5th July 2019

Progressive web applications. 

Progressive web applications.

The rise of Progressive Web Applications is certainly visible, but is it the future of online retail for mobile users?

Magento PWA studio.

The latest version of Magento (2.3) was released with the ‘Magento PWA studio’ which, although currently still a work in progress, allows Magento developers to create e-commerce stores that behave like apps. These sites are known as ‘Progressive Web Applications’ (PWAs) and have been rising in popularity over the last few years. Even Google* itself is an advocate of PWAs and offer their own codebase for developers to create their own.

So, what are the benefits of having a PWA, as opposed to a standard responsive mobile site? There are a number of benefits, including:

  • They can load a site faster than a typical responsive website, as more data is stored on the user’s device
  • They can offer offline access
  • Push notifications can be utilised
  • The site can be loaded full-screen, as opposed to having a browser UI surrounding the site
  • The app can be added to the user’s phone, allowing for faster access and more visibility (also, they can be added without having to download via an app store)

Essentially, most of the functionality you would expect from a standard app can be achieved using a PWA. This allows developers to create more engaging and feature-rich websites for a large and steadily-increasing mobile market.

Magento are clearly also seeing the benefit that PWAs can have for mobile stores by offering the ‘Magento PWA Studio’ in their last release. Though being early in development, it comes with a flexible and extendable store theme. Also, along with the features available to PWAs, it also gives developers access to other forms of secure payment, making a checkout process easier and more enticing to users, which all lends itself to higher conversion rates.

Although still in its relatively ‘early days’, PWAs could become the future of mobile web browsing, especially for news, media and e-commerce websites where repeated user engagement is encouraged. Even Desktop Web Apps are starting to be supported on some modern browsers, allowing similar benefits as mobile web apps and also allowing users to be able to add the app to their device just like their other apps. Currently, the main hurdle for PWAs is that certain devices and browsers do not support all the features available. However, as the list for support grows, PWAs are likely to become more and more commonplace.

* https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps

Author: Anthony Southworth