Websites with push notifications, offline storage and an app icon – What are Progressive Web Apps?

Up until now, you have had two options when building digital experiences for customers:

The Humble Website

First, the website. Accessible through a browser on computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Advantages:
  • Highly accessible on a range of devices
  • Update once and see changes across all kinds of devices
  • Complete freedom to publish whatever you want
Disadvantages:
  • Often runs slower than an app or program
  • Not available without an internet connection

A Traditional App

Second, the smartphone or computer app. Users download these onto their device.

Advantages:
  • Accessible directly from device home screen / desktop
  • Often works without an internet connection available
  • Push notifications to smartphones
  • Can use hardware of the device like the camera or microphone
Disadvantages:
  • Each time a new operating system version is released, you will need to provide updates to your users
  • Every time you publish changes, you will need to go through compliance checks for your app store of choice
  • You need to rely on users to download and install the app in the first place

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive web apps are a new technology that give you the best of both worlds. They allow your customers to use your website as normal, but also gives them the option to download your website onto their smartphone or tablet, and use it like an app.

The crucial difference this has compared to a normal iPhone or Android app for example, is that in this case the website and app are both powered from the same system. Any updates to the website will automatically be updated on the app, including new content, new features, even complete layout or design changes.

Not only that, your customers will also benefit from some of the perks of using a traditional app: they will be able to access the app offline, receive push notifications, and access the app using a button on their home screen alongside their other apps.

You have complete control over the experience your users have when using your website as an app, and it doesn’t have to be identical to your website. For example, you can provide a different interface, so that when used as an app your website can really resemble an app.

What are the benefits of a Progressive Web App?

This approach combines the advantages of both a website and an app:

  • Highly accessible on a range of devices
  • Update once and see changes across all kinds of devices
  • Complete freedom to publish whatever you want
  • Accessible from device home screen / desktop
  • Often works even when no internet connection available
  • Push notifications to smartphones
Possibilities

So what are the possibilities here?

Do you provide handy information on your website? Become a go to source of information for your customers with your company app alongside others such as Google right on your customer’s home screens.

Do you run an online shop? You could offer customers the ability to review their account and view past orders even when offline, or when their data connection is choppy or unstable.

Do you provide training online? Offer your users the ability to take courses even when offline.

Do you use email marketing currently? Would any of these campaigns be better off as a push notification delivered straight to your customer’s devices?

Could your business benefit from a Progressive Web App?

Although this is a very new technology (released in 2018) Huddle Digital already have experience in this space.

We believe this is the future of mobile apps, and we’re keen to talk to you about how you can get ahead of this curve and use it to drive your business forward.

Tom Parson

Written by our Founder & Client Services Director, Tom.

As a founder of Huddle Digital, Tom wanted to create an agency focused on people and building long lasting partnerships. These days, Tom oversees all client accounts and drives our marketing activity. Outside of Huddle, Tom has a passion for cooking, binging Netflix dramas and making music.

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