Progressive Web Apps: How to Build Mobile App on a Budget

Progressive Web Applications have long ago stopped being a mere buzzword. This technology has proved its effectiveness when it comes to driving sales and reducing the bounce rate.

A clear advantage of the PWA technology lies in its cost-effectiveness. Progressive web apps help companies save costs on mobile app development. How so? The thing is that with the PWA approach, businesses do not have to create and promote a separate version for iOS and Android operating systems. Brands launch only one cross-platform application, and that’s all. 

We have already mentioned that PWA technology is beneficial for businesses. But what about the specific results? They are rather impressive, we should say.

For example, by turning their website into a PWA, AliExpress got 82% increase in conversion rate for iOS users. 

At the same time, by building a progressive web app, OLX was able to improve re-engagement by 250% owing to push notifications.

This data indicates that it is the right time to use the services of a reliable PWA development company. Their specialists will offer you a fast and budget-friendly alternative to mobile applications.

How to transform your website into a PWA: the best practices and main tools

To get a better understanding of the PWA development process, let’s discuss the core components of progressive web apps. It will be easier to build a successful PWA if you know how these applications differ from other software solutions.

The key components of progressive web apps:

  • Service Workers

This PWA element acts essentially as proxy servers sitting between web apps, browsers, and the network. Service workers are responsible for creating a seamless offline experience. Besides, they support push notifications and background synchronization.

  • HTTPS

Safety is one of the key qualities that allow us to clarify a website as a progressive web application. This security is ensured by Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This expansion of HTTP protocol guarantees the privacy and integrity of the data in transit. 

Besides, it prevents common man-in-the-middle attacks. 

Finally, thanks to bidirectional encryption, Internet communication is protected against tampering and eavesdropping.

  • Application Shell

We use this term to name a graphic user interface skeleton without any content. Let’s say you have a website that has a header, footer, and two sidebars. Now remove the content and dynamic elements. The static data that will stay intact is the app shell. 

This important PWA element makes your app faster and improves rendering flexibility.

Google Developers display the work of the application shell the following way: 

  • Web App manifest

In simple terms, a web app manifest passes the information about your PWA to browsers. It tells how your progressive web application should perform when users install it on their smartphone, tablet, or desktop. 

What should a standard web manifest file contain? The basic properties include:

  • The PWA name;
  • The set of icons with the size property;
  • The description, specifying the purpose of your app;
  • The URL, which should be opened as soon as the application is launched.
  • Push notifications

Push notifications are known as clickable pop-up alerts that show up on user’s devices, both mobile and desktop ones. 

Users should confirm that they want to receive push notifications first. For this reason, they are showed the following pop-up window with the permission request:

E-commerce brands often use push notifications to engage with their customers. They keep clients updated about discounts, new products, or special offerings.

For example, Flipkart raised the re-engagement rate by 40% after building a progressive web application with push notifications. These alerts sent customers relevant updates from their favourite stores.

The primary tools for building a progressive web app

Regarding the PWA development process, we cannot but mention the most helpful frameworks, technologies, and instruments. 

The list of tools that can come in handy is as follows:

  • Frontend. You can use Vue.js or React for developing the client-side of the progressive web app. Vue is a JavaScript framework that is widely used for creating user interfaces and easy-to-fix applications. React is a JavaScript library famous for a great number of tools and libraries that speed up the PWA development process.
  • Backend. Ruby and Ruby on Rails are great technologies for ensuring the correct back-end logic functioning. Flexibility, thousands of ready modules called gems, and high development speed make Rails a great choice.
  • Service Worker API is an essential element for transforming an existing website into a progressive web application.
  • SCSS/CSS-in-JS/Modular Stylesheets are used for creating web page styles.

We can expand the list of valuable tools by adding solutions provided by Google and Microsoft. They are aimed at moving PWA adoption forward and making the process of building a PWA simple and convenient.

The following tools deserve your special attention:

  • Lighthouse this open-source instrument by Google offers a simple way to measure the quality of web pages. Lighthouse informs you about their performance and search engine optimization. Also, with the help of this tool, you can test whether your progressive web app is compliant with the best practices 
  • Workbox – Google presented this collection of libraries to help developers write and manage service workers.  
  • PWA Builder – Microsoft created this tool to allow coders to transform a website into a progressive web app with little effort. The solution works best for developers who have little experience with progressive web apps.
  • Webpack Module Bundle – this tool proved its effectiveness in implementing the offline functionality to your PWA. However, its steep learning curve makes Webpack a nice choice for experienced developers.

The best PWA development practices

Data flow

When you proceed to PWA development, your first task is to create a data flow for your application. Here you need to define what data requires caching and for how long. Thus, you will be able to ensure stable performance for the end-users of your PWA.

In addition, it will make it easier for you to assess the amount of information that requires caching. It is very important since getting too much data may result in the web browser tab going down. Such a mishap can be explained by the fact that each web browser offers its tabs a pretty limited amount of allocated memory.

Debugging

Android and iOS are completely different operating systems. It means that they interpret objects and place restrictions in diverse ways.

Given that, it is necessary to factor in the specific features of both systems when creating a PWA. This way, you can be sure that the application’s performance will stay flawless regardless of the device.

If you are new to PWA technology, don’t worry. You can always check the comprehensive step-by-step guide provided by Google. With its help, you will transform your existing website into a progressive web app with minimum effort.

Bottom line

Over the recent years, progressive web applications have indeed become a great alternative to native mobile apps. The brands that invested in this advanced technology have seen great results. So why don’t you follow their lead? 

It will not take long to transform your website into a progressive web app if you have the right instruments at hand. The technologies and tools mentioned in this post will speed up the PWA development process significantly.