Should you go with Progressive Web Apps (PWA) or Responsive Design Website? That’ll start a heated debate among developers. In this article, we will talk about the differences objectively without taking sides.
With an increase in demand for websites and mobile apps, choosing the right development platform could be the difference between making bank and struggling every step of the way. eCommerce companies need to ensure that they provide a smooth and seamless experience for their visitors so that making purchases are quick. You need a digital store that provides the best features that a website/app should have.
Let us learn about PWAs and Responsive Design Website:
What are PWAs?
PWAs are websites that look and feel like a native app. Since they run directly in the browser, there is no need to download the app from the Google Play Store or the iOS app store. It eliminates a variety of issues ranging from slow networks to data limitation to a complete lack of connectivity.
Example for PWAs:
Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter are some of the best examples for PWAs. You can log in to your Twitter account using your smartphone’s browser and access all the functions that are available. Even Gmail is a PWA where you get an app-like experience when you run it in your browser.
Alibaba.com’s mobile conversions increased by 75% and engagement grew 4x after they switched over to PWAs. Flipkart, one of India’s largest eCommerce websites, released Flipkart Lite when it found it difficult to provide an engaging experience for its customers. The PWA version of Flipkart led to a 70% higher conversion rate for users that installed the app and a 40% higher engagement rate.
Attributes of a PWA:
- App-like interface- It mimics the navigation and interaction of native apps.
- Push notifications- Push notifications are a great way to keep the customers engaged and PWAs allow for it.
- Re-engageable: One can access the re-engagement UIs of the OS, like push notifications.
- Connectivity independent
- Discoverability and easy installation
What is a Responsive Design Website?
It is a development approach that suggests that the development and design of an application should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on platform, screen size, and orientation. For example, when the user switches from their smartphone to an iPad, the website should automatically change to accommodate for the image size, resolution, and scripting requirements. The first responsive design website is said to be that of the German automobile giant Audi in 2002.
Examples of Responsive Web Design:
When shifting from desktop to handheld devices, Dropbox changes font color, background color, and even the orientation of the image changes. GitHub is known to offer the same experience across all devices. Shopify’s user experience is also consistent across all the devices used. There are few changes like the call-to-action buttons and illustrations in different devices. Slack is known for being extremely simple and easy-to-use and you will see that when you use the application extensively.
Attributes of Responsive Web Design:
- Fluid Grids- Websites designed with fluid grids can handle varying screen sizes that are available in the market. It uses a percentage-based calculation instead of pixel-based dimensions.
- CSS Media Queries create great experiences for different devices by adding breaking points that take effect at specific screen sizes.
- Images that are on the web are not usually fluid, but by adding a few configurations, all the images can be made responsive
PWAs vs Responsive Design- Here’s a comparison:
The approaches to web development for PWAs and Responsive Web Design are mostly similar, but there is a lot of difference in the final product. One of the biggest advantages of PWAs is that it delivers features that were exclusively available only to native mobile apps.
Which is faster?
If you want your app to load faster on different mobile devices, then PWAs are the best option. PWAs support older browsers while also incorporating some of the latest features like offline support, push notification, native video, audio capturing, and so on. PWAs can also store valuable information and deliver images, significant web content despite page loads, text stylesheets, etc. It reduces the waiting time for the visitors which in turn increases engagement and reduces churn.
Build apps that app stores don’t allow:
Since PWAs can be installed on the user device, they don’t require permission to be submitted to the app store of Google or iOS. For businesses that are prohibited from loading their apps on these app stores, especially those that are in niches such as gambling, they can create their apps without worrying about not having a platform to host their app, thanks to the PWA technology.
Ability to work offline:
The application cache feature allows websites to store large amounts of data, so you do not require an internet connection to access using a PWA. It allows the users to browse the entire catalogue of the app even in the offline mode. Such a feature is not available when you build responsive design websites.
If you have a budget constraint, then responsive design websites should be the way to go. Since screen sizes are an important consideration while building PWAs, the website for the same has to be developed several times for different devices.
Businesses should come up with products that customers find easy to use and give them what they want. When you are building a custom website, it should not only be suitable for your business needs, but you should also keep in mind how it will affect your target audience.
The app-like features of PWAs such as push notifications, geofencing, periodic sync, offline capabilities, etc., make PWAs the next big thing on the web. A PWA is not going to dramatically change your business overnight, but it gives you enough firepower to make it much better. As we have reiterated over and over, there are a lot of factors that go into developing a custom website. So you need to be clear about what’s best according to your specific requirements and then go about deciding whether to choose PWA or Responsive Web Design.