in mobile optimization in the future.

But are these progressive apps serious competition for native apps? What exactly differentiates them from classic web apps? We show you how Progressive Web Apps work and explain the advantages.

Do you need support with app development for your store? As Shopify experts, we are happy to assist you. Contact us.

Progressive Web App Definition: What is a PWA?

Progressive web apps (PWA) are a further development of existing web apps and have all the advantages of a native app. However, they don't need to be installed first and are much easier to create, crawl, and visit.

A Progressive Web App is accessible via a URL on the Internet and runs directly in the browser - so it can basically run on different operating systems. Unlike a traditional web app, Progressive Web Apps can also run offline. The loading times are often lower than for common websites and they can adapt to any screen size thanks to their responsive design. Since a PWA can be accessed via a URL just like a website, companies can also benefit from search engine optimization.

Progressive web apps on different operating systems

Progressive web apps (PWAs) offer a cross-platform solution for an optimized user experience. On various operating systems such as Android, iOS and Windows, they enable native, app-like interaction directly via the browser. PWAs use modern web technologies to offer fast loading times, offline functionalities and push notifications. They adapt dynamically to different screen sizes and offer a consistent user experience regardless of the device or operating system used. Due to their flexibility and efficiency, PWAs are a popular choice for companies that want to appeal to a broad target group while minimizing development costs. However, there are limitations on iOS compared to other operating systems such as Android. Certain features such as push notifications and adding to the home screen may not be as seamlessly integrated.

Some progressive web app examples of noteworthy brands are Pinterest, Uber, WhatsApp, and Airbnb.

Reading tip: Mobile commerce is becoming increasingly important. In this article, we show you the most important facts.

a man standing in front of a computer and holding a smartphone in his hand as a symbol for progressive web apps

How do Progressive Web Apps work?

PWAs work on the basis of so-called "service workers". In short, these are Java scripts that enable content to be loaded in the cache in the background. Progressive Web Apps can also work offline, as no Internet connection is required.

When a Progressive Web app is developed, the tasks of the service workers are defined and stored as a script. In this way, program sequences can be defined, each of which triggers predefined events depending on certain events. This enables the content of the PWAs to be loaded even before a link is clicked. Depending on user interaction, the app therefore already knows what content is being requested and does not have to reload it via the Internet connection. This means that users do not have to put up with long loading times, which significantly enhances the user experience.

Reading tip: Learn how to test website speed with Shopify.

In addition, an application shell is required so that the PWA can work with any browser. This guarantees that a mobile view of the URL is generated and the app is adapted to the functionality of the respective browser. It also ensures that the design of the PWA resembles a native app. The application shell is loaded into the cache when the PWA is invoked.

Another important component for Progressive Web Apps to work is the Web App Manifest of a JSON file that is stored on the server. This makes it possible for the users of the PWA to save the app on their end device after invoking it like a conventional app.

Native vs. Progressive Web Apps - the Differences

Since PWAs are a new development in the field of app applications, there are of course crucial differences to previous technologies.

Probably the biggest difference between progressive web apps and ordinary native apps is that PWAs run in the browser. Even though they are installed on a mobile device and behave like traditional apps, the browser is still active in the background.

This also results in certain limitations. For example, the iOS browser Safari does not support all the features of PWAs. However, the development of PWA technology is still in an early phase. It can therefore be assumed that further functions and improvements will follow.

Reading tip: With these tips you will succeed in online store optimization.

Most apps today are often no longer "normal" apps, but so-called hybrid apps that are also executed via a browser. A hybrid app is basically also a website - but it is programmed with certain native app technologies. The combination of web and native app technologies means that hybrid apps hardly differ from conventional apps. However, the programming of these apps is much higher compared to a progressive web app.

a man sits in front of a computer with a cup of coffee next to him

The advantages of Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are designed to combine the advantages of websites and apps while avoiding their disadvantages. More and more companies are taking advantage of this.

Here's a summary of how a Progressive Web App can benefit you:

  • Fast loading times: PWAs are designed to load quickly, regardless of internet connection. This significantly improves the user experience and reduces bounce rates.

  • Offline capability: PWAs can be used without an Internet connection. Users can access already loaded content and features, which is especially useful in regions with unreliable connectivity.

  • Responsive design: PWAs automatically adapt to different screen sizes and devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. This reduces development effort and ensures consistent rendering.

  • App-like experience: PWAs provide an app-like user experience without requiring users to download and install a separate app. This saves storage space on the device and eliminates the app download hurdle.

  • No app stores required: PWAs can be accessed directly from web pages without the need to publish to app stores. This greatly simplifies app distribution and updates.

  • Low development effort: PWAs leverage common web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Developers can reuse existing code, saving time and resources.

  • Easy updates: PWAs are automatically updated without requiring users to manually install updates. This ensures that users always use the latest version of the application.

  • Better visibility: PWAs can be indexed by search engines, resulting in better visibility in search results. This is especially important for businesses.

  • Push notifications: PWAs can send push notifications to alert users to updates or offers. This increases user engagement and the chances of repeat visits.

  • Security: PWAs require the use of HTTPS, which ensures data security and application integrity.

  • Cross-platform: PWAs are cross-platform and work on multiple operating systems, including Android, iOS, and Windows.

  • Low development cost: PWAs are less expensive to develop and maintain than building native apps for different platforms.

  • Improved conversion rates: Due to fast load times, better user experience, and offline capability, PWAs can lead to higher conversion rates.

What does this mean for you exactly? First, your customers can browse your store even if their Internet connection is poor. The prerequisite is that they have already visited your site when they had a connection to the Internet. Functions that then actually have to be done online (e.g. paying or sending an order) can be made up for later. The PWA stores the current state for an indefinite period of time. Processes that require an Internet connection start in the background as soon as the device has a connection again. Once a customer has "installed" your PWA, its permanent presence ensures that they always remember your store and can reach it quickly. All it takes is a simple tap to navigate to it. Moreover, it's not easy to get placed in the Play or App Store in the first place. An app has to go through a lengthy process to do so, which often ends in rejection. With a PWA, you also bypass this problem and have the freedom to decide where and how to promote your app.

Reading tip: Learn more about app development with Shopify.

SEO and PWAs: What impact do they have on search engine optimization?

PWA and SEOProgressive Web Apps (PWAs) can have a positive impact on search engine optimization (SEO) and offer the opportunity to achieve better visibility and rankings in search results. Here are some ways PWAs impact SEO and best practices in their development:

  • Fast load times: One of the most important SEO factors is the speed of a website. PWAs are designed to load quickly, even on slow internet connections. This improves the user experience and can have a positive impact on rankings.

  • Mobile Optimization: because PWAs are inherently mobile-friendly and adapt on different devices, they help improve rankings in mobile search results. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results.

  • Secure connection: PWAs require the use of HTTPS, which not only ensures the security of user data, but is also rewarded by Google. Websites with HTTPS tend to have better rankings.

  • Low bounce rates: By providing a smooth user experience and fast loading times, PWAs can help reduce bounce rates. Low bounce rates are a positive signal for search engines.

  • Push notifications: PWAs can send push notifications to alert users to updates or offers. This can increase user engagement and encourage repeat visits to the website.

  • Offline capability: the offline capability of PWAs allows users to access content even when they don't have an Internet connection. This can help increase dwell time on the website, which can have a positive impact on SEO.

  • Linkability: PWAs can be linked to via URLs, which can lead to more linking and backlinks, which in turn improves rankings.

  • Mobile-First Indexing: Google has switched to mobile-first indexing, which means that the mobile version of a website is used for ranking and indexing. PWAs that are inherently mobile-friendly are well prepared for this change.

Reading tip: Our SEO Guide helps you with your search engine optimization.

Best practices for SEO optimization of PWAs.

  • Meta tags optimization: make sure titles, meta descriptions and meta keywords are correct and relevant.

  • XML sitemaps: Create an XML sitemap for the PWA to help Google index it.

  • Canonical Tags: Use canonical tags to ensure that search engines index the correct version of the page.

  • Schema Markup: Implement Schema Markup to help search engines better understand the content of the page.

  • Robots.txt: Review and update the robots.txt file to ensure search engines can properly crawl the PWA.

  • Responsive Images: Optimize images for different screen sizes and resolutions to minimize loading time.

  • Mobile optimization: make sure the PWA looks and works well on mobile devices.

  • Backlink strategy: develop a backlink strategy to get quality backlinks.

  • Monitoring and analytics: use tools like Google Analytics to monitor PWA performance and track SEO metrics.

By following these best practices and considering SEO factors, PWAs can help increase visibility in search results and optimize user experience.

The future of Progressive Web Apps

The future of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) looks promising and they will play a significant role in the field of web development and mobile applications. Here are some trends and developments that could impact the future of PWAs:

  • Penetration and adoption: PWAs will continue to gain popularity as companies realize the benefits of fast load times, offline capability and ease of use. This will lead to greater adoption of PWAs.

  • E-commerce and online shopping: PWAs will become increasingly important in the e-commerce space as they provide a seamless user experience across multiple devices. Integration of payment and shipping options in PWAs will continue to improve.

  • Integration with operating systems: Progressive Web Apps could be more deeply integrated with mobile operating systems in the future, leading to even more app-like behavior. This could help further close the gap between PWAs and native apps.

  • Improved push notifications: Push notification functionality in PWAs is expected to be enhanced to enable more personalized and relevant notifications.

  • Voice commerce: With the increasing adoption of voice-controlled assistants and devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, PWAs may be optimized for voice commerce to enable users to shop via voice commands.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): PWAs could be integrated into AR and VR experiences to create immersive user experiences.

  • Development tools and frameworks: the tools and frameworks for developing PWAs will continue to be improved and optimized to make it easier for developers to create high-quality PWAs.

  • Offline Capability and Progressive Enhancement: the offline capability of PWAs will continue to improve, and Progressive Enhancement will play a key role in ensuring that PWAs work in environments with limited connectivity.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): The integration of AI technologies into PWAs will help deliver personalized content and recommendations to optimize the user experience.

  • App Stores and Distribution: App stores could continue to support PWAs and integrate them into their ecosystems, increasing the visibility and accessibility of PWAs.

  • Offline apps for desktop: PWAs may expand to the desktop, enabling offline use on computers as well.

  • Future web standards: The development of future web standards and technologies will further advance the capabilities of PWAs and enable new features.

Overall, Progressive Web Apps will play an important role in the future of mobile and web-based applications. They offer a cost-effective and user-friendly solution for businesses to reach their target audiences and provide a better user experience. It is likely that Progressive Web Apps will continue to integrate innovative technologies and features in the coming years.

Conclusion: How can Progressive Web Apps be used in a Shopify Store?

As you could notice, the advantages of progressive web apps are obvious and promising. The apps don't require a download, are automatically updated every time they are called up, and don't necessarily require an Internet connection.

Moreover, for an existing online store, upgrading to a PWA is relatively easy. However, for the integration of more extensive functions into the PWA, it is advisable to consult an expert. For Shopify, there are some apps in the App Store to turn your Shopify store into a progressive web app. The benefit: A progressive web app would allow your customers to browse through your Shopify store and view your products offline!

Besides the option of implementing PWAs through Shopify apps, there is also the option of custom development.

We will be happy to advise you on what makes the most sense for your company! Contact us.

Frequently asked questions about Progressive Web Apps

What is a progressive web app (PWA)?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are hybrid websites that have characteristics of classic smartphone apps, but are accessible through a browser and can be used without an Internet connection. Like a website, a PWA can run on multiple platforms and devices with a single code base.

Why should you use progressive web apps?

Progressive web apps combine the strengths of two worlds, as they combine the advantages of native apps and websites. In other words, they are an evolution of the mobile website and offer numerous benefits, such as lower loading times or independence from an Internet connection.

What does a PWA cost?

The development of a PWA involves less costs than that of a native app. There are also no listing costs in app stores, as PWAs can be promoted independently of them.

Are progressive web apps the apps of the future?

Thanks to their sophisticated technical foundations and the great support from Google, it is quite conceivable that progressive web apps will be as widespread on mobile devices as native apps in the future. Numerous companies are already relying on the advantages of these apps, and large as well as smaller companies will join them in the future.

Native vs. progressive web apps - what's the difference?

There are key differences between PWAs and native apps. Progressive web apps are executed in the browser and score with faster loading times and are also not tied to the Play or App Store.

How does a PWA work?

PWAs use modern web technologies to provide a fast, reliable, and interactive user experience. Overall, PWAs offer the benefits of native apps, such as fast load times, offline access, and push notifications, while maintaining the simplicity and accessibility of websites. This makes them an attractive solution for businesses that want to provide their customers with a smooth mobile experience without having to develop separate native apps.

What can a Progressive Web App do?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) can offer a wide range of features and benefits inspired by both traditional websites and native apps. Some of the key things a PWA can do are offline capability, fast loading, responsive user interface, app-like behavior, push notifications, and automatic updates.

Do Progressive Web Apps work on IOS?

Yes, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) work on iOS devices. However, there are some limitations compared to other operating systems such as Android. Some features such as push notifications and adding to the home screen may not be as seamlessly integrated on iOS.

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