August 17, 2021 – 7 minute read
Launching Your PWA Storefront
Over the last few blogs, we’ve been writing about progressive web apps (PWA), a new approach to web development that delivers app-like shopping experiences to mobile and desktop shoppers, and the numerous benefits it offers you and your customers.
At this point you may be wondering; how do I get started in launching a PWA storefront?
Basic PWA Development Cycle
In our first blog post of these series, we talked about the basic requirements of a PWA app: secure context, service workers, and web app manifest.
Those basic requirements more or less map to the overall PWA development cycle. In a nutshell, you’ll need to:
Create an application shell
Many, but not all, PWA sites use an application shell or app shell. This is the minimal amount of code required to present the user interface to your store visitors. In the second blog post, we talked about the importance of the largest content paint (LCP). This tells users that they’re reached a viable site.
The app shell architecture is useful in that it loads the user screens quickly and reliably and can load the initial HTML without a network.
Implement a service worker
Service workers are scripts that work in the background of the user’s browser doing tasks like handling network requests and can cache a wide range of items locally (images, pages, etc.).
Add push notifications
Although not a technical requirement, push notifications help keep your store top-of-mind. You can use them to inform your customers of sales and other activities that drive traffic to your eCommerce store.
Create a Web App Manifest
The web app manifest, according to Google, is “a JSON file that tells the browser about your PWA app and how it should behave when installed on the user’s desktop or mobile device. A typical manifest file includes the app name, the icons the app should use, and the URL that should be opened when the app is launched.”
There are resources out there to help you develop your PWA site if you have an in-house development team with the right skills to build it. However, partnering with an industry-leading commerce expert like Silk can help you get started quickly with a proven PWA solution. Silk can also customize the solution to meet your exact needs.
Traditional Website vs. Native APP vs. PWA
If you are considering relaunching or redesigning your site, the first step is to settle on an approach. Should you build a traditional website that is mobile responsive? That’s certainly an option, but if a substantial number of your customers visit your site via a mobile device you may want to reconsider.
Responsive web design isn’t fully optimized for all screen sizes, unless you opt for a mobile-first approach. More disconcerting, your mobile users are likely to experience slower performance, as mobile pages often have file sizes that equal those of their desktop counterparts.
Native apps deliver a terrific user experience, but they also have areas where they can be problematic. A native app can’t be used until a user actually installs it on his or her phone, and consumers are generally reticent to install apps these days, per comScore data. Even if they install it, they will still need to update it regularly.
Native apps also impose some heavy burdens on you, the store owner. To begin, they are not one-size fits all, which means you’ll need to design, build, test, deploy, and maintain an app for your desktop, Android and iOS users. This contrasts with PWA sites, which are inherently compatible with all platforms.
Finally, PWA enables you to build an integrated eCommerce solution that embraces innovative digital commerce technologies, both today and in the future.
Get in Touch
Have questions about PWA or thinking about launching your PWA storefront?