These days, the discussion about Progressive Web Apps is often primarily focused on whether they will replace native apps or not. And while this might be an interesting topic to talk about, people forget about the first and foremost intent PWAs were built for: Enhancing the web’s user experience.
However, ignoring this can come to you at a high cost. No matter if you have a native app or not. This article should help you in evaluating PWA technology.
The Misleading Battle: PWA vs. Native Apps
Discussing PWAs, it seems like one question is ubiquitous: Which app model will be the most promising in the future? Not only on social media but also in companies the debates are quite the same. A lot of people solely focus on the question if they either should build a PWA or native app. A lot of people solely focus on the question if they either should build a PWA or a native app and if PWAs will have a future at all.
But this discussion can mislead you quickly.
At least if you see it from a PWA point of view, you should not care about the PWA vs. native apps battle at all. If you have a mobile web audience, you should always go for the PWA approach. As against native apps, it is not in question that PWAs won’t survive. As long as the web exists, PWAs will exist.
For the simple reason that PWAs were built for enhancing the web’s user experience and not to replace native apps. The ongoing battle between PWAs and native apps can be seen more like a byproduct of it. By empowering the web’s capabilities, PWAs threaten native apps and not vice versa.
Yet, if you still want to have the discussion, see it this way: Whether PWAs will replace native apps or not, to build a PWA is a safe bet if you think it is likely that the web will stay around for a while. The worst that can happen if you build a PWA and they won’t replace native apps is that people will have better web experiences.
If You Have a Web Audience, You Should Have a PWA
Decoupling PWAs from this misleading discussion about the superior app model is key to value the technology objectively for your business or project. The only question you should ask yourself is how crucial is the web audience for the success of your venture.
For example, if you have an e-commerce website with an already-built, well-performing native app, one could argue that you don’t need to care about PWAs at all. By providing a native app, you have a perfect mobile experience. However, considering that the reach of the mobile web is still significantly larger than the reach of native apps, you implicitly weaken the experience for most of your users by ignoring the enhancements that PWAs offer you.
Today, this might not be a problem because PWAs are still relatively new. But once users will become accustomed to it, it can harm your business if you don’t provide a state-of-the-art web experience.
So, if you want to have a happy web audience, try out some PWA features. I really like about PWAs that it is just a concept. You can individually pick the technological pieces that make sense for your project and apply them. And since all PWA features are implemented as a progressive enhancement, you are not even excluding users with older browsers.
If you want to learn more about PWAs, I can recommend to you the following articles as well as Google’s and Mozilla’s docs.
Progressive Web Apps 101: the What, Why and How Progressive Web Apps in 2020: Which Challenges To Overcome?
And finally, thanks for reading!