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Progressive web applications or PWAs is a game changer. More and more sites are using WordPress Progressive Web plugins to improve mobile web user experience. These web apps have the same functionality as native apps with the loading speed of a web page. PWAs have numerous functionalities as they leverage the latest web browser technology.
But what really differentiates PWAs from native apps? There are several features that are unique to PWAs:
- Highly responsive UI
- Non-network reliant page loading performance
- Offline functionality
- HTTPs requirement
All in all, PWAs enable users to enjoy an enhanced web experience with app-like functionality, smooth loading, asset rendering, and offline accessibility. But in order for a web app to be considered a PWA, it needs to utilize three main technologies:
- Web App Manifest
- Service Workers (with offline caching and fetch event handler)
The Benefits of PWA
There are obvious benefits to the use of PWAs but WordPress is a growing niche for PWA plugins. It opened a whole new possibility for bloggers and publishers especially that PWA is relatively new in WordPress.
But what are these possibilities, really?
- There is no need to create a separate app. Apps, in general, cost a considerable amount and takes a lot of time to develop. This costly investment doesn’t always pay off. PWA does. The result is instantaneous with lesser discoverability and technical hurdles.
- Cross-platform support. Although PWAs require later browser versions to function, almost all web and mobile browsers support the technologies that power PWAs.
- PWA improves the performance of your WordPress site. It’s fast, reliable, and certainly not one of those plugins that make your site load slower. The performance boost is even visible in desktop!
- Noticeable increase in the time-spent metric. Average time spent on PWAs is four times than that of the time spent on mobile site pages.
- Higher engagement and sales conversions in comparison to mobile site. A responsive site is a right move towards the right direction but it still lacks the functionalities that make it attractive for mobile users. Most of the time, users prefer sites that mimic the feel and functionality of native apps
Best WordPress Progressive Web App Plugin
There are three different approaches to PWA for a WordPress site. You can either manually build PWA, use services that can handle everything for you, or you can use a WordPress PWA plugin that works similarly to the first two options but in a more efficient way.
Let’s take a closer look into some of these WordPress PWA plugins and learn what they bring to the table.
Super PWA wants to take your website to the next level. With the promise of instant WordPress site to PWA conversion, Super Progressive Web Apps offers easy set-up and configuration together and several features including:
- Web App Manifest Generator
- Add to home screen notification
- Customization options for the app icon, splash screen background color, and offline page
- Aggressive page caching with CacheStorage API
- Clean code and active development
- Responsive support
- UTM tracking add-on
- Push notifications through the OneSignal integration
- Clean uninstall
Since PWAs require browsers that support both manifests and service workers, not all browser versions support Super PWA. These are the main browsers and their lowest versions that support PWA:
- Google Chrome version 57 and above
- Chrome for Android version 62 and above
- Mozilla Firefox version 57 and above
- Firefox for Android version 58 and above
Progressive WordPress (PWA)
No coding skills required. This statement speaks of a beginner-friendly tool.
Features and benefits:
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Support
- Add to home screen notification
- Pre-caching of all critical website assets
- OneSignal WordPress plugin support enabling push notifications sending from the WordPress Admin panel
Progressive WordPress is the first WordPress PWA plugin to offer AMP support (specifically for AMP for WordPress and AMP for WP – Accelerated Mobile Pages plugins). This enables Progressive WordPress to add to AMP caching strategies, and also register The Service Worker and Web App Manifest on AMP pages.
The PWA plugin sounds straightforward – and it is straightforward. It implements support for the technologies that power Progressive Web Apps, specifically Service Workers, Web App Manifest, and HTTPS.
All three provides functionality that makes PWAs function as intended. But as more PWA plugins are made available for WordPress sites, the chances of similar plugins conflicting against each other became higher. The PWA plugin aims to remove this issue by providing both the building blocks and coordinating system to initiate core mergers.
Only one service work can be active in a page at a given time. Instead of creating either a service worker for the theme or plugin, the PWA plugin extends the core service worker.
This plugin is excellent for those that are developing their plugins or web app themes that have a service worker.
The PWA for WP & AMP plugin provides the same functionality as other WordPress Progressive Web plugins. This does not mean that they have nothing new to give. This plugin’s approach is actually more beginner-friendly with a start page that you can easily set from options, background color options and more features listed below.
- AMP support – full compatibility for AMP
- Multi-site support
- UTM tracking
- Cache Expire option
- Web App Manifest
- PWA-enable asset caching strategy
- Automatic background service worker installation
- Dashboard System Status – monitor the setup status of the PWA
- Customizable home-screen app notification banners
- Customizable splash screen
- Full-screen loading in mobile PWA version
- Offline support with automatic syncing
The team behind this PWA plugin assures that the development process is continuous, ensuring that they can address issues through update releases. This active development also signals active technical support and feedback monitoring.
You can purchase the plugin with a complimentary app theme or as a bundle (PRO) with up to 5 app themes and extensions. Select from dozens of highly customizable themes that feel, look, and behave like a native app UI.
- Responsive UI
- Six abstract covers for default themes for a magazine-like aesthetic.
- Posts and pages sync – you can arrange posts into categories for easy reading. You can rearrange or hide categories as you prefer.
You can also select what pages to display on the mobile web app. As with the posts, you can show, hide, and rearrange the pages.
- Comments sync – this feature syncs the comments on the app to the comments on blog and vice versa.
- Google Analytics and WooCommerce integrations
- Add to home screen – let users return to your website by launching it from the home screen.
An upgrade to the WordPress Mobile Pack PRO allows access to more mobile app theme options (That will enabe the WordPress Progressive Web). This PRO version is marketed towards serious bloggers and content publishers and has additional benefits including:
- Monetization options
- Ongoing updates and one-year professional support
- Unlimited push notifications
- Licenses for 3 domains
- iOS and Android device support
- Compatible with Google Chrome, Safari, and Android native browsers
In order to make this possible, WP-AppKit offers features and functionality like:
- WordPress Progressive Web native support (posts, custom post types, pages, custom fields, comments, etc.)
- User login
- PWA full support
- Android support
- PhoneGap/Cordova app building platform
- Theme API for custom theme design and features