Progressive Web Apps: The combination of web experience with applications

Progressive Web App

The popularization of smartphones brought a concept that today is nothing new for anyone: the applications. Like computer programs, apps  are software that runs on the device and performs one or more specific tasks. Needless to say, today there are applications for almost any activity, from counting calories to GPS navigators. But while still relatively new, the application concept is already evolving into something even more practical and innovative. The name of this evolution is Progressive Web Apps or PWA .

But what is a Progressive Web App? And why should I, an IT professional, understand this concept? In the next few paragraphs, I will explain what this trend is and how it can impact a number of industries, even the technology area as a whole (without exaggeration).

Progressive-web-apps

The Progressive Web App, in fact, is a term used to refer to a new methodology of application development. To understand this concept, one must decompose (from back to front) the term and understand each of its parts.

The expression “Web App” pretty much kills the riddle. And you’ll soon understand why. An application, when developed, is placed inside a “wrapper”, as if it were a “closed box” for the program. When the user opens this box, you have access to the features of this app and can use it normally.

A web page has a slightly different operation. When you visit a website, the user gradually receives the contents of the server until the page is fully loaded. The analogy here is that of an “open box” that is going to have its content being gradually exposed to the user.

The PWA is the fusion of these two concepts. When opening an application, the user will not be opening the “closed box” of that program. Instead, it will be interacting with “open box” from where it will slowly and gradually remove the content and only what is needed to use it at first. If there is a need, the user may have access to the “closed box”, but only after understanding that he needs something beyond what the “open box” offers.

Progressive Web App in Practice

If this analogy was not enough to understand the concept, let’s use a practical example. Let’s say you have your smartphone and need to book a room in a hotel anywhere in your city. Generally you would have two technological alternatives: access the company website through and make your reservation or download the application to complete your application.

Great is the chance that the first option – accessing the company’s website – will not be a very pleasant experience. Many companies have unfortunately not adapted their pages to respond appropriately to the tiny size of mobile devices – which is technically called a responsive page. That way, completing your reservation request can turn into a real “technological torture” if you do not have the patience.

So the best alternative would be to use the hotel app, correct? Yes, but this option also brings some problems. As a number of companies went on the wave of developing their own applications, there came a time when people had more apps on their systems than they really needed. Have you ever imagined having an app for every hotel you visit? Not to mention the apps of malls, shops and many other establishments and businesses.

Another problem that exists in the option to download the service application that we are going to use is the connection. In many places there is no quality internet available, which can be an impediment to downloading and installing the desired app. So, despite the most enjoyable experience, using a specific application for a specific purpose is not always the best solution.

But after all, what is the best solution? This is the proposal of the PWA methodology, which mixes the practicality of web pages with the quality of service offered by the applications. In the hotel situation, for example, a user attempting to make a reservation on the smartphone would use a simplified version of the app that merges the best of both worlds. This is the solution proposed by this innovative concept.

PWA Success Stories

While all this talk seems to be a long way from us, professionals (and even more from the end user), there are cases where the PWA methodology has had a significant impact on people’s (and business) lives. The most well-known case, and usually the one most used to represent cases of successful implementation of this concept, is that of Flipkart.

Flipkart is India’s largest e-commerce. The PWA version of the service application is Flipkart Lite, an app that resulted in a 70% increase in sales conversions. From a business point of view, this is an astronomical success. But the implementation has also brought other positive results, such as a longer time spent on the site (which increased 3 times), increased engagement (40% increase) and data consumption almost 3 times lower by mobile devices.

There are many other success stories and services that directly impact the lives of end users. The AliExpress , The Washington Post and Housing are just a few examples that are commonly used to demonstrate the successful implementation and the advantages of using the PDA methodology.

Google, one of the strong supporters of this concept, hosts a page that is updated monthly with success stories using Progressive Web Apps. If you want to better understand how this concept works correctly (and how to apply), I suggest you visit the site and explore the many successful cases listed there.

How to create your Progressive Web App?

Although I have studied extensively on the subject, my deepening was not enough to learn how to create a Progressive Web App. Much less teach to do this. But fortunate for those who are looking for this type of content, there are high quality materials spread over the internet.

The perfect example is Google’s own website on the subject , which teaches you how to create the first PWA. In addition to showing a complete step-by-step (and in Portuguese), the page further helps developers learn important concepts from this methodology and how to expand knowledge to other areas. There is even an invitation to get to know the success cases, such as those I mentioned some paragraphs above.

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