Progressive Web Apps - The New Websites

The latest evolution for the web has become Progressive Web Apps, standardizing the way we interact with "websites".

Progressive Web Apps - The New Websites

Posted by Scott Wyatt on Aug 5, 2017

Progressive Web Apps are more than a Trend, It's Becoming a Standard

While the name may sound like it has strong political beliefs, Progressive Web Apps are actually just a design mechanism. With the invention of Smart Phones, hundreds of applications have made it into people’s daily lives and the devices have become the “Go To” for knowledge and entertainment. The devices grant native abilities to “point and touch” interfaces, but with the vast majority of Apps on any App store being data driven, most Apps are overkill.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc, had a strong belief that the web held more promise than an app store and fought to introduce more functionality into mobile browsers. Forbes Magazine later called this Jobs’ biggest mistake since the app store has become so profitable. However, here we are in 2017 and interactive websites out number native apps over 100 to 1, and that number grows everyday.

To clear up some nomenclature, the usage of the word “Website” is fairly dated. This refers back to the days where a user would navigate to a web page, follow it to other pages, and that is pretty much it. When Javascript became a browser standard, these pages became interactive, leaving their “site” heritage behind and becoming “Web Apps”. The name “Website” has stuck around like a lingering bad smell, and it’s time to kick the habit.

The latest evolution for the web has become Progressive Web Apps. These are web applications that meet predetermined criteria to be given special native capabilities on smart phones. They are cost effective, have a low barrier to entry, and don’t require the publishing apparatus of App Store apps.

What Makes a Progressive Web App?

To first understand what a Progressive Web App is, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Progressive - The Web App Works for every user, regardless of what browser the user has chosen because it's built with progressive enhancement as a core base.
  • Responsive - The Web App fits any device form factor; from desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever is coming next.
  • Connectivity Independent - The Web App is enhanced with service workers to work offline or on low-quality networks.
  • App-like - It feels like an app, because the app shell model separates the application functionality from the application content. Seamless transitions between view components.
  • Fresh - The Web App is always up-to-date thanks to the service worker update process.
  • Safe - The Web App is served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and to ensure content hasn't been tampered with.
  • Discoverable - The Web App Is identifiable as an "application" thanks to W3C manifest and service worker registration scope, allowing search engines to find it and crawl it.
  • Re-engageable - Makes re-engagement easy through features like push notifications either through the browser or app itself.
  • Installable - Allows users to add apps they find most useful to their home screen without the hassle of an app store or installation.
  • Linkable - The Web App is easily sharable via URL, does not require complex installation.

Examples of Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Some companies have taken the leap into developing Progressive Web Apps (Progressive Web Apps) which better help serve their day-to-day business and users.

  • Ali Express:

  • Snapdrop: Snapdrop is a pretty simple web app that functions as a data transfer system among the app’s users. The only requirement is that the users should be on the same network for the transfer to take place. The web app is very minimalist in design and does the basic function of transferring data without installing any app.

  • The Washington Post: The Washington Post Progressive Web App is an awesome example of a news agency using Service Workers to get the most out of the web. If you've ever worked on a website that loads a lot of third party content, you'll know how important it can be to ensure that the performance of your site isn't affected by 3rd party scripts or services. The Washington Post PWA does a great job of using a Service Worker caching to ensure that their load times stay fast and resilient regardless of the network and load balance.

Progressive Web Apps and Cali Style

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