Making Your Website Work Like an App

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The number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses three billion and is forecast to increase every year by a couple hundred million, according to Statista.

As they say in business, it’s all about location, location, location.

Most websites today are responsive and when brought up on a mobile phone, the site design changes to fit to the amount of space available on the screen to display cleanly and professionally. And for most organizations this is adequate but if you are thinking of building a mobile app or want a couple of added features for your site then keep reading.

To meet customer demand, websites dealing in product or service-oriented marketplaces have to provide a fast, easy, and seamless mobile experience. This is where mobile apps and progressive web apps (PWAs) shine.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are known to be quick, responsive and work with an app like user interface. Built like a traditional web app, these modified versions function similarly to native apps and are able to provide a seamless user experience.

From a user perspective, progressive web apps provide more functionality than just opening a responsive website on a mobile browser:

  • Can be added to the home screen on a mobile device for quicker access
  • Can be packaged to appear in App Stores and downloaded
  • Capable of offline mode when internet is not available
  • Faster loading on mobile
  • Push notifications are possible

If you need more features like access to the microphone, GPS or calendar of the mobile device than a native mobile app is needed. There are still some limitations to a PWA but one of the main differences between choosing to build a native app or progressive web app is cost.

Difference Between PWA and Native

Native mobile apps operate optimally on either iOS or Android devices and have to be installed from their associated marketplace. This allows a native app to use the full range of features and functionality a mobile device offers. Here are some additional differences between a progressive web app and native mobile app:

  • Cost — Building a custom web application is costly in its own right and today all websites should be responsive to display well on many different screen dimensions. A native app can easily cost more than twice that of the web application if you want to build for both Android and iOS devices.
  • Performance — Native apps are built to optimize the device functionality and will perform better in various features including geolocation, storing/retrieving more data locally and processing of background tasks which is not allowed through a PWA.
  • SEO Friendly— Since a progressive web app is rendered like a webpage, it can be crawled and any content captured by the web crawler will appear on internet searches. If you are selling products or services through your PWA then they will appear in search listings. This is not the case with a mobile app.

Ten years ago, responsive websites were not as mainstream but now it’s rare to visit a website on your mobile device that isn’t responsive. Progressive web apps are becoming more and more popular to enhance the mobile experience. To build your audience, you have to be where their eyes are.