PWA (Progressive Web App) is a monumental shift that has been making giant waves across the tech world.

If you have built anything for the web, chances are that the term PWA has crossed your path at one point or another. In recent years, the concept has picked up a great deal of steam among the IT community and the practitioners within it. It was once a long shot of a dream to install web apps on phones; now, it’s becoming a reality.

Thought leaders in the industry have shined a big spotlight on the far-reaching advantages of building out smart PWAs. However, much of the initial attempts to introduce the concept of PWAs and how to execute them seem to be pumped full of confusing jargon and code speak. Unfortunately, this tends to turn many of the newbies off from taking that initial step.

In this post, I am going to give you a quick and easy rundown of PWA so you can jumpstart the learning process without feeling overwhelmed.

What is PWA?

In a nutshell, PWA is the web…just WAY better.

A Progressive Web App (PWA) uses modern web capabilities to deliver app-like experiences to users. To accomplish this, PWAs must meet certain requirements (see below), are deployed to servers, indexed by search engines, and are accessible through URLs.

What is needed for PWA?

  • Your WordPress website needs to be HTTPS secured.
  • Your WordPress website should be highly responsive – work consistently well on mobile, desktop, and tablet.
  • Your WordPress website should have a unique URL for every page within it.

PWAs – From the Famous Brands?

Apart from Apple, Microsoft, and Google adding PWA support within their browsers, many companies are working to configure their WordPress websites to be PWA-friendly. Here are just a few of the major brands that are now PWA-enabled:

PWA From the Famous Brands

While these PWA-enabled apps can do amazing things, there are some limitations. For instance, Google Maps does not yet allow turn-by-turn navigation in browser mode.

In addition to the ones listed above, here are some more popular PWA-enabled websites:

  • Alibaba
  • Medium
  • Flipboard
  • Snapdeal
  • Trivago
  • The Weather Channel
  • The Financial Times
  • Pokedex.org
  • GitHub Explorer
  • Flipkart
  • Offline Wikipedia
  • Forbes

How Can You Create PWA for Your WordPress Website?

Plain and simple, if you’ve made the decision to enable PWA for your WordPress website, you are wise to seek out a seasoned developer. The cost to carry out the project will certainly be high, however, it’s actually quite a bit cheaper than the project cost for a regular app. Additionally, if you don’t have a strong background in coding, managing PWA on your WordPress website will be nearly impossible.

The purpose of this post is to help enable WordPress website owners who want to be on the forefront of technology upgrades, as well as have an undying desire to provide the best user experience.

The good news is that sites run in WordPress can convert their platform into PWA quite easily. There are all kinds of plugins that site owners can use to provide users with an app-like experience as they visit a WordPress website via mobile device. The best part is that most require little-to-no coding or technical expertise!

In this post, we are going to discuss five of the most popular ones to consider.

Now, before we start talking about the plugins, please confirm you have HTTPS. To reiterate, HTTPS is a required technology for PWAs to work.

Here are the PWAs plugins that will convert your WordPress website with little-to-no effort:

1. Super Progressive Web Apps

Super Progressive Web Apps is one of the easiest-to-use PWA plugins out there! It gives you the ability to instantly convert WordPress sites into a PWA with minimal effort. SuperPWA is intentionally made for those with little coding experience; you can set up your PWA in under a minute! If you need to, SuperPWA carries out a clean uninstall. This involves removing every single entry to your database, as well as the files they create.

  • Ratings – 5
  • Active Installation – 20000 +
  • Last Updated – 2 Months Ago
  • Tested Up to – 5.1.1

2. Progressive WordPress (PWA)

Progressive WordPress enables you to add your WordPress website directly to users’ home screens. Additionally, it allows you to take control of the display behavior your site provides so it can be showcased without any fancy browser elements. The end result of this plugin is it comes off as a native app!

  • Ratings – 5
  • Active Installation – 1000 +
  • Last Updated – 3 Months Ago
  • Tested Up to – 5.0.4

3. WP-AppKit

The premier feature of WP-AppKit is that it supports JavaScript-based PWA, as well as app themes. The plugin provides 2 default sister themes – one for iOS and one for Android. These can be installed directly with the plugin. With these themes, you can create apps accessible as websites, of which can be installed and accessed similarly to a traditional mobile app.

  • Ratings – 4
  • Active Installation – 1000 +
  • Last Updated – 3 Months Ago
  • Tested Up to – 5.0.4

4. PWA

This plugin serves as a platform to implement support in WordPress with the intention of being proposed for core merge, piece-by-piece. This PWA plugin is intended to provide your platform with the foundation and coordination mechanisms to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” and conflictions with each other.

  • Ratings – 4
  • Active Installation – 10000 +
  • Last Updated – 3 Weeks Ago
  • Tested Up to – 5.2

5. WordPress Mobile Pack

This plugin serves as a platform to implement support in WordPress with the intention of being proposed for core merge, piece-by-piece. This PWA plugin is intended to provide your platform with the foundation and coordination mechanisms to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” and conflictions with each other.

  • Ratings – 3.5
  • Active Installation – 10000 +
  • Last Updated – 8 Months Ago
  • Tested Up to – 4.9.10

Pros and Cons of PWA

Pros:

  • Responsive + app like features.
  • PWAs work exceptionally well with slow internet connections.
  • Users can start using a PWA immediately, as well has have the option to add the web app to their home screen for easier access.
  • PWAs offer offline support – website content is cached to work without any failures – even without an internet connection.
  • PWAs deliver an app-like interface – using the program in a web browser (in full-screen mode) will appear as if you are not even working off of a website.

Cons:

  • PWAs are not capable of utilizing hardware components like sensors, LEDs, and so on. To develop a platform to interact with device hardware, PWAs are not the best option.
  • Functionality can be quite limited in comparison to native and web apps.
  • PWAs are best for demonstrating previews of your native apps.
  • Not ideal for apps that require heavy processing capabilities.

Fact Check:

When examining the concept of cross-browser support, Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s android browser supports PWA.

Browsers support the PWA
However, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari do not extend their support as of this writing.

Browsers not support the PWA

Wrapping Up

People are consuming content on mobile much more than on desktop these days (over 3x more). When in doubt, it is always smart to have a “best-of-both-worlds” situation in which a WordPress website appears like an app, functions like an app, and sustains itself without the use of permission from an app store.

If you are hoping to develop a professional PWA for your business website without the use of any plugins, do yourself a favor and hire a PWA Development Company.

If you want to save some time (and the possibility of something going wrong), the WordPress plugins listed above will serve you well. These plugins are built to significantly reduce the learning curve with streamlined processes for building a PWA.