How to Convert Your WordPress Site into A Progressive Web App (PWA)?

In the era of mobile phones, user experience, and interface design are rapidly evolving. After the revolution of responsive design, the increasing usage of mobile phones implies a new branch that is Progressive Web Apps (PWA).

The Progressive Web App (PWA) is transforming the mobile experience and influencing innovative design patterns in the tech world. It mainly aims to deliver a better user experience for the website visitors. Some of the most influential brands around the world are considering PWA as the foundation of their future developments. The mobile has been a great source of direct connection with potential customers.

Progressive Web apps are offering a whole new set of possibilities that are beneficial alongside the continuous growth of mobile phones. Businesses are also looking forward to Progressive Web App to differentiate them among the competitor and improve the mobile experiences for their users.

One of the best approaches to consider is converting your WordPress Site into a progressive web app (PWA).

What is PWA?

Progressive Web Apps was the concept initially introduced by Steve Jobs during the iPhone introduction in 2007. It is an advanced form of a website that functions on slower internet speed. Progressive Web App (PWA) uses modern capabilities to deliver a native app-like experience for the users. A PWA is deployed to the servers, indexed by the search engines, and are easily accessible through URL.

The page loading speed is less than 3 seconds, which gives the user instant access to the site content. It looks like regular web pages with the functionality of a mobile app. It can easily engage the user and adapting to their device regardless of different shapes and sizes. PWA increases the session duration spent on the site than mobile sites. One of the main advantages of converting your website into PWA is access to send push notifications for smartphone users.

Key Characteristics of a Progressive Web App

As of Google, there are certain characteristics to be considered as a Progressive Web App. Here as follows,

  • Progressive – It is built to be more progressive as a core tenet and must have the capability to work for every user, regardless of the browser and operation system of the user’s choice.
  • Responsive – It aims to have a highly responsive layout and interface that fits any form of screen, including mobile, desktop, tablets, and more other devices that are yet to emerge.
  • Offline – PWA can function seamlessly in some of the areas even when there is no internet connectivity. All the content is preloaded to show the users even in offline mode.
  • Native App-like – The user experience of the app is just like a native app with similar user interactions and navigations.
  • Fresh – With PWA, whenever the user has access to the internet, the app automatically updates itself without any actions from the user’s side.
  • Lighting Fast – A PWA must load within 3 seconds and respond quickly to the user interactions regardless of improper internet connectivity.
  • Safe and Secure – A PWA is served through HTTPS to eliminate the risk of data malpractices and ensure there are no trespassers to tamper the app.
  • Discoverable – A PWA should be easily discoverable on search engines despite classified as an app.
  • Engaging – A PWA must be able to engage with the users with web push notifications from the app owners which is very similar to the native app push notification feature.
  • Linkable – A PWA should be able to be easily shared via a URL and should not require a manual installation.

Progressive Web App

Why PWA for WordPress?

If you have a WordPress Website for your business, you are fortunate. There is no need to re-code the entire website to add PWA features, Thanks to a ton of tools, resources, and plugins which has made the development process easier and straight forward to convert your WordPress site into a PWA.

If you need to increase your website visitors or want to improve your website performance. One of the solutions to consider is enhancing the functionalities and UX of the website.

For instance, the Twitter lite case study represented the Twitter experiences a tremendous change in user behavior from the release of Twitter lite. Twitter lite was the fastest to match the native-like performance requiring less than 3% of the device storage space compared to the Android version of Twitter.

Benefits of Creating PWA for your Website
  • Progressive Web Apps can run directly in the mobile browser.
  • PWA is not subjected to App stores and time-consuming approval processes.
  • Easy to launch and update on business terms without external interference.
  • PWA can be accessed from different platforms.
  • Suitable for all device types.
  • Lesser storage space and data usage as the users don’t have to download anything manually.
Limitations of a PWA
  • PWA functionalities are limited to native and web apps.
  • Suitable only for demonstrating previous of the native apps.
  • Not suitable for heavy process capabilities.
  • Not capable of using hardware components like sensors and LEDs. Not a platform to interact with the device hardware.
Popular Use Cases of PWAs

Popular Use Cases

Apart from Apple and Google, many other brands have added the PWA within their browsers. Among which many small and mid-sized brands are working to configure their WordPress websites to be more progressive web app-friendly sites. Here are some of the major brands that are PWA enabled.

  • Twitter Lite
  • Uber
  • Google Maps
  • Instagram
  • Tinder
  • Lyft
  • Flipkart
  • Snapdeal
  • Medium
  • GitHub Explorer
Prerequisites to Setup a PWA in WordPress

To convert your WordPress site into a high-quality Progressive Web App, there are a few key requirements that have to be met.

  • The WordPress website must be HTTPS secured.
  • The WordPress website should have a responsive theme that works well on mobile, desktop, and tablet.
  • The WordPress website should have a unique URL along with every other page within.
  • WordPress Version: Higher than 3.5.0
  • PHP version: Higher than 5.3

How to Convert your WordPress Site into PWA?

Once the prerequisites are met, there are two major ways to convert your WordPress website into a PWA. One way is to do it manually or by utilizing the plugins.

Manually Develop a PWA

Converting your WordPress Website into a PWA offers the users the ultimate experience of using a web app where visitors of the website from the mobile browser. The development cost of a PWA is much easier than building a mobile app. If you are developers, it easy to develop one with some of the notable frameworks like Angular and React.

If you are not a tech person, you can either go for plugins (Paid or Free) or hire professional developers since the PWA development process is complicated as it involves manual programs. Each method has its own pros and cons depending on the needs of your website. You can discuss with the developer on choosing the right framework that has ease of use and default support of PWAs. To build an exemplary progressive web app, Google has a checklist in which you can test your web page against the lighthouse tool to enhance the best possible user experience.

The following factors should be checked and tested in the phase of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before launching the actual PWA to the users. Here are the characteristics of exemplary PWA that have to be checked manually. It is essential to fix the errors to avoid negative feedback from the users.

  • Site Content should be indexed by Google
  • Schema and Metadata information should be appropriate
  • Social metadata
  • Canonical URLs
  • History API on all Pages within the website
  • Ability to go back from a landing page and keep the scroll position on the previous page
  • Sharable content
  • Inputs that aren’t blocked by the on-screen keyboard
  • Option to disable notifications
  • Push notification that is relevant and timely
  • Easy and instant payment options on the current UI

Utilizing The Plugins

For non-developers, there is a wide range of WordPress plugins available suitable for what you are looking for. There are two types: Free and Paid Plugins.

Free Plugins

1. SuperPWA

SuperPWA

It is one of the top PWA plugins used for WordPress. SuperPWA has its own longstanding tradition of quality and excellent services. It is easy to configure and takes less than a minute to set a Progressive web app. SuperPWA has a clear uninstall which by removing every database file it creates. None of the default settings are saved until you save it manually.

  • Latest Update: 2 Months Ago
  • Active Installation: 20000+
  • Tested up to 5.1.1
2. PWA

PWA

PWA provides the building blocks and coordinated mechanisms for themes. If your server includes the service worker, consider using this PWA plugin to create your own PWA. It only uses built-in implementation as a fallback for when the PWA plugin is not available for use.

  • Latest Updated: 1 Month ago
  • Active Installations: 20,000+
  • Tested up to 5.0.4
3. PWA for WP & AMP

PWA for WP & AMP

PWA for WP & AMP is a good plugin that is available for free to use. It is easy to use and offers exceptional service but lacks proper documentation.

  • Latest update: 2 months ago
  • Active installation: 8000+
  • Tested up to 5.0.4
4. (PWA)

Progressive WordPress

The plugin can be directly installed and is quite popular. It has a very light and minimalistic interface. This plugin provides comparable services to SuperPWA, it also includes support for Google AMP and OneSignal which one of the world’s leading push notification services.

  • Latest Update: 2 Months ago
  • Active installations: 2000+
  • Tested up to 5.2

Paid Plugins

1. WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile Pack has over one million downloads. The plugin offers multiple mobile progressive web apps and extensions which you can either purchase individually or as a bundle.

  • Latest update: 1 year ago
  • Active installations: 100000+
  • Price: $49 – $99
2. PWAThemes

PWAThemes

PWAThemes has excellent mobile progressive web apps built using Angular or React. Each of the PWAThemes comes with a production version which is bundled, packed, and is collections of all necessary JS and CSS file for the PWA to run well.

  • Latest update: 1 year ago
  • Active Installations: 1000+
  • Price: $0 – $49
How to Install PWA Plugins?

The plugin installation process is well streamlined and easy to follow. For example, we will be using SuperPWA here.

WordPress Installation

  • Visit WordPress Admin > Plugin > Add New
  • Search for “SuperPWA
  • Click on the “Install Now” and then Activate the SuperPWA plugin.

Manual Installation

  • Upload the SuperPWA folder to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory on your server.
  • Go to WordPress Admin > Plugins
  • Then, Activate the SuperPWA plugin from the list.

Conclusion

Users are consuming 3x more mobile content than as on desktop. Businesses are competing to attract the user’s attention with mobile phones and their browsers. Progressive Web App serves as a solution to enhance the mobile experiences for the users and leading to improved mobile conversions and engagement. When building a PWA for your business WordPress sites, consider all the above aspects discussed throughout this blog before making the final decision.

If you are a confident or experienced developer, you may have full control of the whole process of building a PWA manually. Else otherwise, get guidance from the best web development company which can help with the same. But, your choices can depend on what exactly you are looking for in a PWA. On the other way, you can save time using the right WordPress plugins. It has a streamlined and cost-effective process with significantly easy to learn.

All the best on your Progressive web app (PWA) development!

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