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7 Challenges of Creating Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)

Here’s a scenario for an e-commerce brand without a PWA (progressive website app). Say your site has a low loading speed or offers a poor user experience. In response, most mobile shoppers will quickly move to another website to do their shopping. 

Poor user experiences and related issues are significant contributors to mobile’s astonishing cart abandonment rate of 88% in the third quarter of 2020. As far back as 2016, mobile phones overtook laptops and desktops to become the most popular device for accessing online experiences. And with seven out of every ten customers preferring to make purchases on their mobile phones, your e-commerce brand must find a way to satisfy demand. 

Ecommerce brands initially responded to this customer behavior by making mobile stores more responsive. Some even went as far as designing native apps for Android and iOS devices. But native apps can be inconvenient in that they require a download before customers can use them. 

Enter Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). A progressive web app is a mobile site that uses modern tech to work like a native app. It means customers can enjoy the speed, interaction, and engagement level of a native app via your website. PWAs are up to four times faster than conventional websites. They don’t require a download and allow brands to deliver immersive shopping experiences across multiple mobile devices. 

PWAs are up to four times faster than conventional websites.

With the advantages above, it’s easy to see why so many e-commerce brands are looking to design a PWA for their online shops. The first obstacle to this project is cost. Initial costs of developing a PWA range from $250,000 – $1,000,000, depending on the complexity of the final product.

Other challenges that can hinder the creation of a progressive web application include:

  1. The Team

Developing a progressive web application is a complex project that’ll require real-time communication between tech vendors and your engineering teams. If the teams are working remotely, you’ll need fast, secure communication and data transfer platforms. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to extend your frontend team’s knowledge and expertise. You can go as far as providing books to help your team become better programmers.

  1. Your Approach

The best approach to designing a progressive web application is thinking of it as a native application. After all, that’s the way the end-users are going to view it. 

We recommend using native apps as the benchmark and inspiration for your PWA’s skeleton. It’s an approach you can only achieve by familiarizing your team with the elements of native mobile applications. 

You’ll want to avoid web elements like footers while designing your PWA. Instead, analyze how native applications display information and use a similar approach. 

  1. No Browser Comes With Safety Issues

Most teams allow their progressive web apps to function in full-screen mode. It’s an option that enhances the user experience and provides a fully responsive service. 

Zero browser functions will make your progressive web application look more aesthetic. But it also comes with a bunch of safety risks that flout current cybersecurity trends. 

The absence of a browser means there’s no safety net for your e-commerce brand. There’ll be no SSL icon, address bar, progress indicators, and all-crucial navigation buttons. 

Your software team can always find ways to sidestep the problems above. For instance, exploratory testing in agile can be an option. Also, remember that the back button sees the most usage on the web. Therefore, we recommend including a small navigation bar as a safety net somewhere within the progressive web app. 

  1. User Experience

User experience is arguably the most crucial part of building a progressive website application. Up to 88% of users won’t return to your website if they have a poor user experience. 

Where PWAs are concerned, a great user experience entails ensuring the product behaves like the average native app. That’s how your users will want it to work. If you’re going to have positive KPI metrics like app retention rate, it’s a requirement you must fulfill. 

For instance, when users go back to a previous page, they expect content and product listings to maintain the already-set positions. Another challenge is coding rich-touch interactions as they can be complex to code and can also ruin your PWA’s UX. 

Another critical aspect is scrolling and clicking. You’ll design your PWA such that touching any page element while scrolling doesn’t equal clicking. Finer details like this can make for a perfectly app-Esque responsive user experience. 

The design elements of your progressive web app can also determine the user experience. We recommend using standard mobile fonts so the overall design will look familiar. An easy solution to this challenger is using SVG or images as opposed to custom fonts. 

Finally, you want to pay close attention to the input mechanism on your progressive web application. The final goal is to ensure the keyboard doesn’t obscure inputs on a mobile device. 

  1. Content

Native applications always display content better in comparison with traditional websites. Your e-commerce brand’s progressive web application should display content in a way that rivals typical websites. 

Native applications use unique skeletons to indicate content positioning, even before the page loads. We recommend using similar placeholders to represent content during the download process. 

You should also make an allowance for content sharing. Mobile users are used to sharing content on other platforms directly from their apps. Therefore, your progressive web application should give them sharing functionality. 

  1. Cache

Caching is a huge challenge for progressive web applications. While you can use service workers to run a progressive web application offline, caution is the keyword to implementation on e-commerce websites. Our ideal solution allows customers to use the PWA for up to 30 minutes without an internet connection. 

  1. Payment Challenges 

Having to enter credit card information is one of the primary reasons for cart abandonment. Recently, Google has offered a solution by introducing an API for payment requests. This API removes the need for checkout forms, allowing merchants to accept payments using a solitary API call. 

This mechanism will streamline the checkout process on your progressive website application. It’ll make your PWA more responsive and improve the customer’s experience. 

Say Hello to the Future

Progressive website applications are the future of e-commerce. They’re more responsive and can be an avenue for your business to provide customers with responsive, omnichannel retail experiences. 

With creative solutions and advanced programming, you can navigate some of the challenges to building a PWA. Do so, and your conversion rate will thank you for it. 

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