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How to Build a Progressive Web Application with React JS Under Low Budget

Arpatech Jul 03, 2019
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Progressive Web Apps (PWA) reap the benefits of new technologies to bring users the finest of mobile sites & native applications. They are reliable, fast, and engaging. They stem from a secure source and load regardless of the network state.

Let’s Begin With ‘Why’ and ‘What’ of PWA and React JS

Have you ever seen a “Add to Home Screen” banner while scrolling a website? The “application” installs itself in the background when you click the button. When you enter this application, which is now in your app drawer, you can browse the same experience you’ve had on your browser, but right now in your mobile phone. What you now have is a mobile app that has been downloaded from a web application. All this without even seeing an app store’s face.

Getting the app was just that easy! But it’s not even the best part. When you open this app, you’ll be able to browse the content even if you don’t have internet. You have access to the app offline! What you’ve encountered is a Progressive Web App (PWA). It allows you to install the application from the browser window itself, is accessible as a native app on your mobile, and works offline, just like a native app. Progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages (or websites) and a mobile application.

But what does it imply to be progressive for a web app? Let’s take a closer look at what progressive web applications are, why I believe they’re better than native applications, and what makes them unique from traditional web applications.

What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

Progressive Web App is not a new framework or technology. It’s a set of best practices to create a web application similar to a desktop or mobile application. The plan is to have such a uniform and seamless experience that the user cannot tell the difference between a Progressive Web App and a native mobile app. It offers user experience via progressive enhancement. It actually implies that a PWA will perform the same operations on a new iPhone 8 as on an older generation iPhone. Although certain features may not be present, the app will continue to work and perform as it should.

Why do we need PWAs?

Progressive web apps take advantages of latest web development frameworks and tools. There are multiple reasons why we need them today, but here are a few of the top facilities it provides:

Integrated user experience: PWAs feel and act like native applications. They sit in the home screen of a user, send push notifications like native applications, and have access to the functionalities of a device like native apps. The experience is streamlined and integrated.

Fast: PWAs provide consistently fast experiences. Everything takes place really quickly from the time a user downloads an app to the time they begin interacting with it. Since you can cache the data, restarting the app is incredibly quick, even without hitting the network.

Engaging: Since we can send notifications to a customer, we can really fuel the engagement by keeping the user notified and engaged with the app.

Dependable experience: With the help of service staff, even when the network has failed, we can reliably paint an image on a user’s screen.

What is React JS?

ReactJS is basically an open-source JavaScript library that is used specifically for single-page apps to build user interfaces. It’s used for handling view layer for web and mobile apps. React also enables us to generate reusable UI components. React was first developed by Jordan Walke, a Facebook software engineer.

It is a “declarative, efficient, and flexible JavaScript library for building user interfaces” as described by its creators. Simply stated, it helps you to develop a quick, easy and scalable frontend for web applications.

Why you should choose React JS?

Now, the main question arises that why one should use ReactJS. There are so many open-source platforms to facilitate the development of the front-end web application, such as Angular. Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of React to other competitive technologies or frameworks

  • Development efficiency – Less development time and higher quality
  • Flexible and easy to maintain
  • High performance of your app
  • SEO friendly – more visibility for your site
  • Open source with rich toolset
  • Easy transition to React Native
  • Strong community

How to Build a Progressive Web App Using React JS

Google has published a checklist of Progressive Web apps items. We will explain here four minimum requirements for building progressive web apps using React JS:

1. Web App Manifest

To make your application installable, you must include a manifest.json in the root directory of the application. You can think of it as a description of your request, similar to what you could submit to the App Store. It contains icons, a splash screen, a name and a description. We can write this manifest file ourselves or we can use tools to create one for us.

2. Register a Service Worker

Service workers are event-driven employees who work in the background of an application and behave as a proxy between the network and the application. They are able to intercept background network requests and cache information for us. This can be used to store data for offline usage. They are a javascript script that listens to activities like fetch and installs and executes tasks.

3. Icon

This is used when a user installs the PWA in their application drawer to provide an app icon. A jpeg image is just going to be fine. The manifest tool helps to generate icons for various formats, and are very helpful.

4. Served Over HTTPS

In order to be a PWA, the React JS web application must be served over a secure network. Being a safe site is not only a best practice, but it also defines your web application as a trusted site for users showing trust and reliability and avoiding middle-man attacks. SSL provides an additional layer of security to the web, helping your consumers feel safe when using your site. HTTPS is crucial for using service workers with PWAs and enabling home screen installation. You can buy an SSL certificate from your domain registrar at a little cost and then configure it through your hosting service.

5. Analyze App’s Performance

Performance is PWAs’ heart and soul. Your app should be speedy on all network conditions for customers. Caching and offline functionality helps a lot, but your application should be fast at the end of the day, even if the user does not have the browser to help service worker technology. This is the definition of progressive enhancement–providing everyone with a positive experience, regardless of device modernity or network conditions.

Top Market Trends of Progressive Web App (PWA)

trend-of-pwa

  • Conversational Interactions

Jumping into the first trend, conversational interactions are gaining popularity as a way to interact directly with a device (not just mobile as a matter of fact), in fact, a user can actually talk with the app. But this is nothing new for the mobile – Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have introduced this in their products for a long time, not too many developers are conscious that you can use a mobile phone’s microphone through the recent HTML5 framework. So, anything is theoretically possible and the amazing thing about conversational interactions is that you can use your app without even touching the phone. Which is useful in certain situations, this can be a valuable safety characteristic –for instance when driving. But it can also simply give an additional layer of usability. We expect to see these become a key component of how applications are used in the future.

  • Access Data Offline

More and more individuals want to use their applications offline for different purposes. It’s good for those who want to frequent an app, or perhaps want to save information, and even cut battery consumption that can be a real advantage in everyday life. This is possibly one of the greatest benefits of native applications and one of the mobile web’s biggest pitfalls. Progressive web apps builders have opened the doors to offline installation with nearly no friction. This is all feasible owing to the service worker that can be integrated in PWA’s to allow the entire app to function without an internet connection. This effectively allows for a frictionless offline experience and is something that will be implemented with each passing year for more and more internet applications. We expect more and more businesses to make the leap for a PWA to access this functionality–particularly those with less updated websites that are primarily static. One of the more common benefits that are not frequently addressed is the sheer size of a once-downloaded PWA – it’s minuscule compared to a native app, in fact, they take up 25 x less space on a device.

  • Multi-Channel Push Messages

Push notifications are a great way to market a company in the contemporary age. Multi-channel marketing is nothing new, but it is using multiple channels and push notifications is one of them. The only way to use push notifications so far is to have a native app, but with a PWA you can use push notifications in your marketing operations when attempting to reach your audience on a mobile. But mobile aside, with the latest web standards it is also possible to send push notifications to desktops with a web push notification. It allows you to truly develop cohesive marketing campaigns that reach your customer on whatever platform they might be on at various stages of their customer journey. Although relying too much on push messaging may frustrate customers, there is no denying that it is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal and it will continue to grow in popularity for many years to come as a key element of your marketing plan.

  • Touch Gestures

Touch gestures are becoming a standard for how customers on the mobile web should communicate with content. It can shape the way your content is experienced. However, if you want it to be effective, you need to be sure to get them right. A clunky touch gesture is so much worse than just not having it at all. But executed properly, it’s one of the best features around. Generally, keeping it simple is what works like keeping it as effective and user-friendly as possible.

How it Cuts Down the Cost of Development

As per a research, an average person spends 80 percent of his total time on applications on only three of his applications (for instance Chrome, Quora and Medium). For most of this time, the other apps are just sitting idle consuming a valuable portion of the memory. It also costs about ten times to create an app instead of developing a website for the same. The price can be much greater if you plan to create and keep distinct code bases for different platforms such as Android, iOS, and the web.

Here I will mention some of the incredible ways to build a progressive web app under low budget:

Readymade templates

How to reduce app development cost? Go for ready-made templates. As useful as building things from scratch is, it’s not very cost-effective. There are many templates available for use online and would fit rightly with any app. Use of ready-made templates will reduce the time and cost of the app development process.

UI/UX Simplicity

One of the strategies to reduce the cost of developing apps is to go for easy yet elegant designs. The simple UI design is particularly essential for new customers since adaptation becomes easy. Most applications and websites opt for a minimalist design that is greatly inexpensive to design.

Outsourcing

Hiring dedicated engineering teams and outsourcing the project to them remains an absolute favorite cost-saving strategy for both large and medium-sized businesses. The obvious advantages it brings include time savings, end-to-end service rendering, and access to big talent pools. Hiring experts would be a wise idea as they provide advice to reduce the cost of developing mobile apps throughout the process.

Minimum Viable Product

MVP or a Minimum Viable Product is a prototype of your mobile application that is still in the process of development. Typically, an MVP would involve basic functionality, user interface, and business logic. This can prove to be a perfect tool for businesses to test how the target audience will respond to the app they are preparing to launch for them. You can begin adding all those secondary features once you verify that the demand exists and start getting revenue. It not only reduces expenses but also ensures against possible failure.

Investing in PWA

If you are one of the growing startups and want to keep up with the pace of ever-changing technology then this is the high time to invest in the progressive web app framework. Here are a few factors that might motivate you to invest in progressive web applications.

  • Increase Reach – Google Chrome announced 1 Billion active monthly customers in just 4 years from its first launch. Growth is anticipated to be more than double in the coming years. Check out the recent information published by ComScore, which says consumers spend 2.5x times on mobile web applications versus the top 1000 native/hybrid applications.
  • Improved Conversion – Conversion is another important matrix that explains the real transactions made by acquired customers. Flipkart, AliExpress and other big players, have effectively used this strategy to move to the PWA and have seen massive improvements in their conversion rates.

For different platforms, PWAs do not require different versions. They cost much less to develop and maintain. Unlike native mobile apps, PWAs do not require installation and are indexable by search engines, leading to increased discoverability and fewer hindrances to adoption. PWA (Progressive Web Apps) development is cheaper and more effective. Thus, it is the best choice for your business to boost conversion rates.

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